Information covering coast provided in new layby

Visitors to the Catlins have a new place to stop and stretch their legs before exploring.

The Clutha District Council and community group Catlins Coast Incorporated are applying finishing touches to a new, $110,000 layby and information panel project, two years in the making, on the Owaka Highway just outside Balclutha.

The project relocates the information site from Telford farm institute, some 3km further south.

As part of a review of tourism signage throughout the Catlins in 2021, Catlins Coast requested its relocation to a more prominent position.

During planning, the new site raised questions among councillors regarding its position in a rural industrial area, which includes Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand meat works and a sewage oxidation pond.

However, the project went ahead unchanged, and is now open to vehicles, providing 13 car parks in a riverside setting adjoining the Clutha.

Catlins Coast project co-ordinator Lisa Biginato said the facility was expected to be opened formally in a "low-key" ceremony next month.

"There is no set date when the Welcome to The Catlins sign is to be installed, but the development of the sign is under way and could be installed by June if there are no delays with materials, etc.

"We’ve received positive feedback from the community about how good the layby looks, and that we are seeing many visitors using it since the entrance was opened. There will be a few trees trimmed, to enable the river to be viewed from the car park."

She said although the new location was just outside the Catlins proper, it could be regarded as a "preparation area" for trips into the popular tourist region.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency provided $104,000 funding towards the project.

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