A major tourist attraction cashing in on Tauranga's reputation as a fishing and beach destination could be built on Marine Park at Sulphur Point.
Tauranga-based Academy Award nominated film director Mike Firth has spent years planning a 3D marine film cinema and aquarium, with the council updated on progress last year.
The prospect that his project was gathering traction followed the disclosure that a significant tourist attraction has been mooted for the area formerly occupied by the BMX track on Marine Park.
The Bay's booming tourist trade could also see the development of a $3 million wakeboard park in which overhead cables replaced speed boats to haul wakeboard riders around a shallow man-made lake - ideally measuring 750m by 450m.
Councillor Catherine Stewart told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that the council had been briefed on Mr Firth's concept last year, with financial details and more information to come back later.
"Something like that would be great, it ticks all the boxes."
Mr Firth said he had been talking to the council about the project but declined further comment.
The council's city transformation manager Jaine Lovell-Gadd confirmed there was "definitely interest" in the Marine Park site, but said it was early days.
She declined to be specific but said it was exciting and was coming back to the council next month for a discussion.
Ms Lovell-Gadd said Marine Park was one of the city's gems. Its status as a reserve meant a whole lot of things needed to be worked through to see if a tourism venture was possible.
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Tauranga economic development agency Priority One has supported the development of the 3D marine cinema and aquarium.
It was one of the main projects behind Priority One's strategy to champion a stronger tertiary education and research presence in the Bay.
Other projects contributing to the strategy included the University of Waikato's Coastal Marine Field Station at Sulphur Point - close to the possible site for the cinema and aquarium.
Tourism Bay of Plenty has also been involved, outlining in its 2014 annual report how it had "coached" the aquarium project to the feasibility stage.
A report to the Tauranga and Western Bay councils' joint committee said the project had synergies with the Coastal Marine Field Station. It said Priority One was working with stakeholders to identify potential locations and investors.
Priority One provided funding to assist in the "development of marketing and communications collateral" to enable up to $6 million in investment funding to be raised. It also offered the connections for Mr Firth to have the business and investment case peer reviewed.
Tourism Bay of Plenty's chief executive Rhys Arrowsmith said Mr Firth's project and a wakeboard park would be a great step forward and capitalise on the $800 million a year tourists spent in the coastal Bay of Plenty. Only 10 per cent of the spend was on paid attractions.
"There are real opportunities for tourism investment in the region."
Tauranga accountant Michelle Malcolm, the treasurer of Wakeboarding New Zealand and Tourism BOP, is part of a group of 10 wakeboarders who are hunting for a site to build a cables park. The $3-4 million project was unable to get any traction because they have not found an affordable site with natural water flows.
"It does not have to be prime land, it could be prone to flooding."
She said a wakeboard park would be a natural fit for Tauranga and she was confident that the sport tipped to become an Olympic event would explode in the Bay if they could find a site.
They were planning a course that could be ridden by multiple riders instead of one rider at a time with a two-post course. "Raising the money would be easier than finding a site."
Ms Malcolm, a principal of accounting firm Crowe Horwath, said three of New Zealand's four wakeboard suppliers were based in Tauranga.