Tourists flock to colony

Visitor numbers at the Oamaru Blue Penguin colony are holding up during the recession.

The colony, established in 1992, has become one of Oamaru's main tourist attractions.

In the year to the end of March, it attracted 63,450 visitors, compared with 64,467 in the 2007-08 year to the end of March.

Colony manager Jason Gaskill said that while tourists numbers in New Zealand were falling due to the worldwide economic recession, and some of the country's attractions were experiencing a big drop in visitor numbers, the Oamaru penguin colony with its population of between 550 and 600 birds was doing well.

In the first three months of this year, the colony had 30,592 visitors, compared with 30,170 in the corresponding period last year.

Tourists from China, Germany, the United States and Australia dominated the figures, along with New Zealanders.

Mr Gaskill said there were plans to add a tour option for visitors who wanted to walk through the colony alone rather than wait for guided tours, incorporating some of the geological features of the harbour and Cape Wanbrow area and tying in with the Vanished World trail at Duntroon.

The colony was also looking at establishing an international reputation for scientific research.


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