Selfie sticks appearing through the window during services at Tekapo’s Church of the Good Shepherd are a common occurrence, its minister says.
Mackenzie Co-operating Church minister the Rev Andrew McDonald said noise levels outside and interruptions by visitors entering the church to take photos during services were becoming more and more of an issue.
He said while the church did not want to turn tourists away, many were interfering with the church’s original purpose of providing a place of worship.
A recent meeting between Mackenzie District Council staff and church representatives had sped up a decision to deal with the deluge of visitors expected over summer and a barrier had been erected around the church.
The council and church would share the cost of installing the fence, which was planned to be installed by Christmas, Mr McDonald said.
Council community facilities manager Garth Nixon said the fencing would provide a temporary solution, particularly over the busy summer period.
“[It is] a temporary measure .. in an effort to protect the church from the significant visitor impacts.”
Mr McDonald said concerns over the impact tourists were having on the church and its surrounding area had been raised by parishioners since the 1980s.
“It’s not a new issue.”
However, there had been a steady increase in visitor numbers to the church, tourists sometimes coming inside the church during services, only to leave five minutes later, and making lots of noise outside during services, he said.
Parishioners had also been forced to close the door to lessen the noise and discourage people from walking in mid-service, but the summer heat made the church stuffy.
Opening the windows to allow in fresh air often resulted in a selfie stick appearing through the opening, as visitors attempted to take photographs.
Mr McDonald estimated between 20 and 50 people attended Sunday service at the church, and up to 150 came to Christmas services.
Further work on the area surrounding the church and the collie dog statue is scheduled for the new year. There were plans to move the car park to the township side of the footbridge and to ban tourist buses from coming past the church.