Methven to build hot pools complex

Cantabrians have been going to Hanmer Springs' pools to relax for more than 100 years, but now Methven is looking to develop its own tourist hotspot.

Methven's pools are not intended to copy Hanmer's, but they have the potential to dip into the up to 530,000 visitors who go to the springs each year.

Will the shorter drive from Christchurch to Methven and the mid-Canterbury scenery be a bigger draw than Hanmer's alpine outlook and bike tracks?

Hanmer Springs general manager Graeme Abbot said he did not think Methven's hot pools would have a "detrimental impact" on its business.

"Methven is a little bit closer to home, so you would expect that there would be some [Christchurch] people that would go to Methven as opposed to Hanmer Springs but I wouldn't think it would have a large effect on our business."

Abbot said that having more hot pools in the South Island was a "good concept" for tourism. During the past 10 years both Tekapo and Franz Josef had built their own hot pools that "haven't hurt our business at all".

Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said having hot pools in Methven would help boost the tourism market in Canterbury.

"It's all part of building the tourism infrastructure in Canterbury and the more we grow, the more we attract people and the more there is to share around - that's what it is all about"

Methven Hot Pools Holdings Ltd, representing Methven residents David Dynes, Gary and Lyn Eddington, the Lochhead Trust and Grow Mid-Canterbury chief executive Rob Brawley, has researched the project during the past few years and now needs to raise $200,000 to fund a prospectus.

Dynes said the idea behind the pools was to "grow Methven as a tourist destination".

With about 100,000 visitors expected each year and up to $1.5 million going into the community via wages alone, Grow Mid-Canterbury business advisory services manager Simon Nikoloff said the pools were, "the single biggest catalyst for change that we can do for Methven".

With hot pools already in Hanmer and Tekapo, Nikoloff said they were not "intending to mimic" their counterparts, pointing out the difference of scenery as a big drawcard.

"We see the location as vital - the braided rivers, the flat plains, the rolling hills, just stunning scenery - particularly in winter."

Tekapo Springs were similarly unfazed by Methven's plans.

General manager Cathy Hemsworth said "if everyone was worried about what would affect their business, no-one would build anything".

Hemsworth said she was yet to see the plans but was confident that because of Tekapo's projected growth it had little to worry about.

"There's new plans for extending the village and more accommodation to go in and a new supermarket - things are happening here. We have got a great range of activities here - you name it, Tekapo's got it."

The site selection process for the Methven pools is in its final stages, with the project requiring at least 2 hectares. It will take up to two and a half years to build after funding is secured.

The Press