Use of the Te Rauone Reserve public toilets has apparently
doubled since the Royal Albatross Centre began to charge
entrance fees at the start of the year. Photo by Jonathan
The Te Rauone Reserve public toilets have been getting
three times as much waste since the nearby Royal Albatross
Centre starting charging an admission fee, potentially passing
the cost of waste disposal at Taiaroa Head to the ratepayer.
The Royal Albatross Centre was once a popular comfort stop
for visitors to Taiaroa Head. At the end of last year, the
centre started charging entry fees to all visitors.
A major factor behind the fee was the increased cost of
transporting sewage after the Dunedin City Council required
the centre to send its waste to the Green Island waste
disposal plant from July 2012.
Before July, the centre had been transporting its waste to
the council's Tahuna wastewater treatment plant at
significantly less cost but had to stop doing so due to the
ongoing upgrade to the facility.
Cr Jinty MacTavish said she understood the decision to make
the centre use the Green Island plant had been made at a
management level, not by the elected councillors.
Not prepared to pay, large numbers of visitors have been
using the Te Rauone Head toilets. Council parks and reserves
manager Lisa Wheeler said that before Christmas contractors
employed to refill the water tank at the toilets had to do
the job once a week.
Now the contractors are having to fill the tank three times a
week, using 2000 litres of water, and were also having to
clean the toilets more often.
''This is beyond what we originally tendered, so we are going
to have to look at renegotiating the contract,'' Ms Wheeler
Royal Albatross Centre manager Annie Villiers did not doubt
the Te Rauone Reserve toilets were getting used more.
''I know the door charge has caused some issues with
[tourism] operators and locals ... but I'm not apologising
for that,'' Ms Villiers said.
''Our place has been used as public toilets forever.''
In a submission to the Otago Peninsula Community Board last
year, a resident said the increased usage meant more people
were parking on the road verge, which was becoming churned
Also, the facilities were initially inadequate for the
toilets to be serviced properly, as the sewage truck had
become stuck on several occasions. The board said these
issues had since been resolved. Board chairman John Bellamy
said the increased usage was an unavoidable consequence of
the centre charging an admission fee.
''At the end of the day these things have to be paid for. The
trust is a private entity and it has to meet its costs,'' he
- Jonathan Chilton-Towle