Successful first season for aqua play park

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Demonstration . . . Kaikanui Aqualand NZ director Mark Holder demonstrates cable wake- boarding during the final day of the season at Kaiapoi's aqua play park last month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.

By DAVID HILL

Kaiapoi’s aqua play park Trust has overcome its challenges to enjoy a successful first season.

The aqua play park has been packed away for winter, but WHoW Charitable Trust vice-chairperson Jason Mill says it has shown Kaiapoi what is possible.

“It was a great outcome.

“We had some fantastic crowds and we held a free community day on the final day to thank the North Canterbury community for their support.

“It wasn’t the easiest season with the wet weather and Covid created some challenges, but I think the investors were happy with the outcome considering what we had to overcome and we fulfilled most of our community objectives.”

The aqua play park was opened in Lake Courtenay in November as a transition project for the proposed aqua sports park, which the trust hopes to establish on former red zone land to the north of the Kaiapoi River.

While the trust is still to do its debrief with the Waimakariri District Council, Mr Mill says just under 15,000 people went through the aqua play park during the three months it was open, even though 18 days were lost to wet weather.

“We closed it three times because of the heavy rain causing flooding,” Mr Mill says. We were over-cautious, but we wanted to make sure we had a clear test before we reopened.”

The trust has worked with Ngai Tuahuriri, an ecologist, local schools and community groups to conduct water testing and to plant trees around the lake’s edge.

Kaikanui Aqualand NZ is responsible for the day-to-day running of the operation and director Mark Holder is “looking forward to a bigger and better season two”.

“Next season we will bring in some more features, we want to cater to different age groups and we’re looking at how we can run a slicker operation.”

While the details are still to be finalised, there is likely to be a separate area for smaller children next summer.

The trust also hopes to co-fund some toilets and facilities, which would onsite remain to support mahinga kai projects after the aqua play park permanently moves off-site.

On the final day Mr Holder gave a demonstration of cable wake-boarding, one of the sports which will feature should the bigger aqua sports park go ahead.

“We’ve shown what can do on a small scale, so hopefully we can keep the community on board. If we can provide the facilities to the community, there’s no reason why we can’t produce some world class talent from Christchurch and Kaiapoi.”

Mr Mill says final touches are being made to the trust’s feasibility study into the proposed aqua sports park and hopes to update the community soon.