The opening of the country's first purpose-built whitewater park today was marked by celebrations, a grand parade and an unplanned tumble into the water by a Maori Warden.

The $37 million complex years in the making officially opened its doors today in Manukau, South Auckland.

The park's manager, Kiwi Olympic kayaking success Ian Ferguson said event had been great and had gone as planned bar one minor hiccup when a Maori Warden accidentally fell into the water during the parade.

"Her job was to keep the people out of the water and she got too excited watching the waka and fell in. It was unfortunate she fell out because she got wet but it was safe. You can actually stand up where she fell in."


The woman was swiftly lifted out of the water by a bystander.

Otherwise, the day ran smoothly with an official opening by the Prime Minister, appearances by local Iwi and the local community and people getting a chance to enjoy the water.

Mr Ferguson said the park was "the best artificial course on the planet".

"It turned out better than I dreamed of. We have had all the young slalom paddlers there over the weekend testing it and everyday they go out and are still smiling for hours afterwards.

"It is worth the time we spent building it. This is a way they can now train hard and get to the Olympics."

The park is open to the public tomorrow and Mr Ferguson expects a good turn out despite the cooling weather.