Return of the dinosaurs

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When the Oamaru Railway Station opened in 1900, no-one would have dreamed it would one day be a prehistoric wonderland.
Oamaru’s Prehistoric World celebrated its grand opening last Friday after several months of work by owner and artist Don Paterson.
Mr Paterson bought the Oamaru Railway Station for $1000 in March 2015, on the condition he spend at least $100,000 (plus GST), excluding labour, on maintenance and restoration over the following 18 months.
The result is a unique attraction that he said would complement Duntroon’s Vanished World.
“I think it’s turned out fantastic,” Mr Paterson said.
“It was a lot of hard work and and you get the reward when you get to the finish, don’t you? It’s just a culmination of months of work, so hopefully people like it.”Speaking at the opening, Mr Paterson said he bought the building for three reasons: he wanted to save it, to “bring life to it”, and to provide another attraction in Oamaru for locals and tourists to enjoy.
Oamaru’s Prehistoric World includes a display of rocks from Antarctica collected by local historian and author David Harrowfield and donated by Zena Keen, a dinosaur-themed visual display, models of dinosaurs and moa, and casts of dinosaur bones, teeth and skulls, including a huge replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull.
There are displays about microfossils, the link between fossils and environmental change, how fossils help geologists find resources such as oil and minerals, fossil fuels, and how and where fossils have been found as a result of earthquakes.
While most of the material is related to other parts of the country and further afield, there are examples of fossils found in the Elephant Rocks area of Duntroon.
The New Zealand geological scale is also displayed, and features the Waitakian and Duntroonian periods _ when prehistoric animals roamed or swam, between 25.2 and 27.3 million years ago.
Mr Paterson’s own art, including his Happy as Larry sculpture riding a moa, is on display.
When Mr Paterson initially pitched his idea for the building to the Civic Trust, he said it was met with plenty of “eye-rolling”.
However, he wasn’t about to let that stop him.
“I wanted it full of history and full of people, like it was when it was a busy station. The more things we can have happen, the better for the town.”Mr Paterson hoped to have a virtual reality-style attraction in place by the end of the year, which would allow people to run with or ride dinosaurs and that he expected to be popular with school groups.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the attraction added to the tourism industry.
Oamaru’s Prehistoric World is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are plans in place for it to open seven days a week in the summer.