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The carousel at Whitestone City. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Waitaki residents will have to shell out the full entry fee if they want to visit two of Oamaru’s top visitor attractions during peak tourism season.

People who live in the district have previously paid a discounted rate, year-round, to gain entry to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and Whitestone City.

Discounted rates at the penguin colony start at $3 for a day tour, $6 for general evening viewing admission and $9 for a premium evening viewing ticket.

At Whitestone City, the local fee is $5 for adults and free for people 18.

However, the discount will no longer apply from October 1 to March 31, Tourism Waitaki has announced.

People will instead have to pay the full penguin colony entry fees of $15 (day tour), $30 (general evening viewing) and $45 (premium evening viewing).

Prices at Whitestone City are $20 for adults and $10 for those under 18. Children under 5 are free.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said the decision was made in the interest of keeping the growing number of visitors to Oamaru, particularly those who planned to visit the penguin colony, happy.

“What’s driving it is capacity issues. Some nights already this summer, we are already booked out. That’s why we’re trying to get the availability for visitors to be able to see the experience if they are only here for one night, whereas locals have got the opportunity to go year-round, really.

“It seems silly to to say to visitors who visit here, ‘no, you can’t come and see them because we’ve got locals filling up the seats’. It’s just a common-sense thing.”

She did not think the decision to charge residents full price during peak season would put locals off the idea of taking people visiting from outside the district to the penguin colony.

A Tourism Waitaki spokeswoman was unable to provide the Oamaru Mail with the total number of people who visited the penguin colony from October 1 to March 31, but said Waitaki residents made up 1.1% of visitors during the time period.

About 2.5% of people who visit the penguin colony annually are from Oamaru.