October 16 2009…

A group of American & Canadian tourists from the luxury Cruise Liner Star Princess, and travelling on west Auckland’s ‘Coast to Coast Farm & Eco-tour’, attended the official opening of the new Kumeu Visitor Information Centre by the Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, John Key.

In his speech, the Prime Minister spoke of the importance of tourism to the New Zealand economy, and how fitting it was to have some overseas visitors there at the opening. The date of the Centre’s official launch just happened to coincide with the arrival of the Star Princess in Auckland, and a group were on the ‘Coast to Coast Eco-tour’ shore excursion hosted by owner/operator’s Donna and Stuart Hamilton. As Stuart is Treasurer of the Visitor Centre, and was required to meet the Prime Minister on arrival, the tour group had to attend as well, as neither event could be cancelled!

Hon. John Key at the opening of the Kumeu Visitor Information Centre.

The Kumeu Visitor Centre had humble beginnings many years ago in Huapai (close to Kumeu). Staffed by volunteers and occupying a small tin shed adjacent to the local garden nursery, resulted in this centre never able to achieve an i-SITE status. More recently, it shifted onto the opposite side of the road into a building with United Travel. Even though this move was to a better building, it was unfortunate that it was not in the correct position for vehicles travelling north. When the latest location became available, the Kumeu Coast and Country committee unanimously agreed to shift. A lot of these recent achievements have been made possible by the Visitor Centre Manager Bernadette Limbrick.

Funded by Rodney District Council, the Kumeu Visitor Centre is well on the way to becoming an i-SITE and when this is achieved it will be the only i-SITE in the west Auckland area, and currently the only Information Centre in New Zealand which has been officially opened by a Prime Minister.

With being just 30 minutes from downtown, the west Auckland area (of Rodney), is rapidly becoming Auckland’s playground. Historic wineries, mountain biking in the Woodhill forest, Muriwai beach with its black iron sands and famous sea-bird colony, cafes, bed and breakfasts and wedding venues, all cater for the many visitors.

The ‘Coast to Coast Eco-tour’ shore excursion caters for smaller sized, more personal tours, (compared to the regular tours offered by the Cruiselines), and is an ideal way in which to explore this attractions of this west Auckland region. At the ‘Coast to Coast Tours’ farm, guests enjoy the ‘Kiwiana-themed’ BBQ lunch, sheep shearing demo, and a complimentary group Native tree planting to offset the carbon emissions from their tour.

Transport on the day was in conjunction with Pavlovich Coachlines

Auckland Shore Excursion tours Group photo on Auckland shore excursion tour Kiwiana-themed BBQ lunch for Cruise Boat guests Native tree planting on Auckland shore excursion tour

Sadly, this Visitor Centre closed a couple of years later due to the Auckland Council trimming costs on “unproductive” establishments. We (as some of the many people who had fought so long and strong to keep our Information Centre in our community and gateway to the West region) were not at all happy.