Fly-Line offers users a more controlled descent than ziplining. Image: Fly-Line
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa has secured $3.1m from the Government in a unique ‘hybrid’ funding for the attraction’s development.
The operator announced on Friday that it had been granted $2.123m funding for a new Fly-Line experience with $2m coming from the Government’s $3bn infrastructure fund created in response to Covid-19, and $123,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund.
A further $977,000 from the PGF would go towards a day spa and further developments at the popular thermal attraction. All the money was going to the owner, Hurunui District Council.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot told the Ticker he was surprised that funding for the Fly-Line was approved from both the PGF and the infrastructure support.
“It’s a bit of a hybrid – I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else,” he said.
“We originally applied for it as part of a PGF application but when the Government was calling for ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure projects we put it through the Hurunui District Council, our owners, we thought ‘ok we’d have a go at that as well’.”
Projects from the private and public sector that were ‘shovel-ready’ could be eligible for infrastructure funding if they provided a public or regional benefit, created jobs and were able to get underway in short order.
“If you look at what the infrastructure support is about, it’s about creating jobs both short-term and long-term. So, it fitted the criteria obviously and they [the Government] have made it all come together,” Abbot said.
Building and operating the Fly-Line would create 25 new jobs and generate a projected $4m over the first five years of operation.
The funding could make it the first experience of its kind in New Zealand and negotiations were underway license holder 4Nature, owned by tourism entrepreneur Alex Schmid, who founded Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua. Plans to launch a Fly-Line near Taupō fell over earlier this year.
“This has been a dream of ours for some time and it’s great the government has decided it is a project worthy of their backing,” Abbot said.
“This will be a great asset for the Hanmer Springs village and help attract visitors to the entire Hurunui region.”
The ride would take customers on an 850m downhill ride through Conical Hill forest. Users would be strapped onto a suspended seat that glided down a stainless-steel track.
“We’ve seen how this operation has been received overseas and I am really looking forward to seeing how our community make it their own, in terms of the design and use.”
The ride would take nine minutes and was designed also to cater for children with a top speed about the same as a fast walking pace but about 3-5 metres above the ground.
Abbot said the experience was designed to have minimal impact on the environment.
“Being a gravity-powered experience and having no need for powered transport to the top of the ride, Fly-Line is near silent and the carbon footprint of the operation will be near zero, which aligns with our role as a kaitiaki of Hanmer Springs.”
The attraction was aiming for a spring 2021 launch of the Fly-Line.
The $977,000 from the PGF for the expansion of Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa involved investigating the construction of a luxury day spa on the site of the former Queen Mary Hospital and the provision of a new area of hot pools and a new hydro-slide.
Under-secretary for regional economic development Fletcher Tabuteau, who announced the funding at Hanmer on Friday, said the combined projects were predicted to create 51-55 new full- and part-time jobs.
“Over half a million people visit Hanmer Springs every year, so with the Fly-Line, and thermal pools and day spa, the anticipated increase in visitors to this already popular alpine village will make a huge difference to the local economy,” he said.
“While Covid-19 has had an impact on international tourist numbers, we want to support Hanmer Springs to continue to be a top family-friendly tourist drawcard for domestic visitors from both the North and South islands.”
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