Toitu response 'remarkable'

More than 44,000 people have visited the redeveloped Toitu Otago Settlers Museum less than a month after it reopened, in a ''quite remarkable'' public response, museum organisers say.

Cruise ship visitors, including some from Diamond Princess, yesterday, added to the influx.

Museum director Linda Wigley said visitor numbers had exceeded her expectations.

''We are astonished at the feedback we have had, as well as the numbers. We are very, very pleased.''

The museum had been closed for the past two years while its $37.5 million redevelopment was completed. The institution had previously attracted only about 65,000 visitors a year, but even if attendance continued at only at half the current monthly rate, the museum would easily exceed its new 180,000 annual visitor target. Museum officials said 44,225 people had visited in the period starting with pre-opening ceremonies on December 7 and ending on Wednesday evening.

The museum reopened to the public on December 8.

Daily attendance had fallen below 1200 only twice since the reopening, officials said. Among visitors yesterday was Bill Bachop, a former Otago Settlers Association committee member, who said the ''fantastic'' new museum had now become, like the Otago Museum, a ''major tourist attraction'' for Dunedin.

Free admittance

Does this have anything to do with no cover charge? Another gift from the Dunedin ratepayers.

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