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Site development . . . Work is under way to build five new thermal pools at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve and Spa. Image: Supplied

 

By Robyn Bristow

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa has taken a unique approach to the construction of five new thermal pools to protect their much-loved Redwood trees.

Work is progressing well on the new pools which it is hoped will be ready by October. Work on a new 13.5 metre aquatic thrill ride expected to start in a few weeks.

They new pools will sit among river boulder terraces and native gardens, on a grassed area next to the Rainbow Pools.

General Manager Graeme Abbot says unlike all the other pools in the complex, these pools will be on timber piles.

“We have a number of 90-year-old giant Redwood trees near the complex and digging these pools into the ground could have damaged their root systems. That wasn’t an option so we’re carefully installing more than 280 timber piles for the pools to sit on top of,” he says.

Mr Abbot says this approach has added around $50,000 to the project’s budget, but it’s money well spent.

“It’s a small price to pay really. Our natural surroundings are a big part of what makes this place special, and we’re dedicated to protecting that.”

The complex is also taking a sustainable approach to powering and operating the new pools with half the energy needed to run them coming from a heat transfer unit that will capture waste heat from the complex’s methane generator.

The new 65kw Capstone micro turbine generator converts previously wasted methane gas (from an old gas bore and a thermal deep water bore) into electricity. It is the only generator of its type in New Zealand and won the Innovation category of this year’s EECA Awards.

“The pools are also designed to be super water efficient with no holding tanks. We’re pretty proud of this work,” says Mr Abbot.