A handful of hardy souls braved heavy rain on Monday to be the first to experience the spruced-up Splash Planet amusement park in Hastings.
Hastings District Council voted in May to spend $2.4 million on the old and tired park, with some attractions in desperate need of repair.
Covid-related closures, staffing problems and damage from Cyclone Gabrielle had plagued it in the last few years, said council aquatics, sports and recreation manager Tom Page.
“The wet weather, the cyclone… and just a combination of the park getting to 25 years on from the original build of Splash Planet.
“You’ve just got a lot of work that needs to be done, renewals, and all this sort of stuff.
“Hopefully it’s just the start of a journey of the next 10 to 20 years of improvement at the park.”
The changes included a fresh lick of paint all over, landscaping, relocating some attractions, new electric motors for the bumper boats, a redesign of the pirate pool playground, and fixing up the iconic pumpkin and shoe – although they were now ornamental rather than play features.
But much of the cash was spent behind the scenes giving everything a good tune-up before it opened for the season on Monday – ensuring all the old favourite attractions were back on offer, Page said.
“You won’t see a direct $2.4 million in front of you when you walk through the door, but everything working is probably a good sign of, you know, that’s money well spent.”
There were a few false starts on day one — some of the Jungle Jeeps struggled to get going. And the pouring rain kept the masses away.
“It definitely will mean that there’s probably a few less people through the gate which is disappointing, because obviously we want to start with a bang, and get people in and show them what’s different, and you know, obviously see the smiles on people’s faces,” Page said.
But having the park back open was a win for tourists and locals alike, he said.
“Up and down the country, if you talk about Hastings and what it’s known for, Splash Planet is one of those things. We’re really proud of it, and we obviously want to keep it going, and we want people to come here and experience it, and enjoy it with us.”
Among the smiling faces on opening day were the Burling family, who had travelled down from Auckland with Splash Planet on the holiday to-do list.
“We’ve actually had this booked for quite a while,” Matthew Burling said. “We’ve got three kids between us, they just love swimming parks, and we heard about this online so we thought we’d come check it out.”
The hydroslides and the Fantasyland Express train were top of the list for the day, the kids said.
By Lauren Crimp of rnz.co.nz