Kayaking enthusiasts Pete Simpson (front), of Lake Hawea, and Gordon Bailey, of Wanaka, test the new kayak park in the Hawea River yesterday. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
A new whitewater kayak park on the Hawea River is the
''world's best'' and is already being eyed up by the
International Canoe Federation (ICF) for major events, its
American designer says.
Scott Shipley, who has designed more than 20 whitewater
courses around the world, including the London Olympic
kayaking course, is thrilled with the outcome of his latest
Mr Shipley and other local whitewater enthusiasts were
undeterred by yesterday's cold, drizzly weather as they
whooped with delight on the newly-formed rapids during a test
run of the park, just above the Camphill Rd bridge.
The park features two rock weirs cemented into the river,
which create play waves for kayakers and rafters of all
''It's the world's best play park, I'm sure of that,'' a
shivering Mr Shipley said after a lengthy stint in the river
putting the park through its paces.
''It's just a world-class feature. It's got the ability for
people who are just learning as well as those very best
people in the world to do what they want.
''This is a feature you could hold the world championships on
tomorrow. You don't get waves like this often. It's really
Mr Shipley said the park was starting to make waves
internationally, too, in terms of its event potential.
''The ICF has already been watching it.''
Central Otago Whitewater Inc (Cow) committee member Roy
Bailey, who has been involved with the project since it was
first floated 11 years ago, said it was ''almost surreal'' to
see it finally come to fruition.
''All the way along, you focus on the process, and now to
have it on the Hawea River is awesome,'' Mr Bailey said.
''I think it's probably exceeded everyone's expectations.''
The park is paid for by Contact Energy, which controls the
level of the river with its structure at the outlet of Lake
Hawea. Contact agreed to Cow's request to build the course
when it was renewing consents for its Clyde and Roxburgh
dams. Contact engineer Denis McEntyre said the integrity and
any erosion levels of the structures in the river were tested
yesterday, and would be tested over the next few days at
river flows up to 200cumecs.
A celebration for those responsible for creating the park
will be held next Tuesday, and an official public opening is
planned for early next year.
The park will host its first event, the New Zealand Freestyle
Nationals, on March 9 and 10.