One of Hawke's Bay's biggest tourism attractions Splash Planet will be closed for the summer for the first time since it was established in 1998.
Hastings District Council made the difficult decision on Thursday after weighing up the Covid risks - particularly for unvaccinated young people who use the water park - and the expected high financial cost of operating under Covid restrictions.
People seeking reprieve from the rising temperatures will now have to look elsewhere over summer.
Councillor Kevin Watkins said it was not a matter of if but when Covid would land in Hawke's Bay.
"In my view we have a tsunami coming toward us and we have to do the best thing for the community," he said.
"Splash attracts a section of the most vulnerable people to Covid in our community - the young people who are not vaccinated. I could not have that on my conscience."
Councillors voted unanimously to keep the gates shut for the 2021/2022 summer season.
The council heard there would be a huge financial cost over and above the $799,000 budgeted to run the theme park each year if the region remained at Covid level 2, or went into a lockdown.
The council heard there would be considerable extra costs involved in abiding by the restrictions and having a cap on visitors.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst noted it was a sad decision that would impact a lot of people, including the 92 students and young people who work at the centre every year.
Hastings District Council CEO Nigel Bickle said Splash Planet was Hawke's Bay's "number one tourism attraction last year" with over 140,000 visitors but that was "in the context of a fantastic summer with no Covid in New Zealand".
The council was due to make a decision on the much-loved theme park last week but postponed its decision to review the latest health advice.