Call to keep road as is

A plan to spend more money on rural roads has been well received by the vast majority of Waitaki ratepayers.

But the 4km Lighthouse Rd on Moeraki Peninsula should remain unsealed, Penguin Rescue manager Rosalie Goldsworthy told Waitaki District Council councillors during the 2018-28 long-term plan public hearings this week. Sustainable resource management included "the commitment to supporting our natural environment", she said.

The biggest threat to the yellow-eyed penguin habitat she managed at Moeraki - and the biodiversity values and archaeological sites at Katiki Point - was tourism.

If the council sealed the road to the lighthouse at the point, busloads of tourists would inundate the area.

More tourists came to the district to see penguins than to see its cultural heritage, Mrs Goldsworthy said.

But a lack of infrastructure had "destroyed" some natural areas.

While 50 yellow-eyed penguin chicks fledged from Moeraki this year, Oamaru's yellow-eyed penguin habitat was struggling to support the species.

"None of the chicks that hatched at Bushy Beach survived this year," she said.

Of the council's 86 respondents to its proposal to spend $5,770,000 more on district roads over the next 10 years, 81 submitters, or 94%, approved.

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