This water park is a scream for young and old, finds Alex Tully.
As soon as my 5-year-old son disappeared into the black hole I knew I was going to have to follow him.
Before I knew it I was sliding at a great speed in the pitch black, twisting and turning through a slippery water-filled pipe, going so fast that a small scream escaped from between my clenched teeth, only to be slam-dunked under the water.
As I gasped for air and my eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight I saw my son's grinning face before me. "That was awwwwwesome! Can we do it again?"
"Let's do the Double Dipper next," I replied, and we raced up the stairs that lead to Splash Planet's water slide rides.
Hidden away in the Hawkes Bay, Hastings' Splash Planet is probably New Zealand's best water theme park and certainly a whole lot of fun for all the family.
If you have younger children or are just not into exhilarating rides, don't worry, there are plenty of other options, such as the Toddlers Pool with its interactive water toys or the wonderfully relaxing Never Ending River. And if you don't feel like getting wet there is lots of fun to be had on the Jungle Jeeps, Mini Golf, Flying Fox, Formula Fun Karts or Tiny Town, a fully enclosed play area for toddlers.
As with any such complex it's a good idea to take sunscreen, hats, food, water, towels and something warm to wear on your day of fun.
And, although the water is heated, I find my kids tend to get cold quite easily, so I took a second set of rash shirts and shorts. This allowed them to put on a dry set for their afternoon session of water activities after a break for refuelling at the Fuel Shed.
We stayed from opening to closing time and there were still complaints that there had not been enough time to do everything.
"Can we go again tomorrow?" my 6-year-old asked hopefully as we exited the theme park.
"What was your favourite thing?" I asked, changing the subject.
"Mmmm. I think it was the Mega Blaster. Oh, but the Sky Screamer was pretty exciting, it was really fast. I was a bit scared for my first go down the Sky Tunnel but the next one was cool. And I liked driving my own jeep. I'd like another go on those.
"Umm, if you bring me again tomorrow I'll be able to decide which one is the best then."
Well, I guess I don't know how to outsmart a 6-year-old, but I do know that Splash Planet is a great day out for kids, young and old.
Further information: Splash Planet's prices for 2011 are: Adult Super Pass $26, Child Super Pass $18, Spectators $5, over 65s and 3 years and under free. Ring 0508 SPLASH.