Our Stories

Lagoon Adventure Park Planned for City's North

Northern Hamilton could be home to an inland beach resort and adventure park by 2023, if a development masterminded by the Brian Perry Charitable Trust comes to fruition.

The $30 million Te Awa Lakes Leisure and Recreation Park will be located at the southern end of the 1500-home Te Awa Lakes development which will begin construction this summer.

The project is being helmed by former Olympic cycling champion Sarah Ulmer, who has been heavily involved with the trust on the ongoing Te Awa Cycleway project.

Ulmer, along with trust chairman Simon Perry and general manager Jennifer Palmer presented the park vision to the Hamilton City Council’s long term plan hearings on Thursday – where they formally asked for a $10 million contribution.

In the draft long term plan, the council are proposing either spending $6m to cover the outdoor pool at Waterworld, or alternatively spending $26m on the construction of a new indoor pool.

A more cost-effective solution would be a partnership with Te Awa Lakes – “a game-changing concept for the city,” Perry told the council.

“As we all know Hamilton Gardens is a great tourism and community facility for the city. It’s an ongoing focus and I understand there are more gardens to come, but … we firmly believe we need something to the north that appeals to our teenagers and appeals to our youth.”

At the centre of the 12 hectare park will be the 2 hectare, 2.4 metre-deep “crystal lagoon” – the equivalent of about 20 Waterworlds.

Crystal Lagoons, an international firm that had installed such facilities in numerous countries, would construct the lagoon. It would be at least partially heated, meaning people would be able to make use of it throughout the winter months.

A dome could potentially be installed over at least part of the lagoon.

Discussions were under way with the nearby Fonterra plant to gain access to “some very hot water”, Perry said.

The lagoon and adventure park would cost $20 to $30 million and would, over the following four to five years, be added to with a range of amenities such as hotels and restaurants, beach clubs, giant slides, water sports, retail, amphitheatres, recreational activities, concerts, an outdoor cinema and a neighbouring spa resort.

The lagoon will be run commercially on a user-pays basis, with a 50 per cent discount for Hamilton City ratepayers.

Funding for associated infrastructure would also be sought from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, Perry said.

The lagoon will also be “programmable” and could host events, classes and learn-to-swim and water safety programmes.

Complementing the lagoon will be a wide range of free, community facilities including a free, water-themed destination playground, skate bowls, cycling tracks and climbing walls.

The cycling tracks could be connected to the Te Awa cycleway which snaked past the site.

Indoor facilities are also planned, including a specialist climbing facility and “ninja gym”.

It would be built in partnership with other community trusts – “with ourselves as the developer” – and Te Awa Lakes. If things went to plan, rezoning and resource consents would be secured by the end of this year, construction would begin in 2022, and it would open to the public in early 2023.

Ulmer said ideas for what could be included in the park had been workshopped with a focus group of 80 stakeholders during last year’s Covid-19 lockdown.

“Ranked highest were water activities … outdoor, open water where kids can learn to swim in a slightly more realistic environment.

“Funnily enough the next most popular feedback was ‘Where can we get a drink in this place?’ – so we are taking into consideration what hospitality we can provide as part of that recreational backdrop.”

Cr Dave Macpherson said he was thrilled by the concept, but was concerned about the potential for “acres of car parks”.

Perry said the corner of the site would be a car park which would ultimately become a 1000-space underground car park.

“You are looking at a car per two and a half visitors, so you are looking at accommodating 2500 visitors.

It was hoped most people would be able to get to the site by bus and bicycle.

Macpherson also asked about operational costs. These would be low, said Perry, with filtration and chlorination about 1 to 2 per cent of an equivalent amount of water at a traditional swimming pool.

Article extracted from Stuff.co.nz