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Launch pad opens at Lake Hood

Launch pad opens at Lake Hood
Ashburton's deputy Mayor Liz McMillan takes the plunge off the new jumping platform at Lake Hood. SUPPLIED

Ashburton’s deputy mayor was first down the new flying fox and now Liz McMillan has been the first to use the new jumping platform at Lake Hood.

McMillan and some eager volunteers were the first to launch off the purpose-built tower at an officially opening event on Friday morning.

Despite the autumnal weather, the water wasn’t too cold, McMillan said.

“But I think it will be very popular in the summer months.”

With the community always asking for more activities for youth, the diving platform provides another option at Lake Hood.

“I think it will be pretty popular with kids and teenagers and even the young adults, and probably the young-at-heart adults too."

The platform is a use-at-your-own-risk facility.

Infrastructure and open spaces group manager Neil McCann said jumpers need to be confident swimmers to access the platform, then climb a ladder to either a 2.5m or 4m high jumping-off point and swim out.

“The jumping platform is in a 4m deep body of water, with no lifeguard supervision.

“There is a lower gradient entrance and exit beach and emergency climb-out ropes on the steeper gradient sides.

Sammy Wood launches off the platform into the purpose-built 4m deep dive pond next to Lake Hood. PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

“The main safety rule is that jumpers need to ensure the water below is clear of others before they leap off.

“If everyone sticks to the rules, there shouldn’t be problems.”

The platform is in a separate body of spring-fed water at the northern end of the new lake extension – so is not under the same algal bloom warning as the main lake.

The platform and surrounding water would eventually be incorporated into the new lake as it expanded.

“But right now it is separate and water quality testing in the jumping platform’s pond shows no cyanobacteria is currently present.”

The platform was built to attract people who were currently jumping off Lake Hood canal bridges.

“Jumping off those bridges is a safety concern for council as boats and other watercraft could be in the area, so we’ve provided a purpose-built alternative which will generate a lot of fun and be another attraction for the lake.”

The area around the platform is being developed so people can sit and have a picnic while they watch the action or supervise youngsters.

The platform was constructed by the council, in conjunction with Ashburton Contracting Limited, using $35,000 from the Government's Better Off Funding.

By Jonathan Leask