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Akaroa tourism carrying capacity

Sleeman, Ray
Fields of Research
Akaroa has been an attractive place for settlement since the Polynesian people arrived in New Zealand many centuries ago. Three successive waves of Maori have inhabited the Akaroa area: the Waitaha, the Kati Mamoe and then from the early 17th century, the Ngai Tahu. This was followed by French, English and Germans in the 1830s and 40s. After the railway was completed from Christchurch to Little River in 1886, a coach service over Hilltop brought holiday-makers to Akaroa. Tourism, which was to play an increasingly important role in Akaroa’s life as the 20th century advanced, began in the 19th century and boarding houses and hotels were among the larger buildings put up in Akaroa before 1900. In more recent years Akaroa has become a popular location for holiday homes as well as increasing numbers of domestic and international visitors. Akaroa has many attributes that have drawn both permanent residents and visitors to the area. These include the landscapes, recreational opportunities (land and water), history and heritage, peace and tranquillity, a range of services (school, hospital) as well as the closeness of Akaroa to Christchurch. In more recent times the attractiveness of Akaroa and its broad appeal has seen a number of individuals and groups question whether the township can cope with a growing number of visitors, their impacts on the permanent residents and environment and ultimately the sustainability of the township. Within New Zealand there are many small rural communities that rely on tourism for their economic base. Unlike larger cities where visitors can be accommodated relatively easily because tourism comprises a small component of the total population and utilises a small proportion of the services available, in rural areas small changes in visitor numbers can have significant and often negative impacts. The situation in Akaroa is made more complex by the physical characteristics of the town and that it is a destination. People do not pass through Akaroa unlike many tourism focused communities located alongside state highways (e.g. Punakaiki, Franz Josef and Arthurs Pass). This study is concerned with understanding the existing and potential impacts of tourism as visitor numbers grow and developing a plan of action to ensure that the attributes valued by all those visiting and living in Akaroa are not devalued to the extent that the township loses its attractiveness and its economic base (tourism). Through reviews of existing reports, research with visitors, businesses and residents as well as consultation with Christchurch City Council staff, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and other groups and individuals a number of key issues were identified. The issues were identified as constraints (factors that cannot easily be managed); bottlenecks (limiting factors that managers can manipulate) and impacts (elements affected by the intensity and type of use). Together these comprise the major Tourism Carrying Capacity (TCC) issues for Akaroa. Strategies to mitigate the issues are also identified, along with priorities which are in line with the framework for the Akaroa Harbour Basin Settlements Study (AHBSS) prospective projects.
Source DOI
©LEaP, Lincoln University, New Zealand 2009. This information may be copied or reproduced electronically and distributed to others without restriction, provided LEaP, Lincoln University is acknowledged as the source of information. Under no circumstances may a charge be made for this information without the express permission of LEaP, Lincoln University, New Zealand.
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