Too many tourists at church
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.