Water sports park proves popular before opening

North Otago's latest attraction is already proving popular before its official opening on March 1.

A water sports park has been developed on a 4ha irrigation pond, up to 2.7m deep, built two years ago to improve the efficiency of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company's scheme.

Some people on the Waitaki Plains and the company saw potential to develop the pond for sailing, kayaking and other non-powered water sports, and formed the Lower Waitaki Water Sports Trust to raise funds to pay for it.

The trust has now built a storage shed, basic ablution facilities, a jetty and bought 10 yachts and 15 kayaks, all with appropriate safety equipment such as life jackets, at a cost of about $35,000.

Trust chairman Richard Willans said the development was expected to cost about $120,000, but had exceeded that by about $10,000.

The trust was now looking at ways to fund that, and buy additional equipment such as paddle boards.

It also planned to start promoting use of the park from an official launch on March 1, between 10am and 4pm, when people could try out the yachts and kayaks, with a barbecue, refreshments and an opportunity to buy keys to use the facilities, secretary Jessica Wright said.

Already, without promotion, about 30 families had bought keys and the park last Sunday was busy with boats and kayaks.

The trust would also be actively promoting the park to schools in the North Otago area. The aim is to make it self-funding by selling keys (annual subscriptions) to individuals, families, schools and other groups. Less regular users can hire the facilities.

The aim of the project is to give the community a focal point for water sports and recreation. In close proximity to Oamaru, it caters for all ages and skills, and is also a resource for schools, promoting health, fitness and water safety through building personal and team confidence.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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