Seeking site for Oyster World

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Concept image of Bluff Oyster World. Image: ODT files

ALTHOUGH delayed, plans to develop Bluff Oyster World are still progressing.

Awarua Developments Ltd (ADL) chairwoman Aimee Kaio said the project had been delayed in part because they were aware several other entities were planning initiatives in Bluff, and they wanted to ensure Oyster World fitted with those projects.

“We could have sourced the investment immediately, but it is a missed opportunity if we don’t have a clear vision of the Bluff plan. It all needs to fit,” she said.

“It’s all timing and I am quite glad we have held it back because it needs to be right.”

The proposal to develop Bluff Oyster World was first touted at the launch of the Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) in November 2016.

Estimated to cost between $5 million to more than $10 million, Bluff Oyster World is proposed to be an oyster-based attraction incorporating a visitor information centre, oyster-themed museum, retail space, education/function area and restaurant.

“We are not talking about a small experience, we are talking about something quite large.”

SoRDS allocated $80,000 in funding to ADL in 2017 to conduct a feasibility study of Bluff Oyster World.

ADL was set up by representatives from Awarua runanga in 2016 to oversee projects designed to rejuvenate the port town.

Ms Kaio said the feasibility study found in favour of the venture as a tourism experience, but recommended other operational initiatives be incorporated into the development to make it viable.

“It couldn’t just rely on tourism so we are looking to incorporate research, education and conference/function facilities.”

Finding a suitable site for the development was proving difficult.

Ms Kaio said they were still in the process of finalising a site, but after much deliberation, they had decided Oyster World needed to be in the centre of the township.

Establishing Oyster World in a central location would bring the most traffic into the centre of town and benefit other businesses and initiatives being developed in Bluff, she said.

“[Finding] something in the centre of Bluff is important so its impact would support [other projects under way or planned] in Bluff.”

Ms Kaio said the old wharf had been condemned, the foreshore was not secure enough to support the structure and other potential sites were owned by the Invercargill City Council, South Port or private individuals.

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