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Is Porirua’s Adventure Park ready for the next step?

Porirua’s Adventure Park has received consent from the Department of Conservation to go ahead. Will it be a money turner? Or a money burner?

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Porirua’s new Mayor Anita Baker can’t talk up the proposed Adventure Park enough, having just received consent from the Department of Conservation to proceed with the venture.

“The Park will open access to so many more Porirua people to enjoy more of our city’s lovely green spaces,” She says. “It includes a gondola that will carry visitors up Rangituhi where they can mountain bike or walk down or simply sit and enjoy the fabulous views at the restaurant on the hill.”

There will be a zip line course and New Zealand’s first indoor surf simulator will also be on offer for those who want to pay for the experience. The zip line would be the longest in the Southern Hemisphere, according to Select Contracts NZ, who had applied for the resource consent last year.

It all sounds exactly like what Porirua needs to drive tourism and increase employment in the region. However, some dissenters are comparing Porirua’s Adventure Park to the town of Springfield’s impulse purchase of a faulty monorail from conman, Lyle Lanley in the Simpsons. As ridiculous as the premise is, the satire exists as a warning to towns everywhere to be wary of get rich quick schemes, and not doing due diligence.

Not that we are suggesting this is the case in Porirua. However, ratepayers can’t afford to fund follies, especially not in Porirua which already has some of the highest rates in the country.

If we look at Christchurch Adventure Park, which was the model for Porirua, we are told that Porirua can expect to enjoy a similar success. However, the Christchurch Park came within days of bankruptcy and was bailed out by the council, who chipped in $2 million to keep it afloat. Critics say there simply weren’t enough people willing to pay the fees to play.

It’s important to note that the Christchurch park had to deal with a few bad hands – including the Port Hills Fires which caused the park to close for nine months and drove up maintenance costs on its tracks and surrounding areas. Early trading in 2019 showed a 30 per cent increase in park revenue versus the previous year and a 66 per cent jump in people using the park.

So are supporter’s hopes overcooked, or will the park prove a cash cow? We hope the park is a raging success, and with facilities like a gondola; a zip line; and a standing surf wave – we will be among those first in line to check it out.

Hopefully the monorail stays on the tracks.