Kapiti Island gateway mooted

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 08:22 31/01/2013

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Kapiti Observer

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Kapiti's council is set to put $35,000 into a feasibility study on a one-stop gateway for Kapiti Island tourism.

The study would be jointly funded with the Department of Conservation and examine whether a visitor centre, likely at the Kapiti Boat Club, is viable.

Kapiti Coast District councillors decide today whether to approve the money requested from a projected rates surplus.

Strategic projects manager Philippa Richardson said a visitor centre and single departure point would boost biosecurity, and capitalise on tourism potential.

"Kapiti Island is generally seen as one of the district's most significant visitor attractions. It is also generally recognised that its potential as a world-class tourism destination is still largely untapped," Ms Richardson said.

Stakeholders agree that the "next logical step" is to commission a feasibility study to establish the size, shape and viability of the proposed project, she said.

Meanwhile Ms Richardson said while the boat club is the preferred site, it "is not necessarily straightforward", given multiple land ownership in the area.

"The land around the boating club is recreation reserve owned by DOC and vested in the council . . . part of this area falls within existing and proposed coastal development control lines found in the District Plan. Any building would be likely to need to be relocatable."

The council owns land to the north of the boating club that is part of the car park.

"This piece of land was purchased for road purposes but is not managed as road. It is treated as if it was an esplanade reserve within the wider recreation reserve protecting the coastal margin."

However Ms Richardson said growth in visitors and tourism businesses directly and indirectly associated with Kapiti Island, should boost local jobs and income.

Councillors are asked to approve the $35,000 for the feasibility study, and $15,000 to push forward a review of the district's network of i-SITEs to run in parallel with the gateway study.

WHAT'S THE GATEWAY?

The concept is to "create a distinctive building or space" to house a visitor centre on the mainland, promoting the island and boosting visitors to Kapiti. It would include information on history and ecology; act as a departure point for visitors; provide a retail outlet for tickets and permits; offer cafe space and space for biosecurity checks; provide arts, educational and interpretive material; and include parking.

- A Kapiti Coast District Council report on the Gateway to Kapiti Island concept.

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