30 Dec 2009

Cathedral Cove icecream shop upsets visitors

6:01 am on 30 December 2009

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has given a seven-week concession for an icecream stall at a remote beauty spot in Coromandel, upsetting some visitors.

Cathedral Cove, known for its natural stone arch, is accessible only by boat or a half-hour trek.

Rachel Kelleher from DoC says the icecream stand is on short-term trial, and the community will be fully consulted in the new year.

Peter Hawley, who has a 40-year association with the cove and runs a bed and breakfast in the area, says visitors have been drawn to the area because of the unspoiled environment.

"To arrive after half an hour's walk through natural bush to find a commercial activity just puts them off completely," he says.

Ms Kelleher says there are increased costs associated with operating carparking for visitors, and, following several rockfalls, the department also has to spend money on geotechnical assessments.

However she says the icecream concession is not just about covering costs, but also about what the 100,000 visitors per year want. Visitors to the site will be surveyed.

Environmental and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand co-chair Barry Weeber says conservation, wilderness and biodiversity values are what draw tourists to such locations.

He says the government should provide enough funding so DoC doesn't turn to inappropriate commercial activities for extra revenue.