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Surf's up ... A world-class aquatic sports park in Kaiapoi has the potential to draw national and international visitors. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Kaiapoi could be home to a world-leading aquatic sports park.

The WHoW Charitable Trust is looking to locate whitewater, surf and cable wakeboard parks in one location alongside the Kaiapoi River in the residential red zone.

The facility is likely to cost close to $100 million and has the potential to draw 150,000 visitors annually to the riverside town.

The trust previously proposed the park in the Christchurch residential red zone but is now turning its sights to Kaiapoi due to the efforts of Enterprise North Canterbury (ENC).

WHoW Trust chairman Tony Joseph says investigating Kaiapoi for an aquasports hub makes a lot of sense.

“Enterprise North Canterbury approached us asking if we would consider Kaiapoi. The case they put to us was compelling.

“That, coupled with ongoing uncertainties around building in the Christchurch red zone, made it logical to investigate Kaiapoi in more detail.”

Mr Joseph indicated that the group hasn’t completely ruled out the Christchurch red zone just yet.

“We’re only at the preliminary feasibility stage and there are still many hurdles to jump.”

ENC’s role is to attract businesses and visitors to North Canterbury, and it has worked closely with WHoW to consider Kaiapoi.

Meanwhile, the Waimakariri District Council is helping the trust to complete early feasibility work on the proposed location.

“Globally, water sports have a huge following,” ENC’s business support manager, Miles Dalton, says.

“Participants happily travel nationally or internationally to experience facilities such as this. Combined with other adventure offerings within Canterbury, it makes our region a very compelling place to visit,” he says.

The Waimakariri District Council’s manager for strategy and engagement, Simon Markham, says the proposal is closely aligned with the regeneration remit given by the community. “We are excited to be working with the trust to see if this might work in our district.”

Kaiapoi red zone land covers about 80 hectares damaged in the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. The council owns it following a land transfer from the Crown in 2018. All parties hope the facility can be developed quickly.

Surfing is now an Olympic sport and this facility, which could become the only wave garden in New Zealand, would provide a much-needed training facility for New Zealand and Pacific athletes. The park would be close to Christchurch Airport and transport routes.

A Give A Little campaign is being launched next week to help the trust raise funds for preliminary feasibility work. The Enterprise North Canterbury Board has committed some funding.