New Zealand Nabs Its First Whitewater Park

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River towns across the U.S. aren’t the only ones surfing the whitewater-park wave of success. S2o Design and Engineering recently completed New Zealand’s first in-stream whitewater park, the Camphill Surf Park, and it too is earning rave reviews. Founded in 2003 by Scott Shipley, S2O Design prides itself on innovative and holistic approaches to whitewater park design that meets economic, environmental and recreational objectives.

So the next time you’re down under on a paddling adventure, check the Kiwi’s first fabricated whitewater park off your bucket list. Located near Wanaka on the South Island, gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park and also home to some of the best skiing in the country, Camphill Surf Park was made possible through unprecedented levels of cooperation between one of New Zelands’s largest utility companies (Contact Energy), the Central Otago Whitewater Association (COWA), regional and local town councils, government agencies and landowners.

“The finished park has exceeded our club’s expectations,” said Gordon Raynor, COWA Chairman of the S2o-designed whitewater Park and avid advocate for the sport. “Never has surfing a wave been so sweet as my first ride on the second thumping wave at 120 cumecs (cubic meters per second) and experiencing the real dimensions of something which to that point had only existed in our imaginations.”

The park includes two features designed to accommodate paddlers of all abilities. The top hole is wide and steady with a two-foot-high foam pile that was designed to provide stable side surfing, spins, loops and other basic freestyle practice at all flows. This lower feature is characterized by a fast jet of water used for slalom training and basic maneuvers at lower flows, but which grows into an international-standard competitive freestyle feature as the water levels rise.

“It is practical mitigation for kayakers for whitewater lost to hydro projects; it creates recreational and economic opportunities for our community; it showcases what a partnership between kayakers and big business can achieve; it has a beneficial ecological impact; and it shows other regions in New Zealand what a recreational river enhancement project looks like,” Raynor said.

Committed to reinventing whitewater, S2O has developed patented solutions that make whitewater parks easier and more profitable to operate as well as more enjoyable for whitewater enthusiasts of all skill levels. For more information, visit the S2o Design website.

–Aaron Bible

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