Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Square set for winter freeze

It's nearly time to get your skates on in the central city.

A scene more reminiscent of snowy New York than rainy Auckland will greet visitors to Aotea Square later this month.
A scene more reminiscent of snowy New York than rainy Auckland will greet visitors to Aotea Square later this month.

A scene more reminiscent of snowy New York than rainy Auckland will greet visitors to Aotea Square later this month.

In just over a week, dozens of workers, including two United States engineers, will begin building a temporary outdoor ice skating rink in the square.

Paradice Ice Skating general manager Chris Blong, whose family-owned ice rink company is behind the ambitious project, said the 180-capacity rink will open on June 23.

The company decided to build the rink to encourage more people into the sport of ice skating, said Blong, who is a former national figure-skating champion.

He hoped the novelty would also bring a bit of the Northern Hemisphere winter and its famous outdoor rinks, like the Rockefeller Centre in New York, to Auckland.

"Everyone I've been talking to about it is quite taken aback," Blong said, "but it's going to be a lot of fun."

The rink would also be open during the five-day run of The Nutcracker, performed from July 3 by the Imperial Ice Stars on a specially built ice stage at the Aotea Centre.

It was no small feat bringing the ice to a city known for its mild winters, Blong said.

Workers would start by laying a 27.5m by 15m platform. It would be covered by aluminium panels which would have pipes inside them carrying glycol, a fluid similar to anti-freeze, which had been kept cold by a large chiller unit. The rink would then be flooded with 14,000 litres of water, which the panels would freeze into a 30cm deep layer of ice kept at a temperature of -7C.

Blong would not reveal exactly how much the project was costing the company.

"It will be in the tens of thousands of dollars a week. It's very expensive, but we think it's worth it."

He was also coy on how long the rink would remain in the square, saying only that it would be several weeks.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 02 Oct 2014 18:23:49 Processing Time: 1358ms