Fund helps township with projects

A Waitaki Valley township is cashing in on its history as tourism grows, particularly because of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

Duntroon is undergoing a transformation to re-create its history, with the help of more than $100,000 so far from the Meridian Energy Waitaki Community Fund.

The Duntroon Development Association is leading the work, based on a community vision conceived about 12 years ago, with several projects, including restoration of Nicol's Forge and a wetland area.

''It's fantastic what's been achieved,'' association spokesman Mike Gray said yesterday.

''We couldn't have done it without the financial help from Meridian over the last six years.

''Seeing it all come to fruition is really rewarding for the town and people who pass through the Waitaki Valley.''

The Waitaki Community Fund contributed $50,000 towards the restoration of the forge, New Zealand's only authentic smithy which Heritage NZ classified as Category 1.

The most recent grant from the fund was $5500 for a fire sprinkler and security system for the building.

The Brewery Hole behind the forge, originally used by a local brewery and the township for a water supply, has also been reopened as a tourist attraction with help from the fund, and a viewing platform built.

A life-size sculpture of a moa - once prevalent in the Waitaki area - will soon be built on the track between Nicol's the Blacksmith and the viewing platform.

''The sculpture will complement the other projects. It'll also create a surprise element and add an artistic aspect to the total visitor experience we are developing in Duntroon,'' Mr Gray said.

The Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail was bringing more people through, providing the community with an opportunity to raise awareness of what was going on in Duntroon as well as boosting business in the town.

''Our focus is on preserving and promoting the heritage of Duntroon and the surrounding area and making them a showpiece for locals and visitors.''

The fund previously contributed $38,500 towards upgrading the Duntroon wetlands and the Vanished World Centre.

Meridian allocated $125,814 in the latest round of funding to.-Aoraki Mount Cook School $40,533 (single garage and technology room); Twizel Gym $13,136 (double-glazing and new equipment); Twizel Promotion and Development Association $15,510 (flags for a community flag project); Kurow Medical Centre $10,572 (upgrade/reseal car park); Tokarahi Golf Club $10,000 (towards a greens mower conditional on the balance); Lower Waitaki Golf Club $10,000 (towards a greens mower conditional on the balance); Twizel Church Charitable Trust $10,000 (double-glaze hall); New Zealand Alpine Club $8063 (fire-fighting water tank at Unwin Lodge); Twizel Community Radio Trust $2500 (generator).

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