Council launches funding bid for penguin platform

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Published: 05 Jul 2019

The Council is launching a Tourism Infrastructure Fund bid to enable people to experience Timaru’s penguins more safely.

The Korora (Little Blue Penguin) are now frequent visitors to Caroline Bay and are becoming a significant draw for people during their active periods. With the growth in visitor numbers there were increasing concerns regarding people standing on the roadway at night.

The council is proposing building a custom viewing platform to offer around 100 people a better view of the colony, while causing less disturbance for the penguins below.

Work on costing for the project based on the draft concept designs is being prepared for the August TIF funding round.

The platform proposed also features a ramp to help protect the penguins from people climbing down the rocks, carrying kayaks or walking dogs through the colony.

Timaru District mayor Damon Odey said this project would be a huge enhancement for everyone who visits the penguins and a boost to the environment of the penguins themselves.

“We’re incredibly lucky to have these penguins right on the doorstep to the city, but for a while now I’ve been concerned that the visitor experience wasn’t as good as people would expect.

“Now that the colony is fairly stable, and the number of visitors is growing I thought it was time that the council stepped in to help improve the situation and provide a safer option than standing in the roadway.

“The Tourism Infrastructure Fund offers us the opportunity to provide a fantastic bit of infrastructure for both visitors and locals, and access central government funding to do so.

“It’s a really exciting project to be part of a number of initiatives to help reinvigorate the bay for locals and tourists alike.”

Peter Bennett, founder of the Timaru Penguins Group welcomed the project, saying it was a brilliant idea.

“The plans look fantastic and it also recognizes the efforts of our volunteers to ensure the colony was given a chance to grow, with tourists now a big draw card to the penguins at night,” he said.

“The council has come to me with their initial plans and has been taking my feedback around the positioning of the platform to enable maximum protection of the penguins and a great viewing experience.

“At the moment we still have people after dark with torches walking along the rope line and down beside the rocks looking for penguins / nests and occasionally, there are still dog prints in the fenced area.

“Having a more obvious official viewing platform for us will be a great benefit as it will reduce the number of people walking up and down the roadway and disturbing the penguins during nesting time. The new entrance off the platform also takes the dog walkers well away from the rocks and the roped area.

“Visitors and tourists to Timaru will have a different experience from other centres to watch the penguins, and I’m sure they will be suitably impressed with the platform.”

Publish Date: 05 Jul 2019