The Waikoko Gardens and other parts of Showgrounds Hawke's Bay Tomoana are to be opened as a community park in a three-month trial giving the public and their dogs a new green space to enjoy in Hastings.
Owned by the Hawke's Bay A&P Society for about 109 years, access to the grounds has been restricted and open to the public mainly for events such as its annual Hawke's Bay A&P Show.
General manager Sally Jackson said the society was aware Waipatu and Mayfair residents did not have a nearby easily accessible public park and decided to open up part of the showgrounds.
"It's fantastic to be lifting the restrictions and opening the gates for everyone to be able to enjoy the grounds during this trial period," she said.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst agreed it would be a "great opportunity" for the community to get out in the fresh air and away from footpaths and roads, especially those living in the area.
"The Showgrounds provides a lovely space with lots of room for people to exercise, and be able to maintain physical distancing."
With not a lot of designated off-lead dog walking areas in the district, it was "exciting" that the A&P Society was offering another option, she said.
The park will be open as a trial from tomorrow to August 31, including the 3ha gardens – where dogs will have to remain on leads. But the canines will be able to be off-lead in an adjacent 4ha paddock also being opened sup.
Both Jackson and Hazlehurst reminded people of Covid-19 guidelines, including safe distancing of dogs and owners.
The conditions also mean public toilets at the showgrounds will remain closed, but they could be reopened if the park proves popular and continues beyond August.
The park will be open from Monday to Saturday 6am to 6pm, and on Sundays after the Farmers Market closes between 1pm and 6pm. Entrance will be through the main gate (Gate 2) on Kenilworth Rd.
Parking is available within the showgrounds and the society asks visitors not to park on Kenilworth Rd, as a courtesy to residents.