The idea of charging out-of-towners $25 to visit Hamilton Gardens is being considered by Hamilton City Council.
The gate fee would relate to the themed gardens only; access to Turtle Lake and other parts of the renowned botanic gardens would remain free.
The suggestion was first made in March, and it is part of Mayor Andrew King’s draft budget for the city’s 10-year plan, the Waikato Times reported last week. The gate fee would earn $12 million for the garden’s ongoing development.
Debate begins on the 10-year-plan next week but response to the story on Facebook has been heated and almost all are opposed to the idea.
One commenter said a better idea was to fire whoever comes up with these suggestions.
“And hey presto, huge savings.”
One Ngaruawahia resident said she goes to Hamilton daily. “In theory I’d be charged… that’s pretty rude really as I already contribute to businesses in Hamilton….I think that a lot of people would just not go to the gardens.”
Another who lives five minutes from the city said pretty much all her family’s spending was in Hamilton. “So I think we nearby dwellers make a significant contribution to the city’s economy without it bearing any of our costs.
“Our district council even contributes to the city library so we can use it. Our total economic contribution has got to be worth a heck of a lot more than $25.”
Another commenter said 48,000 people travel into Hamilton each day for work from outside the boundary. “How many won’t bother bringing their guests and family in to town in the weekends when they have to pay… this is just lunacy.”
Another said a flat charge to visit Auckland Museum resulted in people not visiting. “It made us change our minds about going in. The same will happen with such a horrendous amount, and Hamilton will be worse off…”
An overseas visitor said she visited for half a day recently. “I really enjoyed the short time I had there and will visit again next time I’m over. But I will not be dropping by if the fee is $25. Why not just a gold coin for entry? Encourage people to visit. Don’t scare them away.”
“I hate living in Hamilton,” said one woman, “especially when you’ve been to New Plymouth and seen all the free stuff for kids and families to do there. Makes Hamilton City Council look like white-collar criminals.”
Another agreed – “…they prove that cool free stuff for visitors obviously brings bucks to New Plymouth.”
Hamilton Gardens was one of the pleasures of visiting her old home town, said one out-of-towner. “I always take visitors and recommend them to the gardens which are superb. However I would not go if there was a $25 charge. I will be very sad if this happens. It was one of the things I was proud of – an amazingly beautiful place for all – free of charge.”
Responding to a question about Gourmet in the Gardens, Paula Southgate said the proposal, which was the Mayor’s, is for the themed gardens only. “This is all up for debate.”