A new charge at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary is angering a tour
operator who claims the fee discriminates against her
Orokonui has made it compulsory for visitors on cruise-ship
tours to pay a minimum of $5, for staff members to show a
15-minute educational DVD and talk about the ecosanctuary.
It kept a register of tour members and invoiced operators
Orokonui general manager Chris Baillie said the charge only
applied to people on paid tours which targeted cruise-ship
passengers and included the ecosanctuary in marketing.
Ms Baillie said it affected fewer than 20% of visitors to the
ecosanctuary and there was no intention of charging
individuals, most of whom were Dunedin residents.
''This charge is just for cruise-ship tour operators that
include Orokonui in their itinerary. They are using Orokonui
to help sell their tours.
''We are charging $5 per head for the talk and DVD, because
we want visitors' experience of Orokonui to be meaningful -
we want them to know what the ecosanctuary is about and what
we are doing here,'' she said.
It was a way for visitors to contribute to the facility,
which would be less reliant on grants as a result, she said.
Ms Baillie said the $5 fee was ''tiny'' and she did not think
it would deter visitors or stop tour operators including
Orokonui in their itineraries.
At present, four operators used Orokonui, two of which had
signed its cruise-ship tour operator agreement, she said.
Only one operator had opposed the charge, Ms Baillie said.
That person contacted the Otago Daily Times saying the
charge was discriminatory and unfair.
The tour operator asked to remain anonymous to protect her
She said it did not make sense to charge cruise-ship
passengers on paid tours $5 to visit Orokonui's visitor area,
cafe and gift shop - where others could go for free.
''It seems unreasonable for tourists off a cruise ship to be
charged for a compulsory minimum tour option when any other
tourist or local is not forced to take a minimum tour option;
they can simply look around and have a great coffee if they
The operator said 75% of her customers spent money in the
cafe and gift shop, and Orokonui was driving people, and