Golden opportunity sees record crowds checking out attractions

TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2014

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Wellington Zoo and Zealandia attracted record numbers as entry prices were slashed for the day to just a gold coin donation.

The annual Wellington Open Day, run by Positively Wellington Tourism and now in its fourth year, saw 20 Wellington visitor attractions offer gold-coin entry yesterday, with money raised going to charities of the attractions' choice.

Among the busiest attractions this year were Zealandia, which usually charges $17.50 for an adult, and Wellington Zoo, which usually charges $21 for an adult.

For the zoo, it meant 7006 people made the most of the cut-price entry - its largest number through the gates on record - well up on the 1000 to 1500 on a usual fine weekend day, and more than the 6800 at last year's open day.

"We finally cracked the 7000," zoo spokesman Glenn Reddiex said of the "fantastic" day.

To cope with crowds, the zoo set up an extra entrance and put on more parking. "It's great. We see a lot of people as they exit. There's been some really good feedback."

Money raised would go to the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund, to go towards local and international conservation projects.

For Island Bay 3-year-old Niamh McCallum it was a chance not only to get up close to the giraffes, but also to hand-feed giraffe Tisa and see its "huge feet".

Zealandia fundraising co-ordinator Jon McQueen said the estimated 4500 who visited the Karori sanctuary yesterday was believed to be a new record.

Previous open days had attracted about 4000 visitors. "The demographic has been fantastic. We have had a lot of families."

Money raised goes to the Karori Sanctuary Trust, which runs Zealandia. Also taking part in the open day were BNZ Museum, Carter Observatory, Circa Theatre, City Gallery, Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, Motel Bar, Te Papa, Museum of Wellington City and Sea, New Zealand Cricket Museum, NZ Portrait Gallery, Old St Paul's, Reserve Bank Museum, Staglands, The Library Bar, Toi Poneke Arts Centre, Walk Wellington, Wellington Cable Car, and Wellington Ocean Sports.

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- The Dominion Post

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