Civic climbing wall?

04:10, Jul 25 2013
Nelson resident Shaun Connolly
Nelson resident Shaun Connolly thinks the Nelson City Council should turn the Nelson clocktower into a tourist attraction.

Nelson resident Shaun Connolly, who can see Civic House from his Bridge St flat, thinks the Nelson City Council should turn the clocktower into a marketable tourist attraction, rather than just something pretty to look at.

Debate about the clocktower’s aesthetic has heated up since Nelson resident Richard King suggested that a mural might reinvigorate the facade of the tower, widely considered Nelson’s ugliest edifice. 

Mr Connolly believed a better investment would be to open the tower for tourists to climb, for an unrivalled view of central Nelson.

He also suggested that the exterior of the tower could be turned into an abseiling and rock-climbing wall, for the hordes of adventure tourists who are attracted to the top-of-the-south each year.

‘‘Are we going to use this clocktower as something to look at, or something to have and use – do you want to just look at it, or do something with it?,’’ Mr Connolly asked.

‘‘Nelson is a tourist town. It’s marketed to the world as an adventure town.’’


He said it made sense to have an adventure-based tourist activity in the heart of the city.

‘‘Auckland has the Skytower, with its SkyJump. I’m not saying they are the same – but why not something similar here – a tourist attraction?

‘‘If that doesn’t work they can stop it or change it, but if the mural starts looking bad they can’t change it. It’s like changing your mind after getting a tattoo – it’s too late.’’

Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio said he was interested in the idea of a viewing platform, and agreed there was potential to turn the tower into an abseiling wall, subject to safety and access assessments.

Council communications spokeswoman Ali Hamblin said the clocktower contained stairs and two lifts, and the clock itself was locked in a tiny room at the top.

‘‘As the building owner, council would require any operation to have the necessary consents for that activity,’’ she said.

Mr Miccio said he was happy to discuss the idea with anyone who had a viable business plan for the operation.

Councillor Mike Ward, who is recovering from a broken leg, said he was part of a group that abseiled off the tower in the nineties.

‘‘The idea of inserting windows and a viewing platform has some merit,’’ he said.

Mr Connolly said his proposal was ‘‘just a cool idea’’, not something he had a vested interest in.

‘‘If I could wake up every morning and watch people abseil that tower I’d be the most stoked guy in Nelson.

‘‘It could just be something you walk up and down to look at the views. Charge people and you are making money for the community too, it’s a win.

‘‘It’s better than paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a weathered-looking statue by someone who is not even from Nelson [referring to Spanish artist Juanjo Novella’s fan of coral in Miyazu Gardens].’’

The council is considering spending $77,000 over two years on the riverside murals project, which could be stretched to include a design for the clocktower.

Mr Connolly suggested that money could be better spent building skate parks or other amenities that would solve bigger inner-city problems than ugly buildings, by giving young people more options about what to do and where to hang out around town.

‘‘We don’t need more expensive artworks, we need more activities,’’ he said.