North Otago tourist attractions and holiday parks are
experiencing a bumper holiday season this Christmas and
expect the region will continue to benefit from boosted
visitor numbers well in to the new year.
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, the Waitaki Waters Holiday
Park in Oamaru and the Otematata Holiday Park and Lodge have
all reported visitor numbers are noticeably higher than last
Penguin colony manager Jason Gaskill said visitor numbers had
been ''steady and encouraging''.
''Our total numbers are up on this period last year. Total
day visitors are up approximately 35%, and evening viewing
numbers are up nearly 20% for the New Year period [December
21 to January 2].
''We have been at, or near, capacity for the general stand
three or four times, while we have been at or near capacity
11 times for the premium stand.''
Work to build a new $200,000, 60-seat grandstand at the
colony was completed in June, and Mr Gaskill said the new
premium stand had inspired ''almost universally positive
comments and a high uptake by visitors''.
''People appreciate the closer proximity and the walk through
the breeding area to access the stand,'' Mr Gaskill said.
Further upgrades to the viewing area, which would include
interactive touchscreens, online applications and web
cameras, were also expected to be finished soon, Mr Gaskill
said. Waitaki Waters Holiday Park owner-operator Derek
Chapple said the holiday park had been full to capacity over
the whole week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Mr Chapple said the park also looked set to remain busy well
''Going into December, things were quieter than normal, but
since Christmas we have been absolutely flat out.
''We have certainly had a busy run and it's by no means
quietening down yet.''
Mr Chapple said the holiday park had ''stepped up'' its game
this year by increasing the amount of family activities on
''Our return guests that keep coming back expect something
different each year. We have put on family activities
throughout the day, we had jumping castles, we had a big
marquee up here, bonfire and we had a 10-minute firework
display. So a lot of people were booked in for that.''
The Otematata Holiday Park and Lodge had also reported having
to turn people away.
Co-owner Kirsty McLeod said despite only taking over the park
in early December, the Christmas and New Year period had been
Miss McLeod said the park had been at full capacity for the
whole period, and added that ''the next wave'' was due to
''From all reports from the campers it's been far, far busier
than last year,'' she said.