Home' Special Publications : Holiday Guide December 24th Contents 8 ---THE NELSON MAIL Tuesday, December 24, 2013 Holiday Guide
Lots offun for the young at heart
Nelson Fun Park
Hydroslide: $7 half-hour, $10 full hour
Bumper boats: $9 for seven minutes
Children (2-14 years): $4.50
Infants (0-2 years): Free
Concession (two adults, two children): $22.50
Pro Karts drivers must be 14 years of age or
Fun Karts drivers must be 9 years or older
Prices range from $16 for 10 minutes to $40
for 30 minutes. See prokarts.co.n.z
Interesting mix: A phicken (pheasant-chicken
cross) at Natureland.
Hell on wheels: Friends Stacey Knott, left, and Beth Tillier going hard out on
the Pro Karts track.
As a child, my Nelson summers were
spent at Tahunanui Beach. Casual visits
were for poking around in the rock pools
and swimming, followed by climbing the
blue whale and sitting up there with a Mr
Whippy icecream to avoid a tantrum brought on
For special occasions I was treated to
Natureland, the Nelson Fun Park, go-karts or the
If it was a treat with my family or a few friends,
it was an easy outing with no pressure or con-
cern. If it was a school trip or with a big group of
friends I had weaseled into, it mostly made me
nervous, because I was an uncoordinated,
unadventurous child. I recently revisited this
area of Tahunanui with a friend in tow, to con-
vince myself there was nothing to fear.
Nelson Fun Park
First to be conquered were the bumper boats. I
refused to set foot in them 20 years ago, convinced
I would be tipped into the murky water. With a
vindictive older sister, this fear wasn't entirely
The Nelson Fun Park has a fleet of eight, soon
to be 10, and they are propelled by a small motor
that you control, choosing your direction.
Park co-owner Michele Lee pulls the cord to
start the motor, and with a gentle push I'm away,
chasing my friend around the small pool and
colliding as much as possible, water splashing up
I alternate this with spinning myself in circles
in the middle of the pool, cackling away, while
Waimea Intermediate pupils on an end-of-year
outing look on, probably confused about the
childish behaviour of adults.
Next to the bumper boats is the hydroslide, one
of my favourite things when I was a kid -- once I
got over my initial fear, of course.
Michele assures me that I'm not the only adult
who plays on the hydroslide. So, with her bless-
ing, we pad up the stairs, surrounded by kids.
That overwhelming sense of excitment I vividly
remember comes on strong again.
At the top, there are two lines, with the kids
jostling to be next to their friends, and a big spout
of water dividing them. A teacher in charge does
a double take and laughs when she sees us tower-
ing over the kids, and waves us ahead of them.
I go for two rounds. It's still really exciting --
you slip up along the sides, and there's a middle
section where you build plenty of momentum so
you feel like you're going really fast.
Approaching the bottom, you see the light
starting to come through. As a kid, I would take
a deep breath here before being plunged into the
water. This time, I just skid out, hysterically
laughing at my friend pulling herself together,
having shot out moments earlier.
Dried and a bit drained, we head across the
road to an favourite old haunt, good for curious
kids and their adult chaperones.
This has changed a lot since I was last there, in
the early 1990s, when animal welfare probably
wasn't at the levels demanded now.
New co-manager, Nelsonian Mike Rutledge,
also remembers coming to Natureland as a kid,
and we recall what has changed there over the
There's still the paddock where you feed Rice
Bubbles to the farm animals, which slobber all
over you in thanks.
I'm happy to report that the flocks of wander-
ing birds don't scare me any more. A peacock
shows off his brilliant feathers, while a fawn am-
bles past him.
New additions include meerkats, a porcupine
and tuatara, and the monkey enclosure has been
Old favourites lie about in the sun -- there are
kunekune pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs and, perched
on branches in a walk-through aviary, a huge
assortment of birds, squawking at me as I pass.
There's another group of school kids here and,
just as I was once upon a time, they are in awe of
the lambs, race towards the monkeys and fight to
feed the goats. Some things never change.
Finally -- though I don't recommend you fit all
these activities into one day, as I was exhausted
by the end -- is the Pro Karts.
I'd been on the go-karts here before, when I was
about 10, but a lack of coordination, confusing the
brake for the accelerator, meant I smashed into
the sides of the track every few minutes.
The Pro Karts are faster, and I crash only once
It's immense fun, and a hit around this time of
year with office parties and end-of-year shindigs.
The racing is good for competitive spirits, and
the karts are safe for kids as well.
While I may not have the stamina for all these
activities that I once did, and tantrums at the end
of the day are no longer acceptable, Tahunanui is
still a really fun place over summer.
It's mostly for kids but, as I found out, if you're
an adventurous (or childish) adult, you can have
a great time, too.
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