Honouring Tradition With The Annual Summer Kick-Off At The Waterworks.
Every year for the past seven years the Cory-Wright family have taken a family excursion to The Waterworks. The tradition initially started to celebrate youngest daughter Stella’s birthday. Stella turned 14 this year and the decision to spend it at The Waterworks was a no-brainer.
Every year the Cory-Wright’s invite different friends and extended family members to go with them to The Waterworks. The family regularly host high school foreign exchange students and each year a new student gets to experience the annual tradition which gives them a true taste of how New Zealanders like to have fun and enjoy each others’ company in the great outdoors.
This year, the families’ visit coincided with the Annual Summer Kick-Off, which added a new dimension (and a timely discount!) to the trip. The party of nine departed from Tairua in two vehicles, for the hour long drive over the 309 Road to The Waterworks. Their cars were loaded up with a large chilly bin full of food, togs and towels, friends and family and the customary picnic blanket.
Stella’s mother Maria set up the picnic blanket in the park beside the Waiau River and remained on the mat while the rest off the group raced off to play all over the park. Maria said it was the perfect vantage point to get an overview of all the activity during the day. “All day I heard laughing from adults and children in so many different languages,” she said. “I would watch parents arriving with their children, at first holding their hands protectively and keeping a close eye, following them around everywhere. But after a while that stopped. The children were so enthusiastic, racing from one activity to the next and the parents soon relaxed and let them go for it.”
Maria concurs that is exactly the thing that makes The Waterworks such a great place for families. It offers a quintessential kiwi experience, where people have the freedom and space to explore and go where their curiosity takes them. Stella and her sister and friends went straight for the flying fox and water-powered cannons. With seven years experience, they knew exactly how to extract the most fun – and water – from the park.
Being the Annual Summer Kick-off, the park was abuzz with people and activity, but the Cory-Wrights’ said because it is such a spacious place it never felt overly crowded. “When we first arrived and saw all the people at the entrance, we wondered what it would be like,” explained Maria. “But everything went smoothly. We arrived at 11am and got our tickets without even having to wait in a queue. The staff were really friendly and people were happy.” The Annual Summer Kick-Off is a tradition The Waterworks’ initiated some years ago.
As with many activities and attractions on The Coromandel, the park caters to all visitors; whether they be international tourists traveling the length of New Zealand, or families who own holiday baches on The Coromandel. The Waterworks’ decided they wanted to make it easier for families who live permanently on the Coromandel to take the opportunity to visit the park. By celebrating the start of summer with a $5 entry fee, The Annual Summer Kick-Off is a way to make the park accessible to as many people as possible, especially those on a budget. Though the weather was overcast and the waterhole still pretty chilly, the community day was very well attended by groups traveling locally and regionally to take advantage of a special Sunday out and a massive discount.
From Maria’s mat she witnessed groups claiming their own picnic sites; under a big tree, on the banks of the Wairau River and gathered beside the barbecues with the smell of barbecued meat wafting through the park, enticing children back from their play spots for lunch. Maria was surprised to notice even dogs were welcomed into the park and she said that was neat to see too. By all accounts, everyone kept to the request that dogs are kept on leashes. They were safely contained and seemed to enjoy the watery park as much as the people. With the water-powered clock keeping accurate time while people played with over 70 water-powered inventions all around the park, the day rushed past in the blink of an eye. For the Cory-Wrights, the highlight was the spontaneous water balloon war which erupted after lunch. All nine people in their party were soon saturated and Maria said it was hilarious to watch.