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Happy memories . . . Northanjer Rest Home resident Noelene Wilson was delighted to find a honey tin in the Whitestone City grocery shop that was familiar from when she and her husband operated a honey business. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

More than 2000 people visited Whitestone City during the school holidays.

The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust, which owns the building Whitestone City occupies in lower Harbour St, reopened it from July 4 to 19.

Trust chairman Graeme Clark said it was an opportunity to celebrate all aspects of the district’s heritage in a community facility.

At least a third of the 2000 school holiday visitors were local residents who had never been through the interactive Victorian tourism attraction before.

The rest were domestic travellers from as far afield as Northland, many in family groups looking around Oamaru for the first time.

A team of volunteers, including former paid staff, welcomed visitors, escorted them around the various activities and told them about life in colonial Oamaru.

The school holiday visitors were asked for suggestions for the site’s future. These included using Whitestone City for more community events, reinstating winter movie screenings, and incorporating more connections to other Oamaru and Waitaki attractions.

Mr Clark said he was “extremely happy” with the response.

Great response . . . Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark and Whitestone City volunteer Faye Ormandy are delighted with the number of visitors who toured the site in the recent school holidays. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, confirming the heritage stories and experiences resonated with both locals and those from other parts of New Zealand.

He said the volunteers were the “heroes” of the initiative and the trust looked forward to supporting them in the future.

Mr Clark also praised Headfirst Travel co-owner Ralph Davies for being “extremely accommodating” in helping visitors get to and from Whitestone City.

Plans were now under way to train extra volunteers to help the core team, develop more local stories to be told and refresh the displays and exhibits.

Whitestone City would be open at weekends from now on or by appointment for groups and school visits during the week.

The trust hoped to have it open daily in the September school holidays.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should call in at the weekend.

“We’d love to hear from you,” spokeswoman Faye Ormandy said.

Whitestone City was set up as a joint venture between the trust and Tourism Waitaki, with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. It opened in May 2017 and was closed by Tourism Waitaki in March this year due to falling visitor numbers.