New Curio Bay visitor centre opens

The outside of the recently opened Tumu Toka Curioscape at the Curio Bay Heritage Centre. PHOTO:...
The outside of the recently opened Tumu Toka Curioscape at the Curio Bay Heritage Centre. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The new Curio Bay Tumu Toka Natural Heritage Visitor Centre in the Catlins is open to the public.

The $2.5 million development was completed a few weeks ago and an open day was held at the weekend.

Although the centre was open to the public, an official opening will not be held until March 16 next year.

South Catlins Charitable Trust chairman Paul Duffy said as the number of tourists coming to the area grew, the facility became important in educating them about the significance of the area and the local wildlife.

``It's important that, with the growing number of visitors we know are coming, that they learn how to interact with the wildlife in terms of distance and behaviour.''

The Catlins, where the facility is based, hosts several wildlife species including the yellow-eyed penguin and native New Zealand sea lions.

Another attraction was the nearby Petrified Forest on which the Heritage Centre provided in-depth information, Mr Duffy said.

``It's very important people respect that.''

The site also had a cafe, an ``interpretation area'' with interactive touch screens and information panels, and a theatre which displayed information on the local wildlife, geology and iwi history of the area.

``We think it's quite stunning,'' Mr Duffy said.

The attraction was built with the support of the Department of Conservation, Southland District Council, Venture Southland and local iwi.

Mr Duffy said there had been ``very good'' feedback about the facility as a whole.

The open day was successful and about 280 people visited the new attraction, he said.

samuel.white@odt.co.nz

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