DEVELOPMENT of the new $2.5 million Curio Bay Tumu Toka Natural Heritage Visitor Centre has been completed.
It will be open to the public following an open day on Saturday, December 16.
South Catlins Charitable Trust (SCCT) chairman Paul Duffy said the trust was formed 15 years ago with this goal in mind.
“We are pleased to have completed it and finally deliver something we have been promising the community for a long time.”
Mr Duffy said the total cost of the project was $3.39m, with the trust funding $2.5m for the visitor centre and the Department of Conservation (DoC) funding the car parking, toilet facilities, signage and a walking track to the petrified forest.
The partnership with DoC, the Southland District Council putting in a wastewater system and the work, support and advice of Venture Southland staff had been crucial to the project’s completion, he said.
The trust had a debt of about $300,000 outstanding, which would be repaid through a service agreement with the operator of the centre, similar to a lease, he said.
“It is a lot, but percentage-wise we think it is a fairly good result.”
The heritage centre, located at the southern entrance to the Catlins, incorporates an interpretation, interactive visual displays telling the story of the wildlife, geology and iwi history of the area, as well as a cafe and theatre.
“People will be amazed when they come to experience the interpretation. It is something special,” Mr Duffy said.