No extra staff for penguin colony

Tourism Waitaki has no concerns for blue penguins over the busy Chinese New Year period. Photo:...
Tourism Waitaki has no concerns for blue penguins over the busy Chinese New Year period. Photo: Philippa Agnew
Tourism Waitaki will not employ extra staff over Chinese New Year to control people viewing penguins coming ashore outside the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, despite issues with large crowds in the past.

A large number of Chinese tourists are expected to make their way to Oamaru over the Chinese New year period, which started on February 5 and ends on February 19.

Many will visit the penguin colony, either as part of an organised tour or an individual itinerary.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said tourists who wanted to view the penguins would predominantly do so within the confines of the penguin colony, as opposed to viewing them from Waterfront Rd, where some tourists have been observed behaving inappropriately around the penguins in the past.

That behaviour has included flash photography, shouting at penguins and getting too close to them.

Mrs Munro did not expect crowd numbers outside the colony to grow over the Chinese New Year period and expected there would be few issues.

"Not especially, no. Many of the bookings and most of the market that we deal with are all directed to the penguin colony."

As a result, no extra staff would be brought in  to monitor people outside the colony.

The 410-person capacity evening viewings at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony was the primary drawcard for Chinese visitors to the Waitaki district and some nights during Chinese New Year had been booked out since before Christmas, she said.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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