The Hastings District Council has started testing the waters over the future of star attraction Splash Planet ahead of a possible expansion proposal in the new year.
Councillors dipped their toes this week in what Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst calls an "up-to-date, on-the-ground" assessment tour, aimed at getting a feel for opportunities to grow the water park, which started life in 1967 as Fantasyland, a Downunder response to the success of Disneyland, which had opened in California 12 years earlier.
The council does not envisage a makeover of the $4.7 million type that transformed it into Splash Planet in 1998, but Hazlehurst said: "We need to continue to invest in upgrading and maintaining this much-loved asset to provide a top-class facility that offers visitors a fantastic experience."
Attendances have averaged more than 100,000 people each year over the past decade, about 47 per cent of them "local".
Numbers peak between Boxing Day and the end of January, with about half the annual foot-traffic in that time.
"This is a hugely-popular fun place for our local people as well as a signature Hastings destination for those from outside the region," Hazlehurst said.
The council provides annual funding to support the park, but some attractions within it are "getting to an age that they need more investment than just maintenance", a council statement said.
Council group manager facilities and programmes Alison Banks and Splash Planet manager Peran Hutchings have been asked to investigate options and opportunities over the summer for a proposal to be put before the council.
Chief financial officer Bruce Allan says the Council's Long Term plan includes $3.8m of "new works and renewals" over the next 10 years, but if further development was proposed, the Council would need to consider how that would be funded.
The rating requirement for the operation of Splash Planet is budgeted at $641,000 in the current financial year.