A possible site for the water sports facility on the Wanaka waterfront, including a computer-generated model of the proposed building. Image supplied.
The shores of Lake Wanaka are regularly in the limelight,
as one of those places sure to have tourists reaching for
their cameras. But, as Mark Price reports, the lakeshore is
under more scrutiny than usual, as debate builds over what
should or should not be added to the view.
Dunedin has its waterfront hotel proposal, Queenstown its
convention centre proposal and now Wanaka also has a building
A group of regular lake users wants to put up a ''multi-use''
building on the edge of Lake Wanaka's Roys Bay, near Stoney
Creek, about 1km southwest of central Wanaka.
It would be one of the lakeshore's few buildings.
A group representing lake users - the Wanaka Watersports
Facility Trust, chaired by Michael Sidey - has been
campaigning for months in support of the building proposal.
A measure of their success has been the number of people who
have made submissions to the Queenstown Lakes District
Council's draft management plan for the shore reserve.
The draft plan went out for public consultation in April.
It contained a new policy that would allow building on the
reserve - subject to the plan's main objectives and subject
to normal resource consent processes.
By the end of the consultation period on June 6, 377
submissions had been received.
While the management plan covers 14 reserves, about
three-quarters of the submissions focused almost exclusively
on the one small corner of Roys Bay where the building is
By the Otago Daily Times' count, 255 submissions
backed the new policy that would potentially allow a
Forty-six were opposed.
The trust represents rowers, swimmers, multisport athletes,
stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers and other ''non-motorised''
watersports, and the building would house rowing skiffs and
kayaks and provide changing facilities, showers and gym
The trust submitted the Roys Bay site ''has all the
conditions needed by swimmers, rowers and kayakers: access to
the swim buoys; access to a safe area of the lake; and access
to a long reach of flat water in which to practise and
Other sites around the lake had been investigated and ruled
Many of the submissions opposing the building objected to the
Wayne Blair, of Wanaka, described the idea of building on the
reserve as a ''travesty''.
''This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and any
construction along the front would severely detract from the
unspoiled view that we all enjoy.''
Jan and Laura Solbak, of Lake Hawea, agreed.
''More buildings on the reserve will have a major visual
impact on the picture postcard lake and mountain vistas.
''Roys Bay Reserve's appeal is that there are very few
''Let's keep it that way.''
Loris King, of Wanaka, believed a building would ''destroy
forever the tranquillity and ambience'' of the area, Jane and
Andrew McFarlane, of Waimate, believed the building would be
a ''visual blight on the landscape'' and R.P. Sinclair
described the building as ''nothing more than a glorified
Warwick Thompson, of Wanaka, took the view the lakeshore
reserves were unique in being ''unbuilt public open space,
permitting free, unfettered, uncluttered and unobstructed
access'' to the lake.
''Other similar lakefront areas of towns such as Queenstown,
Rotorua, Taupo, Hamilton, Takapuna have largely lost free
unfettered and unobstructed public access.''
Alan and Barbara Collie, of Auckland, were concerned about
dust, noise, social activity, loss of trees and extra car
parking the building would generate.
Roger and Elaine Scholes, of Wanaka, were others who believed
there should be no allowance for building on the reserve.
''This will open the floodgates to all forms of commercial
development which the council will not be able to prevent.
''Wanaka must preserve the unique experience that residents
and visitors from all over the world enjoy.
''Queenstown provides the experience for all tastes and has
now overdeveloped. Wanaka does not need to follow that
The building idea arose from the need by the Wanaka Rowing
Club for club rooms.
The club's submission pointed out members had won four
national titles, ''rowing is growing'' and the club's present
premises, 300m from the lake at the A&P Society woolshed,
''Rowers as young as 14 must carry heavy, expensive equipment
across Mt Aspiring Rd, often in the dark.
''The long walk causes injury, discourages potential members,
consumes valuable training time, and damages equipment.''
The club had looked at 10 potential sites for a new boat
''No location on the Wanaka lakefront is more suitable.''
Georgina Galloway, of Invercargill, who helped start the
rowing club, believed a new building would avoid the need to
cross the road.
''I think it will be a great benefit to the community for
years to come.''
And Catherine Sidey, of Wanaka, also submitted the proposed
site for the building would improve safety.
''I have watched young sports people risk their lives on the
lakefront road as they negotiate the traffic while carrying
their rowing skiffs ... in the difficult light of early
morning and evening.
''The traffic and dangers will only increase as the
population of Wanaka grows.
''Any facility for users of the lake needs to be close to the
Ronnie and Rob Norman, of Wanaka, suggested the traffic
problem could be overcome with a ''zebra crossing'' which was
a ''lot less expensive or intrusive''.
And Jethro Robinson, of Wanaka, opposed the building because
of the number of families and children that swam in the area.
''The rowing club operates powerboats and race craft through
this [swim] lane and will only increase its presence with a
facility situated here.
''Increased rowing boats, watersports craft, powerboats etc
are inconsistent with a safe swimming lane.''
Eachann Bruce, of Wanaka, said the club was in ''desperate
need'' of the facility after six years of failed attempts to
He believed a new facility would help get ''the younger
generation off the street and involved in a sport that will
teach them values that will help shape the community''.
And chef de mission at the Olympic Winter Games Pete Wardell
said the young people of Wanaka ''deserve such a facility''
so they could enjoy and learn watersports skills.
''It will be a great asset for Wanaka.''
The submissions will be heard by a panel consisting of Wanaka
Community Board chairwoman Rachel Brown, board member Bryan
Lloyd and district councillor Calum MacLeod next month, and
it could have a recommendation for the board's August
A final decision on the management plan rests with the