11 Oct 2016

Penguin fence ruffles feathers

From Checkpoint, 5:23 pm on 11 October 2016

The agency that built the country's first penguin underpass says it's willing to lower a protective fence that has upset locals.

The tunnel project was set up next to Oamaru's blue penguin colony to protect the birds from traffic and tourists, and was completed several weeks ago.

Residents and the town's mayor, Gary Kircher, have complained that the fence was too high and blocked their view of the penguins and the harbour.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill acknowledged his agency should have consulted more widely before putting the fence up.

"Could it be shorter? Probably, possibly. Those are things that we are quite happy to investigate and discuss with the interested parties. 

"Really, all we are trying to do is get the best wildlife outcome, and the best outcome for the people who are interested in using this part of the harbour."

Mr Gaskill said he was willing to hear suggestions on lowering the fence, while still protecting the penguins.