Kaikōura hot pools plan put on ice

The hot pools and spa concept on the Kaikoura waterfront could create 35 jobs. PHOTO: DAVID HILL
The hot pools and spa concept on the Kaikoura waterfront could create 35 jobs. PHOTO: DAVID HILL
A bureaucratic bungle has poured cold water on the proposed Kaikōura waterfront hot pools project.

Kaikōura District Council entered into a lease agreement with Kaikōura Springs Ltd in 2022 on the former Kaikoura Lions Community Pool site on the Esplanade, allowing the Christchurch-based company to develop the hot pools and wellness centre concept.

At the time, the council believed it was Crown-owned land, and it was acting with the approval of the Department of Conservation.

During public consultation in February it became clear the land had been vested in the council some years ago, rendering the process to date ‘‘null and void’’, chief executive Will Doughty says.

‘‘We sort our own legal advice and we have made the decision to stop the process and regroup.

‘‘We have informed Kaikōura Springs Ltd and we will continue to work with them and hopefully we can achieve a good outcome.

‘‘It is clear there is strong support for a hot pools in Kaikōura.’’

Doughty said as the site was reserve land, legislation required the council to develop a reserve management plan before proceeding, which will be subject to public consultation.

Kaikōura Springs directors Tony Joseph and Anton Wilkes say the news is ‘‘frustrating’’.

‘‘We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with the outcome after 3.5 years of work and a significant financial investment.’’

They say the hot pools and wellness project was expected to create 35 jobs and provide employment during the winter months.

The company’s initial feasibility study indicates there would be ‘‘significant visitor volume’’ to the pools and wellness centre.

‘‘We still believe in the Kaikōura Springs project, however, its planning hinges on an easily accessible location close to or within the village, and with the iconic Kaikoura mountain and ocean views,’’ the directors said.

The council’s recent consultation found overwhelming support for developing a hot pools and wellness centre in the town, although there were a small number of submissions opposed to the site.

A reserve management plan will determine what activities can be carried out on the site.

The site was previously home to the Kaikōura Lions Community Pool, which was severely damaged in the November 2016 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

It was subsequently replaced by the Kaikōura Aquatic Centre, which opened in 2021 on Scarborough Hill.

By David Hill
Local Democracy Reporter

-LDR is local body journalism cofunded by RNZ and NZ On Air.