The quality and availability of our grounds, cycleways and sporting facilities makes us the envy of many regions.
Just recently Central Hawke's Bay residents got to welcome a new all-weather multi-sport turf and netball courts at Russell Park, Waipukurau.
The flood-lit facility cost $1.8m, most of which was fundraised by the community. It will be a great asset not just for CHB but for the surrounding area.
Along with the new full-sized turf that is marked out for hockey and netball, Russell Park also has an indoor swimming complex, fitness centre, indoor arena, sport fields for rugby and football, tennis courts, an outdoor fitness circuit, cycle track and skatepark.
Located in the heart of Waipukurau and on the main entrance road, it is an eye-catching sporting hub.
Already CHB locals are predicting increased participation in sports such as hockey and netball.
Well done to all those involved in fundraising and building this fantastic facility.
In addition, CHB District Council is investing in a refurbishment of the Waipawa Pool.
There is plenty of facility development going else elsewhere too.
Sport Hawke's Bay chairman Damon Harvey and I recently took Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin to Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park to look at the progress of the new EIT Institute of Sport and Health being constructed by the Sir Graeme Avery-led Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust.
Peter was impressed with the complex, which will open in June 2019, and he can see the many benefits programmes that operate from within will offer.
He was also impressed by the use of the existing facilities that evening – it was a hive of activity with hundreds of young people participating in netball, hockey and athletics on a stunning evening.
It proves that quality facilities boost participation.
The Regional Sports Park Trust recently presented its annual report to Hastings District Council and although a profit was reported, the trust was particularly proud of the usage numbers of over 286,000 across the park.
The park is home to Hawke's Bay Netball and since amalgamating the Regional Sport Organisation participation numbers have swelled from 4000 to 7000.
Other success stories have been hockey – up from 2200 to 3000, rugby league up from 250 to 1300 and touch from 350 to 1500.
A proposed purpose-built canoe polo facility will boost usage further.
In Napier, new and upgraded facilities are also helping get more people more active more often.
At Anderson Park, Napier City Council has invested in a state-of-the-art destination playground that is not only incredibly popular but has already received a national award.
Marine Parade is also bustling with action and it's great to drive along (although I should say walk or jog along) Marine Parade and see the pathway, basketball court and skatepark being well used.
Construction of a much-needed new aquatic complex in Napier is also likely to start in the near future.
The decision regarding location and what the facility should contain has created robust discussion which is always important.
However, the proposed facility at Prebensen Drive was the option clearly favoured by Sport NZ which was asked to contribute an independent expert view and we support that view.
Indoor court sports are not being ignored either, which is good news as court space has been at a premium for several years.
In Flaxmere, the Hastings District Council is looking at the community centre and aiming to make some major improvements including a full-sized indoor basketball court.
Options for the expansion of the Pettigrew Green Arena to create more court space there are also being considered.
In Wairoa a new mountain bike track has opened to rave reviews, while last year the fitness centre at Wairoa Community Centre was expanded and upgraded.
There is certainly no shortage of opportunity to be active, so as we head into summer make sure you and your family get out and experience the wealth of facilities and natural recreational spots we have on our doorstep. Enjoy!
* Mark Aspden is Sport Hawke's Bay's chief executive.