Chance for ice skating in Napier beckons

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Turning his jacket collar up to deflect the cold southwesterly wind whipping across Hawke's Bay yesterday, David Parlane had to concede that, yes, the timing was appropriate.

After a "bit of a power issue" on Tuesday afternoon that set back the filling of Napier's new Marine Parade ice-skating rink, the power came right yesterday and was assisted by the single-digit air temperature in getting the pumped layers of water down and turned to ice.

It is the first time the Harcourts Winter Wonderland rink, operated by the Christchurch-based Douglas Webber Group, has been set up in the Bay and it will operate from today until October 13.

Mr Parlane has managed the facility for the past three years and said it was one of three operating in the country - the other two are in Christchurch and Hamilton.

"And hey, if the people here come out and use it then we'll look at bringing it back next year," he said.

It took three days to set the rink up and lay the intricate piping that acts like a giant freezer.

Seating, carpeting, spotlights and fairy lights were also being installed.

The water was pumped on in layers using a heavy-duty hose system - each layer freezing in about four to five hours.

All up, about 33,000 litres of water will have been applied, and at the end of the stay will have the spring benefit of warmer temperatures to help it thaw for pumping away.

Mr Parlane said he had seen toddlers of three through to more mature folk, 70-plus, having what for many was their first experience of skating on ice.

"I never tire of seeing the smiles when after going along the edges they set off and skate across the ice."

He said among the 12 staff, all hired locally, there were some who would assist and advise ice rookies.

"We also have what we call 'Bobbies' for the little ones to sit on."

The Bobbies are bright red plastic seals with a seat and a handle, and can be pushed across the ice.

So would Mr Parlane get out and about on the frozen stuff ... given the Bay weather had provided the perfect opening day?

"No, never done it," he said with a smile.

"I've been bribed and blackmailed to have a skate but no, I haven't," he said.

He added he was too busy, and it was too much fun watching others having fun.

Even as it was being set up a group of young people arrived to check it out and one of them, who gave her name as Emma, summed it up suitably.

"That's got to be very cool," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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