The Timaru District Council is proposing to build a platform from which people can view the little blue penguins (korora) at Caroline Bay.
The platform would be able to hold up to 100 people and feature a ramp to help protect the penguins from people climbing down the rocks, or walking dogs through the colony.
Work on costing is being prepared for next month’s tourism infrastructure funding round.
Timaru mayor Damon Odey said the project would be a huge enhancement for everyone who visited the penguins and a boost to the penguins’ environment.
“We’re incredibly lucky to have these penguins right on the doorstep to the city, but for a while now I’ve been concerned that the visitor experience wasn’t as good as people would expect.
“Now that the colony is fairly stable, and the number of visitors is growing, I thought it was time that the council stepped in to help improve the situation and provide a safer option than standing in the roadway.
“The Tourism Infrastructure Fund offers us the opportunity to provide a fantastic bit of infrastructure for both visitors and locals, and access central government funding to do so.
Access to beach . . . Steps will lead from the platform to the beach. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Peter Bennett, founder of the Timaru Penguins Group, welcomed the project, saying it was a brilliant idea.
“The plans look fantastic and it also recognises the efforts of our volunteers to ensure the colony was given a chance to grow,” he said.
“The council has come to me with their initial plans and has been taking my feedback around the positioning of the platform to enable maximum protection of the penguins and a great viewing experience.”
Mr Bennett said people were walking along the rope line and down beside the rocks looking for penguins after dark with torches, and there were still dog prints in the fenced area.
“Having a more obvious official viewing platform for us will be a great benefit as it will reduce the number of people walking up and down the roadway and disturbing the penguins during nesting time.
“The new entrance off the platform also takes the dog walkers well away from the rocks and the roped area.
“Visitors and tourists to Timaru will have a different experience from other centres to watch the penguins, and I’m sure they will be suitably impressed.”