Vanished World principals set out geo-park ambitions

Vanished World’s geo-park convener, Roger Blackburn, says there are many reasons for the people...
Vanished World’s geo-park convener, Roger Blackburn, says there are many reasons for the people of Duntroon to get behind a new project. Photo: Shannon Gillies.
Tourism movers and shakers gathered at Vanished World on Saturday to discuss the Duntroon historical specialist attraction’s future.

Vanished World spokesman Ian Elliott said aims for the attraction included turning it into a Unesco geo-park, to strengthen the attraction’s relationship with the University of Otago, and to become a significant Otago out-of-class earth sciences centre.

He acknowledged there was a lot of work to do before the volunteer-dependent business reached its goals.

"But we’ve had feedback from the science community that what we have with the centre ...  that we tick the boxes of being able to be a Unesco geo-park, but there will be several years to get there. It’s a five-year goal."

He believed that if Duntroon secured the Unesco rating, it would be the first of its type in the country.

"It would be fantastic for the district. It would be more likely to bring volunteers."

Vanished World’s geo-park convener, Roger Blackburn, said there were several reasons now was the time to start work on creating a geo-park site.

"If you want to build the future, you’ve really got to introduce ... a concept for people to build into it. Geo-parks are very strong in China and the Chinese, hopefully, understand geo-parks better than anyone else. We have a growing tourist market and that’s strongly made up of Chinese."

Saturday’s event for the attraction’s stakeholders, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, local volunteers, and other tourism operators, included a series of walks, bike rides, and drive-over trails designed to show off sites of importance in Duntroon and surrounding areas including Elephant Rocks, Maori rock art, Earthquakes  and Anatini.

It was hoped a public-open day would be held next year to promote the Duntroon attraction.

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