Mayor races deputy in flying fox battle

Liz McMillan won by a nose in a flying fox battle.

The deputy mayor pipped Ashburton mayor Neil Brown in a race to officially open the new flying foxes in the Ashburton Domain on Thursday - although a video review was needed to confirm her victory.

While the review was underway, the pair had another race down the twin 50-metre zip lines, with Brown taking a comfortable victory.

His victory speech was not about his accomplishments, but the project.

Bruce, 7, and Badger Bayliss, 5, were the first members of the public to ride the new flying...
Bruce, 7, and Badger Bayliss, 5, were the first members of the public to ride the new flying foxes. PHOTO: JONATHAN LEASK/LDR
“This is a great asset that everyone in this town can enjoy, young or old.

“It’s an exhilarating ride.

“It has taken a while but it's brilliant to have it up and running, and I think the domain playground is set for a busy weekend and summer.”

There was a mixture of relief and excitement visible in infrastructure and open spaces general manager Neil McCann and his staff, as the beleaguered $108,374 project finally opened.

The old flying fox was removed in 2020 and the replacement had been scheduled to be installed by the end of last summer.

A contractor shortage caused the initial delays at the start of the year, before wet weather arrived in July.

Then it was discovered the contractor had “miscalculated the distance between gantries”, requiring some remediation before it could finally open.

That opening didn’t feature a speech or ribbon cutting, just a good old-fashioned race – the result of Brown accepting the challenge issued by his deputy last summer.

With the racing tied 1-1, the pair will have a chance to break the deadlock at the opening of the new disc golf course in the Tinwald Domain on Sunday.

By Jonathan Leask
Local Democracy Reporter

■ Public interest journalism funded through New Zealand on Air.