Covid-19 and border closures force the closure of Rotorua’s tourism icon, Rainbow Springs

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Rainbow Springs in Rotorua has been welcoming visitors since 1932, but could not survive the Covid-19 border closures.

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Rainbow Springs in Rotorua has been welcoming visitors since 1932, but could not survive the Covid-19 border closures.

An iconic tourist operation that has been welcoming guests for 90 years is set to close, the latest victim of Covid -19, after Ngāi Tahu Holdings confirmed Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs was no longer “financially viable”.

The tourist attraction, which hosted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their visit to New Zealand in 2018, has been closed since April 2020.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 has had a significant impact on Rainbow Springs’ business, which was heavily dependent on international tourism,” said Jo Allison, managing director of business services at Ngāi Tahu Holdings.

“After careful consideration of all possible scenarios, Ngāi Tahu Holdings is proposing to permanently close its doors and relocate wildlife,” she said.

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“We will focus on supporting our affected kaimahi and ensuring the welfare of all animals during this transition period. If the proposal is accepted, we will work proactively with the Zoo and Aquarium Association to relocate the animals.

Allison said they remain committed to the work of the National Kiwifruit Hatchery at the site, which is open “and will continue to operate at this site for the foreseeable future while we develop plans to move it to the Agrodome site recently. reopened”.

“A final decision will be made once the proposal to close the park has been reviewed and staff have had an opportunity to comment,” she said.

The executive director of the Kiwis for Kiwi conservation group, Michelle Impey, said while the closure of Rainbow Springs was a sad development, she was pleased that the “critical” work of the Kiwi hatchery continued.

Michalle Impey, Executive Director of Kiwis for Kiwi, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their 2018 visit to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rainbow Springs.

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Michalle Impey, Executive Director of Kiwis for Kiwi, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their 2018 visit to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rainbow Springs.

Impey, who showed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex around the site during their visit, said they were responsible for hatching thousands of Kiwi chicks that were released into the wild.

She also said the hatchery has played a key role in developing expertise around kiwifruit conservation in New Zealand.

“We’ve always maintained that it’s really important to keep them open and functional,” she said.

“We are delighted that a decision has been made, really happy to have this clarity. Ecstatic for the conservation of the kiwi.

Impey’s sentiments were echoed by Department of Conservation Ecology Technical Adviser Jess Scrimgeour.

“The National Kiwi Hatchery has a significant amount of skill and experience in incubating kiwi eggs and raising small chicks,” she said.

“The hatchery has played a pivotal role in improving the standard of care for kiwifruit by maintaining a 24-hour helpline for practitioners and other kiwifruit facilities, running training workshops and facilitating registrations with other facilities to continue improving standards and best practices. .

“We appreciate the National Kiwifruit Hatchery’s contribution to helping kiwifruit numbers increase through the release of young kiwifruit into the wild.”

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