The Department of Conservation (DOC) says work is continuing to increase the quality of visits to Kapiti Island, with the island being pushed as a world-class tourism destination.
But new, and higher, charges appear to be turning some prospective visitors off.
A DOC media release this week shows that, despite a big marketing push, slightly fewer people visited the predator-free island this summer.
The drop was also in spite of fees being waived for school trips; and an increase in the number of people allowed on the island each day.
The permit system raised the price of a trip to island for a family of four from about $190 to $300. It also increased the number of commercial operators allowed to run tours to the island and gave them responsibility for issuing permits.
Meanwhile, the upgrading work continues, Doc says.
The planning has entailed visits to the island with contractors, architects and engineers – and $450,000 has been budgeted for new projects (aside from and upgrade to the Whare).
New tracks giving more options for Rangatira visitors.
To show the lowland wetlands at Rangatira flat, a wetland boardwalk was built at the beginning of the 2012/2013 summer season.
The wetland boardwalk allows visitors to explore the lowland bush without bumping into the DOC infrastructure at the southern end of Rangatira flat.
The next step in creating more opportunities to explore Rangatira flat is another kilometre of lowland track, which will extend to the north and west of the lowland area. Construction of the track will begin
early this month (June).
Wilkinson track upgrade
Resurfacing will be done on parts of the Wilkinson track in July and August, taking two to three weeks to complete. The most slippery parts of the track will become easier for visitors to walk.
Toilets, waste water system, and shelter upgrade
And other plans to improve the visitor experience on Kapiti Island include:
• New toilets at Rangatira flat, with three cubicles instead of the current two. Construction is planned for early June.
• An upgrade of the waste water system, which is again planned for early this month.
• The visitor shelter at Rangatira flat received a new island map this season. The shelter is about to be upgraded to include tiered seating, storage for concessionaires/tour operators mand to become weather proof.
DOC will soon be undertaking work on the Whare to strengthen the chimney. Additionally, funding is being sought from the DOC National Historic funding pool to undertake further restoration work on
this important building (the oldest building in New Zealand associated with conservation!).
If the funding bid is successful, this will involve both exterior work and major restoration of the main (kitchen/living) room.
It is hoped that once this project is completed there will be greater visitor access to the Whare, where visitors will get a closer look and a better feel for what this little farmstead was like in the late 19th/early 20th century.
Departure lounge/visitor centre
DOC and the Kapiti Coast District Council have teamed up to look into the feasibility of having a departure lounge/visitor centre for Kapiti Island at Paraparaumu beach.
TRC Tourism has been awarded the contract for completing a feasibility study of this facility. Work has already begun on the
study and the report will be completed by the end of the month.
Rangatira Research Project
This will examine what assets are currently offered at Rangatira and what could be offered in the future.
ld be offered in the future.