Rotorua's council will invest $1.7 million into public toilets around the district in the next three years, including a $490,000 "jump ramp" toilet for mountain bikers.
Rotorua district councillors approved the council's public and reserve toilet upgrades, new builds and maintenance works programme for the next three years at a meeting of their Infrastructure Services committee this month.
The programme includes spending $390,000 on six new cubicles at the Redwood Forest Visitor Centre on Long Mile Rd, $490,000 on a new toilet block at the Waipa State Mill Rd carpark and upgrades to facilities in the Government Gardens and Tarawera Landing.
Council Parks and Recreation manager Garry Page presented his master plan to councillors, saying the new toilet block at Waipa was especially important considering Rotorua will soon be the base for the New Zealand Mountain Biking Centre of Excellence.
He said the toilet would double as a jump ramp as part of a mountain biking trail and the $490,000 price tag includes getting services such as power, water and sewerage to the site.
The toilet design would see the concrete block structure surrounded by earth on the sides and on the roof, forming a jump ramp for cyclists.
However, plans for a "destination toilet" in the Redwood Forest known as "The Longest Drop" - a toilet raised 5.5m up in the forest canopy, with one-way mirrored glass that would allow users to see out but stop those below from seeing in - were dumped a few months ago.
Instead, councillors opted for the cheaper option of building six individual unisex cubicles linked by a raised wooden walkway.
The new toilets would blend into the surrounding trees, between the Redwood Visitor Centre and the existing toilet block, which would remain in use during busy periods.
Presently, there are only three female toilets and one male toilet and a urinal at the visitor centre.
Councillor Mike McVicker questioned the spending of $390,000, asking Mr Page to justify the project.
Mr Page said there was not a significant cost difference between building a standard concrete block toilet and the new cubicles, which would be much easier on the eye.
Councillor Karen Hunt said she was pleased councillors gave the programme the go-ahead saying some of the district's toilets were long overdue for upgrades.
She was particularly pleased with the Redwood Forest concept, which would include artwork from local artists.
"Our toilets were really last century ... and they can add or detract from peoples' experiences and memories of a visit. The Redwood concept is the perfect mix of functionality and innovation," she said.
Work on the Redwood, Waipa, Tarawera Landing, Kerosene Creek and an open 24-hour toilet at the travel office on Fenton St would start this financial year, with the other projects spread out over the next two years.
Redwood Visitor Centre - $390,000
Waipa MTB Carpark - $490,000
Various toilet upgrades - $100,000
Trout Pool Rd - $35,000
Blue Lake Ski Club - $140,000
Tarawera Landing - $45,000
Centennial Park - $95,000
Rotoiti Delta - $35,000
Westbrook Reserve - $155,000
Kerosene Creek Cycleway - $35,000
Travel office 24hr toilet - $85,000
Travel office internal toilets - $50,000
Government Gardens upgrade - $50,000