Central Otago’s only water park has doubled in size for this summer a popular swimming spot has raised eyebrows in Cromwell.
Kiwi Water Park opened on Lake Dunstan at Lowburn last year and proved a smash hit.
This year the favourite inflatables have returned along with new additions, including two bespoke creations – a gigantic sheep, “Rodney the Ram”, and a giant tower with a ski jump slide – as well as giant seesaws or “teeter totters”, a hamster wheel, new obstacles for the obstacle course and a UFO.
Youngsters who missed out on being thrown into the air from the “blob” get their own chance to fly high on a smaller 3m “blob” designed for under-12s.
Water park co-owner Emily Rutherford said the new features doubled the size of the water park’s offering.
“We’ve also got some small features for little ones and a few obstacles to add to the obstacle course.”
The biggest addition was the inclusion of a Splash Park for those under 6.
“Every day we’d get multiple people come up to us and say wish you had something for the under-6s’,” she said.
The Splash Park was a 15mx8m sealed-air bouncy castle with obstacles and slides. It was on the beach next to the water park.
A fountain would provide water for children to splash around in, she said.
“It’s enough to let them have a wee splash around – it’s not for swimming.”
The Splash Park used the same sealed-air technology as the water park, making it more environmentally friendly, Miss Rutherford said.
While the water park was increasing in size, continuous damage sustained throughout its first season prompted a move 350m down the lake.
It was unsustainable to remain in the original location, Miss Rutherford said.
“It was becoming a bit of a nightmare, to be honest. Every time you had a wind come down the lake from the north [there was damage].
“It was a once-a-week thing that happened and became really unsustainable in terms of running a business where you’re constantly getting damage done, you’re constantly having to get professional divers in and fix things constantly.”
The new site further south was more sheltered but an existing pontoon and swimming area frequented by young families had to be moved further south down the lakeshore.
The move was approved by the Central Otago District Council in a variation to the water park’s original resource consent granted last year.
An extension to the water park’s operating hours was also approved.
The consent variation requires an entrance off SH6 to be fenced off and water park users to park at the Lowburn boat ramp, meaning they must the final 300m to the site.
Lake users would still be able to drive along the lake and access the peninsula next to the water park, but the area surrounding the water park would be fenced off.
Miss Rutherford said fencing around the site was to meet Covid-19 regulations.
“Under Level 2 you have to have an entrance and an exit and have everyone scan in, and then under the traffic light system we may have to require vaccine passports but we don’t know yet.”
Members of the public have expressed concern about the park’s move and the apparent lack of public consultation.
The change was not publicly notified; however, key parties such as Land Information New Zealand, the Otago Regional Council and the Lake Dunstan Charitable Trust were consulted.
The News approached the district council regarding the decision not to publicly notify the change and acting planning manager Oli McIntosh pointed to the council’s notification decision report.
According to the Resource Management Act, the terms of the consent and all applicable conditions did not require public notification, but the consent was publicly available, he said.
Lake Dunstan Charitable Trust chairman Duncan Faulkner said it was disappointing the community was not consulted on the change in location.
“The new location of the water park has taken away free public access to a highly used, sheltered bay,” he said.
Miss Rutherford said the change of location affected only a small number of people.
“When you look at the drone footage [of the water park] we take up an absolute minuscule bit of the lake and from what I saw last summer a lot more people jumped off [the wharf where the public toilets are],” she said.
“I drove back and forth here multiple times to the site every day and I saw way more kids jumping off there than I ever saw on that pontoon.”
The new location had little impact as it was not in direct view of houses and took up only 150sqm of space on the lake, she said.
“We’re tiny – it’s not going to affect much as far as I can see, and no matter where we went somebody would’ve had a problem with it.
“Last year we had to cancel the whole year 7 and year 8 at Cromwell College because we had such severe wind damage, so that annoys a lot more people than a couple of people annoyed that we are moving to this exact spot.”