The Conservation Department (DoC) has responded to critics commenting on a plunge in visitor numbers to Kapiti Island after a steep rise in the entry fee.
Only 283 people visited the island last month, compared with 1569 in January last year.
(The access fee rose in in February last year, making the cost of a trip for a family $300 instead of about $190 for four).
Chris Lester, DoC’s Conservation Partnerships Manager (Manawatu-Wairarapa, says: “DOC has certainly recognized the substantial recorded decrease in the January 2014 visitor numbers to Kapiti Island compared to the preceding two years of January recordings.
“DOC also recognizes the iconic nature of Kapiti Island and the wonderful opportunity the Island offers as a visitor destination and conservation experience.”
Mr Lester adds: “While it is true that DOC Concession charges have increased during this period, it is highly unlikely that this is the only contributing factor resulting in the decline in visitor statistics.
“Rather than speculating on the primary reasons behind the decline, we at DOC are committed to working with all involved parties to identify how this wonderful destination can become even more attractive and accessible to visitors.
“Given the co-operation of other parties, including tangatawhenua and concessionaires, we are hopeful of completing a full review of this issue by May 2014.”