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Ever closer...The sea is rapidly biting into the Patiti Point coastline and drawing closer to the deerstalkers and pistol club clubrooms on the other side of the macrocarpa hedge. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

South Canterbury Deerstalkers estimate they have six months before their clubrooms at the Caledonian Ground on Patiti Point crumble into the sea.

Heavy seas are crashing into the nearby shoreline and eating into cliffs less than 10m from the clubrooms which the deerstalkers share with the Timaru Pistol Club.

“With what’s happening with the sea, we’re resigned to shifting now,” South Canterbury Deerstalkers president Tim McCarthy said.

“We don’t want to lose everything and so we’d rather be proactive. We’ve met with the council and they’re doing the best with advice.”

He said at the current rate of erosion, they had six months to shift.

“We’ve seen 3m fall off the cliffs in the last eight to nine weeks. There have been colossal seas bashing against the cliffs; there’s only 6 to 7m of the beach left.”

Mr McCarthy said the club was exploring all options to find a new location.

“If we could find something handy would be great. Bill Steans, from the council, said there could be a reserve for us.

“We’ve got a meeting next month to discuss the future of the clubrooms and the possibility of one or two options. The pistol club is looking at different options as well.”

The clubrooms were originally classrooms of St Joseph’s Primary School in Timaru which were joined together on site in 1987.

“It’s been quite harmonious; we’ve got pistol club members in our club as well,” Mr McCarthy said.

Last week the Timaru District Council closed the Patiti Point surfers’ access path after cracks appeared on the former road between the Caledonian Ground and cliffs.

“The crack may mean that another 2.5 to 3m of cliff could fall at any time without warning, as has previously happened, so for safety reasons the track is now completely closed for vehicles, cycles and foot traffic,” land transport manager Andrew Dixon said.

“We are also advising against walking under or near the cliff face on the beach as it can suddenly collapse without warning.”

Council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans said there was a new alternative route to the beach through the Caledonian Sports Grounds which provided a good surface for mountain biking and walking.