Visitors flocking to Oamaru

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Oamaru has been getting busier each summer and these holidays have been no different.

Tourism Waitaki marketing manager Ian Elliott said he had spoken to a number of people around Oamaru who said there had been a lot of international visitors over the last couple of weeks.

“It’s probably a little bit stronger than last year.

“My sense is that the numbers are growing each year.”

The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony was also up about 10 per cent in visitor numbers than the same time last year, he said.

“It’s clearly going really well.

” Tourism Waitaki had done more marketing for Oamaru which may have helped increase the numbers of people coming to the area and there is also a growing awareness nationally and internationally that Waitaki is a place of note, Mr Elliott said.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail has been another big drawcard and a lot of people had been using it this summer.

Presence on Harbour owner Dawn Brown had noticed that the precinct had been very busy and vibrant over Christmas and New Year.

“I would say it was busier than last year,” she said.

One reason for this could be because a lot of the premises in the area were open around this time so it helped to keep people in Oamaru longer, she said.

“We had a good mix of domestic and overseas tourists.”

While many tourists came especially to see the precinct, others were still stumbling upon it and had told her they thought it was a great area and there was nowhere else like it in New
Zealand.

Oamaru Top 10 Holiday Park owner Tracy Kirk had been as busy as ever with holiday-makers over the summer.

The weather’s been great, which has helped, she said.Forrester Gallery and North Otago Museum director Jane Macknight said both facilities had received a high number of visitors over the holidays.

“People are really enjoying our exhibitions.”

Visitors to the gallery are especially loving the restored kauri floor and stairwell that were completed in December, she said.

Waitaki District Health Services chief executive Robert Gonzales said there had also been a noticeable amount of people from out of town in the emergency department of the Oamaru Hospital over the holiday period.

This would indicate that more people were staying or visiting the area, he said.

“There’s a lot of people holidaying around the place.”

By Ruby Harfield

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD – From left, Nicky Ashton and Jaime Humm, from Christchurch with tour guide Natalie Powazynski, yesterday look for little blue penguins at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, which has been particularly busy over Christmas and New Year.