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Smiles assured at Ruakaka wake park

DENISE PIPER
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013
Denise Piper
MATTHEW SPRAGG
FRESH FUN: Whangarei Leader reporter Denise Piper tests out the Ruakaka Lakeside Cable Wake Park.

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Whangarei Leader

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A fresh business idea is starting to make waves in the adventure tourism industry.

The Ruakaka Lakeside Cable Wake Park has been open for about a year and business is steadily growing, with the Christmas holiday period being quite steady, owner-operator Matthew Spragg says.

Cable wakeboarding is similar to wakeboarding but riders are pulled by an electronically driven cable, rather than a boat.

The sport is big overseas with more than 100 cable wake parks in Europe and a world championship series.

Northland's two-tower version uses a freshwater lake created by sand mining at Ruakaka's Lakeside Business Park.

The system was built by kiteboarding expert Dave Kay but was largely kept secret until Mr Spragg bought Mr Kay's kiteboarding business.

The cable wake park came with the business and Mr Spragg saw the potential to open it up to the public.

Mr Spragg says he replaced a number of the parts and has put safety measures in place, requiring all riders to wear helmets and life jackets.

But the sport is plenty of fun, easy and very family-friendly, he says. As well as boards, there are options for young riders to use a sea biscuit or just do bare body dragging.

"The smile factor is guaranteed. Our customers pretty much all come back again," he says.

"In five to 10 minutes you're going to be riding and having a good time," he says. "It's fresh water and it's warm."

He even has a high quality camera to capture people as they are up and riding, with the photos getting great interest on Facebook.

Landlord John Keith is helping to create a park-like atmosphere around the lake with plantings and cabins being installed.

Mr Spragg says entry to the park is free, so family and friends are invited to come and watch.

"It's somewhere that people can come to for birthday parties and Christmas work parties," he says.

The system is also good for expert kiteboarders and wakeboarders wanting to practise or take their tricks to the next level.

It has even been used by wakeboarding professionals, such as Auckland and United States-based world ranked wakeboarder Brad Smeele.

Go to cablewake.co.nz or call 432 8347 for details.

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- Whangarei Leader

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