An inexplicable theft in the Te Moana Gorge could leave travellers caught short and the authorities with a large bill.
The scenic reserve and gorge is a popular camping site and features a waterfall and deep swimming hole.
A visitor to the gorge called the Timaru District Council this week after noticing that someone had made off with the modern single block toilet that had been installed recently.
It was stolen some time between last Thursday and Monday.
The toilet, which will cost about $5000 to replace, was customised with local information on the outside walls. It was stolen in the past few weeks, leaving only a concrete pad and the underground chamber behind.
Timaru District Council group manager corporate services Tina Rogers said it was a baffling theft, considering how distinctively marked the toilet was, and the fact it was surrounded by a chain fence and bollards.
“We’re stumped as to why someone would go to the not inconsiderable effort to steal the toilet. It isn’t even a self-contained unit that could be easily put to another use,” she said.
“There was the initial thought that the storm may have blown it away, but on closer inspection the bolts holding the toilet on have been carefully removed, so someone has gone onsite, unbolted the toilets, removed the chimney from the holding tank and lifted it over the boundary fence.
“We’re now facing a $5000 bill to reinstate a toilet at this site, and we’re considering the option of removing it each winter to stop it disappearing again.”
There are two other toilet blocks at Te Moana Gorge that are still open.