Feedback on water park no-stopping zone sought

Popular attraction or roadside distraction?

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback on a proposed no-stopping zone on State Highway 6 near Lowburn to "manage the impacts of Kiwi Water Park".

Waka Kotahi Otago Southland senior safety engineer Chris Harris said the move to create a 1300m no-stopping area was in response to safety concerns for people entering and leaving the park off the highway since it started operating in the summer of 2020-21.

The transport authority had managed temporary traffic management signage around the site of the water park’s first summer of operation, installed fencing and at the end of 2022 installed a right-hand turn bay into the parking area.

Consultation on the no-stopping area and receiving feedback through submissions was the latest response to keep people safe, Mr Harris said.

"The business has created a roadside attraction which can create a distraction for motorists", he said.

"There have been crashes relating to the Kiwi Water Park and given this is a 100kmh highway, caution and an absence of distractions is to be encouraged."

There had been four crashes since the summer of 2020 with three associated with the water park and camping area.

One crash resulted in serious injury, while the remainder were non-injury, Mr Harris said.

There had been no crashes this season, he said.

Safe off-road parking is provided for Kiwi Water Park visitors, Lake Dunstan recreational users and freedom campers on Linz land at the Lowburn recreational area.

Water park users are instructed to enter via the Lowburn recreation area, park in the parking area and walk 350m to the park.

Kiwi Water Park owner Emily Rutherford said the proposal made sense, because the park was next to a 100kmh area.

However, she stressed the area was also used by boaties and freedom campers, as well as water park users.

"From what I can see [the freedom camping area] has been busier than ever before ... it’s now one of the busiest freedom camping areas in New Zealand and it’s a very popular boating area", she said.

By the time the business closes for the season tomorrow, close to 25,000 people will have visited the park, down a bit from the previous two seasons due to weather, she said.

Linz confirmed it had been a busy season at the Lowburn recreation area with about 16,000 vehicles passing through the area between late October and early January — a "significant increase" from 12,000 vehicles the previous season.

Submissions close April 5.