Too many tourists at church

The Press - - News -

In­creas­ing pres­sure from tourists on in­fra­struc­ture at Tekapo’s Church of the Good Shep­herd has led to a pitch for nearly $300,000 in gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Is­sues with parking, over­crowd­ing and ve­hi­cle noise are dam­ag­ing the tourism hot spot, as well as pre­sent­ing safety risks, says com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Garth Nixon in Macken­zie Dis­trict Coun­cil’s fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion.

Vis­i­tors are now com­plain­ing that it is too crowded, Nixon says, and that is ruin­ing the seren­ity and sa­cred­ness of the site, prov­ing ‘‘detri­men­tal to their en­joy­ment of the Church and sur­rounds’’.

The coun­cil is hop­ing to tap into $294,000 in fund­ing to im­prove pedes­trian ac­cess, re­duce the im­pact of ve­hi­cle traf­fic, im­prove the qual­ity of vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences, and pro­tect the char­ac­ter and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment sur­round­ing the world fa­mous church.

The ap­pli­ca­tion to the Min­istry for Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion, and En­ter­prise (MBIE), says the project was ex­pected to cost $420,000, with the coun­cil hop­ing $294,000 of that would come from gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Data sug­gested that more than 3000 peo­ple vis­ited the Church, and the nearby Col­lie Dog statue, per day over the sum­mer tourist pe­riod, amount­ing to 606,000 peo­ple dur­ing that time.

The coun­cil pro­poses a raft of mea­sures to re­duce the im­pact of grow­ing tourist numbers on the church and its sur­rounds.

They in­clude the con­struc­tion of a new carpark for buses on the western side of the Tekapo foot­bridge, to en­cour­age pedes­trian traf­fic as op­posed to ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic to the church, the in­stal­la­tion of new walk­ways and paths to im­prove views,new fenc­ing and plant­ings, land­scap­ing to elim­i­nate bus ac­cess to the church, and the con­struc­tion of a stone wall struc­ture and paving around the Col­lie Dog statue to pro­vide more space.

The coun­cil was hop­ing to start all parts of the project ex­cept the plant­ing in Novem­ber, with the en­tire project set to be com­pleted by April 2018.

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