Ross Goldfields Information and Heritage Centre
Ross Goldfields Information and Heritage Centre Gets “thumbs up”.
A proposal outlining a major facelift for the Ross Gold Fields Information and Heritage Centre has earned the thumbs up from the Steering Committee for inclusion as a project in the West Coast Tourism Major Regional Initiative.
Chairman of the MRI Steering Committee, Frank Dooley announced that the project will include improvements to the road signs promoting the historical goldfields, the addition of a history room interpretation, interactive displays and videos, the production of promotional brochures and an audio cottage providing the history of the area. “These among other initiatives associated with the project, will bring real life to the history in this region and enhance the current facility greatly” said Mr Dooley. The project is also intended to facilitate an increase in the number of visitors to the area (currently 30,000) and extend their stay” he said.
The Major Regional Initiative is designed to lift the performance of the regions tourism industry in terms of quality, yield and international competitiveness. There are 20 projects currently being considered for completion by December 2008.
Susie Breeze, Manager of the Information and Heritage Centre is ‘blown away’ by the news. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, we are just ecstatic with the outcome!” She said. The project has been a long term dream for those involved with the Centre but it was the actions of Barry Wilson and Brian Wilkinson Trustee’s of the West Coast Development Trust and Sue Fraser, a past Trustee of the Trust that set the dream to reality. “Without Barry, Brian and Sue and the tremendous support of staff from DoC including Mike Slater, Barry Hansen and Paul Davidson we would not be enjoying this tremendous news” said Ms Breeze.
“The upgrade of the Centre and the additions planned will not only mean a better facility and tourist attraction but it means we can extend winter hours. We will be able to afford to put more staff on and provide a service that we simply couldn’t afford before” she said.
West Coast Conservator Mike Slater said that the proposed MRI development will complement the Ross Historic Reserve and its associated walkway which have recently received a major upgrade. The Department’s focus has been on improving the visitor experience around the Reserve and on the walkway with new information panels, paths and a considerable improvement of the general landscape. The MRI proposal will provide a range of other visitor activities which will lift the profile of Ross as a destination considerably.
Chairman of Tourism West Coast, Tony Williams is delighted with the project addition saying the MRI projects will lift the Coast’s tourism game plan. “Development of attractions such as the Ross Goldfields project can only strengthen the West Coast’s tourism portfolio. There is a wonderful array of tourist attractions promoting our heritage and history which run in tandem with our magnificent natural wonders. The MRI provides operators an opportunity to enhance their product and deliver first class experiences to our growing tourist traffic. Tourism West Coast looks forward to working alongside operators and providing them assistance to raise the profile of their product,” said Mr Williams.
The Ross Historic Goldfields has been identified as a key project and will be included in the first round of work along with projects such as the upgrade of Shantytown as an interactive visitor attraction, the development of a mountain bike track along with the Moira Gate, Mirror Tarn and Oparara Valley walkways, the upgrade of West Coast Visitor and Information Centres, the creation of a ‘coalfields park’ at Denniston and a coordinated plan for the commercial and tourism growth of the Moana area including Lake Brunner.
The West Coast Development Trust in partnership with NZ Trade and Enterprise, Tourism West Coast, Department of Conversation and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu is managing the regional initiative which has received funding to the tune of $2m from NZTE and $2.5 from the West Coast Development Trust along with funding committed from the Department of Conservation and the Grey and Buller District Councils.