Ice rink drawcard on waterfront

By Kiri Gillespie

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A portable ice-skating rink is coming to Tauranga for Christmas.

The Harcourts Outdoor Ice Rink will be set up and frozen at the waterfront area on The Strand next month.

The 35m by 15m ice rink travelled to Rotorua and Hamilton earlier this year and comes to Tauranga after requests from local residents, said Gareth Webber, director of Ice-World New Zealand, which owns the rink.

"One of the guys in our office is actually from Mount Maunganui, so he's been pushing pretty hard for it.

"We also have a Facebook page with a lot of inquiries and we've had more from Tauranga than anywhere else, for some reason," Mr Webber said.

"I think people are pretty excited about it."

The ice rink will be set up in the northern waterfront carpark, where a gypsy fair was held earlier this month.

Mr Webber said the ice rink attracted 20,000 to 30,000 people when it visited the other centres this year.

It was especially popular with children and families as the rink had plastic learning seals named "Bobby" that held skaters up, he said.

The rink will run from 9am to 10pm daily, from December 13.

Mr Webber said a closing date would depend on the demand but it was expected to stay for at least several weeks.

Downtown Tauranga manager Kirby Weis said the organisation and Tauranga City Council had worked hard to bring the ice rink to the city.

"We think it will be a wonderful thing, not just for downtown Tauranga ... It's just excellent to have an ice-skating rink on the waterfront for all of the region to enjoy over the summer.

"It's perfect for school holidays and perfect for Christmas celebrations."

Tauranga city events manager Peter Melgren said the council had been in discussions to bring the ice rink to the city since late last year and it had not cost the council anything.

"We are really looking forward to it," Mr Melgren said.

Skates and training frames can be hired from the rink.

The ice in the rink is 7cm thick and takes a night to freeze.

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Rhys Arrowsmith said it was a fantastic way to showcase Tauranga's waterfront - "our jewel in the crown".

"And to enjoy the contrast between the beautiful sunshine and ice is a great addition to our city," he said.

The ice rink was transported to different centres in a shipping container. It was originally set up for the US vs Canada Ice Hockey Series last year.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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