'Exciting' plans unveiled for Peel Forest expansion

18:53, Feb 27 2013
peel forest eco-lodge
GROWING DEMAND: One of the Peel Forest Outdoor Centre's eco lodges. The group is looking to expand its accommodation facilities to keep up with growing demand from large groups. INSET: An artist's impression of what one of the cabins could look like.

Development plans are on the drawing board for the Peel Forest Outdoor Centre as it tries to keep up with growing demand.

Staff hosted an open day this week to share their plans with the public, giving them an idea of what the centre could look like once expansion is completed.

The centre's Peel Forest Eco Lodge has 30 beds. However, expansion would see that figure increase to about 80, director Andre Schoneveld said.

"The plan is [to have] eight-bunk cabins, which will all be self-contained with solar electricity."

He said it was an exciting time for the centre, which had grown in popularity among various groups including schools. School groups made up a large proportion of visitors.

"It's that big shift from the old days where a class goes to camp, one at a time."


Now it was more common for entire year groups to go on camp at the same time, he said.

The main focus of the expansion was to increase accommodation to help cope with demand from larger groups.

It would also teach people the importance of sustainable living.

"The whole idea is really, the students have to be a bit engaged. If you leave your lights on and go out all day, you might find you don't have any lights [when] you need them."

He said if visitors wanted hot water they would have to light the fire at night time. The expansion would include an extra facilities building, complete with kitchen, dining room and an indoor rock wall.

The Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury has given the centre $40,000 to kickstart the project - about half of the money needed, Mr Schoneveld said.

The Timaru Herald