6 Dec 2017

Tekapo tourists photobomb weddings, funerals

7:05 pm on 6 December 2017

Tourists have been pushing into weddings and funerals to get the perfect holiday snap from inside Tekapo's famous Church of the Good Shepherd - driving the local council to take steps to limit access to the church.

Tourists throng at the church in Tekapo.

Tourists throng at the church in Tekapo. Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham

The Mackenzie District Mayor said some of the almost one million visitors a year to Tekapo's famous Church of the Good Shepherd were being abusive and disrespectful, and the behaviour could no longer be tolerated.

Graham Smith said the church was still an operating church, and the congregation had had to put up with people wandering in during services, including taking photos during weddings and funerals.

He said even having wardens at the doors hadn't deterred people.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Tekapo.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Tekapo. Photo: 123RF

"They are getting verbally abused at because they try to tell people that the church is on at the moment, or a funeral is on - please shift back. Major problems. I've heard that a couple of weddings had been cancelled at the church because no-one will give people a bit of privacy."

And the Tekapo Community Board said it was also having to put up with people using the bushes as a toilet and dropping litter.

Mr Smith said the council had agreed to make changes.

It had applied for $290,000 in funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to build a rock wall around the church, and to move the parking area from out the front of the church to an area around 10 minutes walk away.

They were now hoping for a decision by the end of the year.

Mr Smith said they couldn't wait any longer and the council would pay for a temporary fence.

"We are basically going to put up a netting fence slightly outside of the boundary, so we can actually control who can go inside. People will still be able to go inside but when there is church on they'll put the barrier down to stop people going right up."

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