The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary is planning to start charging visitors in the first quarter of this year.
Nelson and Tasman residents will pay a reduced entry fee compared to out of towners and this is estimated to come into effect after the sanctuary’s new foot bridge opens next month.
The move comes after the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust, which runs the sanctuary, missed out on Nelson City Council funding of $50,000. The trust already receives $150,000 a year from council.
Chief executive Ru Collin says it’s been a growing reality that they would have to start charging the public and currently, entry is by donation.
“We’ve been planning for it and we’ve been more than just talking about it. I know it’s a community project and there’s a big element inside the sanctuary whanau that would probably prefer not to, but it’s becoming a reality that we will need to move to that direction.”
He says they are looking to set rates for out-of-towners at $15 for adults, $8 dollars for 15 years and under and $40 for a family of two adults and three kids.
But for locals and those with community service and student ID cards, it will be half the cost. The adult entry rate will be $8, $4 dollars for 15 years and under, and $20 for a family. All under-fives are free.
Mayor Rachel Reese has previously noted that the sanctuary has gone through a “very challenging period”, with court proceedings against an anti-poison group, slips which damaged the predator-proof fence, and the council’s own reserve management process which she said was “less than desirable”.
The sanctuary had also been looking to introduce rowi (brown kiwi) this year but decided not to due to predator breaches.
Ru says that visitors will also have the option of joining as a supporter, which gives people unlimited access into the sanctuary for a whole year.
“We’re encouraging people to join, and we have an annual individual fee of $50 and a family fee of $100. We’d rather people take that approach and come up and use the sanctuary as much as they can,” says Ru.
“People that are coming out of the sanctuary seem to be really happy – we’ve got a visitor centre manned by some committed volunteers and we really want to connect the community with nature.”
Over the school holidays the sanctuary is open every day from 9am – 6pm, with a late-night Wednesday until 9pm.