Publish date: 05/06/2020

An Olympic-level Aquasports park is one step closer to calling Kaiapoi home after the concept gained support from Waimakariri District Council (WDC), who will provide a short term lease on former red zone land so the project can continue to progress.

The WHoW Charitable Trust plans to co-locate surf wave, whitewater and cable wakeboard facilities together in an Aquasports Park alongside the Kaiapoi River on former red zoned land which was transferred from the Crown to WDC in 2018. The concept’s pre-feasibility study has shown the plan has the potential to be commercially viable and WDC has today agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Trust to enable the progression of the proposal.

The MoU gives a two-year lease of land to the Trust so they can continue to progress their plans from the pre-feasibility study stage and further the process to the point where a large number of conditions set out in the MoU could be fulfilled in order for a long term lease of the land for the project could be entered into. Conditions include full feasibility, secured investment and all necessary consents and approvals. WDC will hold no equity in the project.

Waimakariri District Mayor Dan Gordon says the concept is an exciting opportunity and, if successful, would be of considerable benefit to the District, region and country.

“While still subject to full feasibility testing, the potential is for this project to make a really positive contribution in coming years to making the Canterbury region an adventure sports hot spot as well as aiding the economic recovery from COVID19.

“Because of this the Council supported entering an agreement with the Trust to give them confidence to continue to develop their proposal.”

WHoW Trust Chairperson, Tony Joseph says “We’re really excited about this project. This park could transform the Aquasports scene in New Zealand by creating perfect conditions year-round for surfers, kayakers and wakeboarders to become the best of the best. At the same time there is space and scope for participation at all levels of several aqua sports that are growing rapidly but hindered in reaching their potential through lack of facilities.”

Enterprise North Canterbury (ENC) Chief Executive Heather Warwick says the project has the potential to be a huge boon for the local economy.

"Having been pivotal in bringing this project to Waimakariri, ENC is thrilled to see it progress closer to a reality with the support of WDC. The aquasports park will create jobs, bring visitors to our district and host major events, which will all contribute significantly to the North Canterbury economy.”

The project has also been supported by the local community. Last year the Trust shared early concepts with the community before launching a Give A Little campaign looking for local support to help them undertake a pre-feasibility study.

“The feedback we got from both the Kaiapoi and Canterbury community was outstanding,” says Tony. “People opened their pockets and helped us find over $100,000 to get to this point – there’s a real excitement about this project and how it could be a catalyst in Canterbury becoming an all-round adventure destination.”