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Seeing the sights . . . Passengers from cruise ship Maasdam, which was docked at Port Chalmers in Dunedin last week, enjoy a visit to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

More than 30 cruise ship passengers made their way from Dunedin to Oamaru last week, a growing trend that is helping bring more tourists to the town.

The passengers, tourists from the United States and Australia, arrived at Port Chalmers on Holland America cruise ship Maasdam

A group of 35 took the opportunity to travel to Oamaru and Moeraki for the day on Friday, visiting the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and Steampunk HQ before they spent 90 minutes wandering Oamaru at their leisure.

While heading back to Dunedin, the group spent some time at the Moeraki Boulders.

Cruise ship passengers have visited Oamaru since early last year through Oamaru-based tourism operator Headfirst Travel.

The company entered an agreement with ID NZ, one of the country’s largest destination management companies that works closely with several cruise ship operators, last February to ferry passengers by bus to Oamaru.

While only a few people were making the trip from Dunedin to Oamaru initially, numbers had grown to more than 30 in recent times.

Headfirst Travel guide Denis Dove said the number of people interested to see what Oamaru had to offer was on the rise, which he believed was encouraging for the tourism sector.

Numbers had increased from “two or three” to more than 30, he said.

“They don’t know anything about Oamaru. It’s exciting – it’s going to keep going, too, which I think is a good thing for little old Oamaru.

“It’s going to be great for Oamaru in the future. It’s great publicity and it gets around through word of mouth to other travellers.

Bob and Robin Berry, from Cody, Wyoming, in the United States, were among the visitors.

They visited Oamaru 10 years ago and were impressed with how the town had developed as a tourism destination since then.

“It’s grown – it’s just wonderful,” Mrs Berry said.

“It’s good to see it’s been so successful. It’s a wonderful place.”

Another American, Seattle native Jillian Lidgard, said she enjoyed her time in Oamaru, particularly the penguin colony.

“I think it’s really great. Obviously they’re doing a great job keeping the penguins safe.”