By Robyn Bristow
A group of Hanmer Springs residents and property owners say a flyride proposed in the alpine village will ruin everything that is special about Conical Hill.
The Friends of Conical Hill claim the push to establish the ride shows the Hurunui District Council, and the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa (HSTPS), which is owned by the council and driving the proposal, have no social conscience over the effect the flyride will have on property owners and
HSTPS has applied for resource consent from Hurunui District Council to construct and operate the Flyride. There has been 55 submissions to the consent which will be heard before an indpendent commissioner. A hearing date has yet to be set.
The proposal consists of a cable track system on seven poles. The ride is provided in trolleys suspended from the cable track, and it changes direction at each pole. It is being funded by $2.123m from the government’s infrastructure funding scheme and $123,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund.
The same type of ride was proposed for Taupo but was withdrawn over the same concerns voiced by local residents, the group says.
Ross Carter, a Hanmer Springs resident and business owner, says, the council and the HSTPS are driven purely by ‘‘profit and growth’’ at the expense of the environment and wildlife, people’s enjoyment of public space, and the mental health and well-being of the public.
‘‘We hasten to add that we are not against the proposal itself.
‘‘We just don’t like where they’re putting it. There are plenty of hills around Hanmer.
‘‘A flyride can go on any one of the many hills around Hanmer. And it could be more fun too,’’ he says.
Mr Carter says the proposed flyride will only go at walking speed.
‘‘Pick any other hill, and they could go faster. They don’t need to spoil Conical Hill to create a Flyride.’’
The Friends are critical of the process where the council gets to decide if a business it owns and benefits from can build on public reserve land.
‘‘We (The Friends) are deeply concerned about the effects such a ride will have on amenity values, parking concerns, privacy and the peace and quiet currently enjoyed by local property owners and residents.
‘‘Conical Hill is an iconic visitor experience, enjoyed by generations of visitors for over 100 years who walk the hill for its natural quiet, views and birdlife. Rare and endangered species of birds and geckos are present on the hill.
They’ll never survive the construction of a Flyride in the middle of their patch.’’
Mr Carter says the proposed ride breaches several rules in the Hurunui District Plan including pole size, noise limits and lack of car parking.
A resource consent was lodged by HSTPS in April for the flyride on the western slopes of Conical Hill, but it stalled in May, before being resubmitted.
Pools general manager Graeme Abbot said at the time of it stalling that detailed planning had shown some poles would have to be moved because of the topography.
‘‘That side of the hill is undulating. Some of the poles need to be increased in height, and more pines need to be cut down than initially thought.’’
This, he said, was considered a big change which came to light after the consent application was lodged.
‘‘The information on the consent was not as accurate as we would like, so we have put it on hold until we have all the detail,’’ he said.