Pricinct pulling in the tourists

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“Flat out” was how Oamaru’s i-SITE office staff were feeling on Friday.

“We’ve been flat out for the last couple of days,” staff member Julie Harper said. “Yesterday we had 506 people through the door and they were not locals.”

“Over the New Year, we’ve had Germans, Australians, Americans, Japanese and North Islanders.

“There’ve been about 300 to 500 most days.”

Mrs Harper said visitors were not necessarily coming to Oamaru to view the old buildings, but it was an added bonus.

“People say they are surprised when they see the buildings; they’re becoming more and more known.”

Thomas Koesterkamp, of Dusseldorf, Germany, was travelling through Oamaru to Dunedin with his family and decided to stop off.

“We heard about the penguins and steampunk; this (the precinct) is very nice to see.”

Maria Blackburn, of Wellington, and her daughter Rachel Blackburn, of Balclutha, were also travelling through.

“We’ve always just driven through but we thought we’d stop and look around. It (the precinct) is fantastic and we need to keep it going because New Zealand’s heritage is not being looked after very well,” Mrs Blackburn said.

“Also, the environmental thing. It’s good to see small industries and it’s good to see people can get ahead with smaller enterprises rather than relying on multi-nationals. It’s the New Zealand ‘I can do’ attitude.”

Matt Calder and his family were visiting from Blenheim, and with relatives in town, he said he and his family were regular visitors.

“It seems to get better every time we come, especially with the park.”

Shaun Colvin, of Invercargill, has been working on contract in Oamaru and was looking around the precinct with his family.

“The playground is wicked; the boys loved it.”

Rose McDonald and Dave Rasmussen, of Timaru, said they visited the precinct often.

“We love the atmosphere of the place,” Ms McDonald said.

Not just visitors were enjoying the day out. Oamaru locals Maxine Shea and her son Quinn, 2, were at the playground.

“We always come here; there’s so much to do at the park. Quinn loves the old tractors and train,” she said.

By CHRIS TOBIN