WHAKAPAPA GETS $800,000 FACELIFT

  • Nick Smith
Conservation

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today announced Government approval for a $800,000 upgrade of the Whakapapa Visitor Centre involving substantial expansion of the building, new interactive displays and a new integrated audio visual show.

"Tongariro National Park is the heart of the Central North Island visitor industry and attracts over one million visitors a year. Yesterday's facilities will not meet tomorrow's demands. If the industry is to grow, standards of facilities must also improve. This investment by Government will pay handsome dividends in future tourism returns for the Taupo and Ruapehu Districts."

This upgrade is also about building a sense of nationhood. Tongariro was our first National Park. It now has World Heritage Status for both its cultural and natural values and is one of our national icons. We want New Zealanders, young and old, to understand and appreciate all that is special about the Tongariro National Park."

Construction will begin in February 2000 and be completed and opened in late September 2000. September has been chosen as this was the month, 113 years ago, that the nucleus of the Park was gifted by Te Heuheu Tukino IV Horonuku Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa.

"We need to remember and celebrate the gift of the Park and acknowledge the importance of that in its management and it's use by the public. The displays are an exciting way to inform visitors of the cultural significance and the unique volcanic, and at times restless, landscape that they are in."