Terrestrial methods that may be used to quantify cliff erosion rates, and to qualify the real status of coastal areas currently zoned for building are described. The methods are fast, inexpensive and effective for relatively small terrains. Due to the use of modern methods and instruments, a very high (sub-centimetre) accuracy for measuring cliff recession can be reached. A computer model is derived to analyse data obtained through the measurement techniques. The model will, over time, supply data sufficient to project short to medium term volumetric changes in rock mass and will provide significant input in the development of a coastal hazards zoning protocol. A pilot study has been carried out in North Shore City (Auckland, New Zealand).

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