By ROBYN BRISTOW
The manager of the hot pools at Hanmer Springs is convinced its new movie venture will go swimmingly.
The Hurunui District Council-owned pools complex is investing in an inflatable screen, a projector and sound equipment, with the intention of starting movies on December 8, incorporating the main heated freshwater pool.
While urban theatres turn on the comfort of lounge furniture in chic surroundings, Hanmer Springs will be offering fresh air, unspoilt scenery, and the luxury of lazing around in the pool.
Pools general manager Graeme Abbot says the screen will be able to be used at other venues in the village as well as across the Hurunui district.
The only drawback for now is that they won’t start until 9pm when it gets dark, but moves are afoot to cater for the younger audience by finding a suitable space at the pools to use the equipment at earlier times.
The initiative is part of a $4.3 million revamp of the pools complex in which five new thermal pools, inter-linked via waterfalls with beach access, and a new aquatic thrill ride are planned.
Construction is expected to start next April, provided the project gets the thumbs up from a commissioner, sitting on behalf of the Hurunui District Council, who will hold a hearing over the resource consent to alter and extend the pool facilities.
Mr Abbot says the additions are designed to improve visitor appeal, with the last upgrade being nine years ago.
“It is really exciting and will be ready for the summer of 2019,” he says.
“We are always looking for ways to improve and these additions will add to both the bathing and fun-filled elements of our business.
“We’re also pretty proud to have been able to make the new additions environmentally sustainable.”
Half of the energy required to run the new pools and slide will come from a heat transfer unit, using energy which is a byproduct of its electricity generator. The pools are designed to be water efficient with no holding tanks.
“We are also pioneering new construction techniques so the pools’ foundation will sit above ground and not damage tree roots below,” Mr Abbot says.
The five new pools will sit among river-boulder terraces and native gardens on what is a grassed area next to the Rainbow Pools.
The new 13.5 metre high water slide will attach to the complex’s existing hydroslide tower and sit next to the SuperBowl, the site of the complex’s AquaPlay area.
The slide will be named in a competition next year.
Riders will negotiate the new winding hydroslide in two-person tubes, before going down a steep drop that propels them up a near-vertical wall for a moment of weightlessness before continuing back down and on to the slide’s finish.
The pools will borrow money from the council for the project and pay it back at full commercial rates.
Mr Abbot says no extra land will be needed for the upgrade, but further down the track it would become “inevitable”.