Hawke's Bay's Splash Planet to be closed over summer due to COVID-19

Hawke's Bay's water-theme park Splash Planet is the latest victim of COVID-19.

The tourist attraction will be closed over summer for the first time since it was built thanks to the pandemic, costing the region millions.

Splash Planet's slides were empty for winter and they're staying that way for summer. It's not what parents and their kids want to hear.

"Sad because I love Splash Planet," one child said. 

"We're really disappointed Splash Planet's closed but we understand why," said a parent. 

"It's really sad. We do go quite a lot," said another kid. 

The Hastings District Council believes Delta's risk is too great.

"Really difficult decision for the council but it basically came down to two considerations: public health risks and financial risks for the ratepayer," said chief executive Nigel Bickle.  

About 140,000 people came through the gate last summer, with 40 percent children under the age of 12, who can't yet get vaccinated. 

"If that ended up being a super-spreading facility that affected a whole lot of children, that was predominant reason councillors thought we just can't," said Bickle.

The decision will hit the region's economy hard.

"It affects everybody. It's not just Splash Planet, it's accommodation, hospitality, wineries," said Karla Lee from the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce. 

Bickle said it brings "over $10 million of economic benefit to Hawke's Bay".

More certainty is wanted from the Government around whether or not vaccine mandates will apply to facilities like this.

"I can guarantee in a years time when Splash Planet is open it will be bigger and better than it's ever been," said Bickle. 

In the meantime, kids will have to be a bit more creative.

"Maybe play with a hose," a child said.