Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari attracted 13,500 visitors in the last financial year – just fractionally down on pre-Covid numbers.
In a year where visitors were almost exclusively domestic, 56% came from the Waikato region, 17 per cent from Auckland and 10 per cent from Bay of Plenty.
The trust behind the 3400ha sanctuary aims to have it positioned as a premier tourism attraction by 2026. It is already recognised as an eco-tourism destination.
An education programme drew 3131 participants, up 10 per cent on the previous year.
In his annual report, Chief Executive Phil Lyons said the last 12 months had been challenging.
“Our team have developed a resilient mindset, adapted to an operating environment which has been, and continues to be, volatile,” he said.
“Our new normal is quite different. The way we work and connect with friends and whānau have all changed. We are excited about the future, and the prospect of opening our education centre in 2022.”
Contributions from Trust Waikato, $300,000, and the Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund, $327,000, had made the project a reality.
The education centre would provide an opportunity for an interactive kākāpō visitor experience.
“On-going fence trials by the Kākāpō Recovery Group, show promise, and we are working closely with our partners, to establish a date for kākāpō translocation in 2022.”
Mr Lyons’ report was presented to the Maungatautari Reserve Committee this week.