A 20 metre timber pirate ship which was a centrepiece of Hastings' Splash Planet theme park for almost 50 years has been destroyed in an Easter Sunday arson.
The ship, built mainly by volunteers and an original attraction when the park was first established as Fantasyland in 1967, was ablaze when the first of three fire crews from Hastings and Napier arrived after the alarm was raised at 6.01am.
The fire is being treated as suspicious and Detective Glenn Yule, of Hawke's Bay CIB, confirmed police are investigating.
The ship survived the rebranding of the attraction as Splash Planet as a water theme park in 1998, and generations of visitors have clambered through the static vessel.
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It has been closed in recent years, but with a decorative makeover it has served as a backdrop for a kayaking lake, and storage for the canoes.
Splash Planet, which has been on a weekends-only schedule since ending its seven-days-a-week summer season in mid-February, has been a popular holiday attraction throughout the Easter holiday weekend, with about 450 visitors on Good Friday and another 1500 yesterday.
It was able to open again on time at 10am today, although the kayak enclosure and lake was out-of-bounds. Splash Planet is open again from 10am to 6pm tomorrow, the last day before closing for the winter.