New Zealand's largest waterslide and sustainable thermal pools have officially opened.
A $4.5 million development, including New Zealand's largest water slide, was officially opened at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa on Friday morning.
A class of very excited students from North Canterbury's Leithfield School were the first official riders, with 9-year-old Isaac Pond saying it was the best day off school "ever''.
Conical Thrill, a 13.5-metre high aquatic thrill ride and The Cascades, five new thermal pools, were opened by Hurunui Mayor Marie Black, who told those gathered that the assets would boost the regional economy.
Leithfield School's Year 3 and 4 class, Aniwaniwa, won a competition for the privilege of being first down the slide. Their entry was a moving and humorous video where they begged for the honour as they have a frog living in their own school pool.
There was no containing their excitement after the first run.
"It was scarier than I expected but lots of fun. You go down the drop and then get a little bit of air,'' Isaac said.
The consensus was much the same for Tahlia Bresson, 8.
"It's so much fun. You go down and you think it's scary at first but then you get to the drop and it's really scary.''
The Cascades are five pools connected by a series of waterfalls. They are water-efficient, with no balance tanks. The pools are also built on timber frames, above ground, to protect the giant Redwood tree roots below.
Half of the energy required to run the new pools and slide comes from a heat transfer unit that utilises energy which is a bi-product of the electricity generator*.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot is delighted to have the new additions open.
"This is the end of more than three years of planning and construction. We're very proud of Conical Thrill and The Cascades and know they'll become popular features.''
The pools' complex is owned by the Hurunui District Council and Mrs Black said the new developments will help attract more visitors to the region.
"Economic development is a key focus of the Hurunui District Council, and this project reflects our current and continued vision to support the tourism industry,'' she said.
Mr Abbot said the new additions will be a drawcard for the complex, boosting visitor numbers to the alpine spa village.
"The new Cascade pools and Conical Thrill slide add enormously to our offering. We now have 22 pools and four hydroslides, making the complex a really desirable option for anyone - both here and abroad.
"It's amazing to think that all this has grown from a single thermal pool and a tin changing shed."
The world's most extreme waterslides
1. The Wedgie, Whitewater World - Gold Coast, Australia
Described as "gut wrenching, heart pounding and teeth chattering", The Wedgie drops you five stories through a translucent pipe. If it wasn't already obvious, the name tells you exactly what this ride is likely to do to your swimmers.
2. King Cobra - Six Flags Hurricane Harbour, New Jersey, USA
What could be cooler than a waterslide shaped like a giant snake? As you slither around the cobra's body, reaching speeds of up to 51km/h, you'll end up right in the mouth of the red and black beast.
3. Insano - Brazil Beach Park, Porto das Dunas
Clocking in at 41m, with speeds of up to 104km/hr, this "Insano" drop is not for the faint of heart.
4. Summit Plummit - Disney's Blizzard Beach, Florida
This very novel ski-themed waterslide is one of the tallest, fastest slides in the world. It's in Blizzard Beach, part of the Walt Disney World complex in Florida.
5. Boeing 747 - Evergreen Wings and Waves Waterpark, Oregon
Located on the roof of an aviation museum that doubles as a waterpark, this converted 747 is one of the most unique waterslides in the world.
6. Bazooka Bowls - Cultus Lake Water Park, Canada
Much like the coin donation wishing wells at the movies, this slide ends with riders being spun around two big bowls, before being dumped unceremoniously into a pool of water at the end.
7. Verruckt - Schlitterbahn, Kansas City
Don't let the German name fool you, the Schlitterbahn (slippery road) waterparks are located in the United States. The Verruckt slide in Kansas City is currently the tallest waterslide in the world. The ride's rafts take three people at a time down a 51m drop.
8. Leap of Faith - Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas
Slide from the top of a Mayan Temple down an almost vertical drop. It's a terrifying yet exhilarating journey that takes you through a shark-filled lagoon by way of a clear, acrylic tube.
9. Citta Del Mar - Sicily
At the Citta Del Mar holiday resort, the waterslides drop you straight into the Mediterranean Sea.
10. Jumeirah Sceirah - Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai
Revamped in 2012, the Jumeirah Sceirah ride starts with a sudden drop. Riders wait inside capsules, until the floor collapses and sends them hurtling uncontrollably through a narrow tube.