The New Zealand government is proposing to transform the limestone caves and arches of the Oparara River Basin into what opponents are calling ‘a crazy theme park’.
The 35 million year old Oparara caves date back to the time when ice first began to form in Antarctica.
Currently visited by over 20,000 walkers and nature lovers a year, the new plans include light shows, the possible rebranding of Karamea as ‘Moa town’ and the installation of life-sized Moa statues in the native forest.
The Department of Conservation hopes the changes will significantly boost tourist numbers.
While the plans have been well-received by some local businesses, others have voiced concerns about the risk to the fragile flora and fauna.
The news comes after the NZ government announced major funding to improve infrastructure in the country in response to growing visitor numbers.
Image: Pseudopanax@Wikimedia, Creative Commons CC BY 3.0