'No stopping zone' proposed for highway at Cromwell water park

by Kim Bowden - Mar 07, 2024

A no-stopping zone is being proposed for a stretch of highway on the outskirts of Cromwell to make it safer for motorists around a busy summer attraction on Lake Dunstan.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is asking for feedback on its plan to extend red 'no stopping' lines on both sides of 1.3 kilometres of State Highway Six at Lowburn.

Chris Harris, the senior safety engineer for the agency in Otago and Southland, says the proposal is to manage the impacts of the Kiwi Water Park.

He says there is an increased demand there for roadside parking, which is risky on a section of rural road with a 100-kilometre speed limit.

"The business has created a roadside attraction, which can create a distraction for motorists."

Kiwi Water Park operator Emily Rutherford says there has been "zero issues this season" with vehicles coming and going from the site.

Before the 2022 to 2023 summer season, Ms Rutherford hit national headlines with claims "bureaucratic red tape" was threatening her operation.

She said a permit to operate required by Land Information New Zealand had been delayed due to road safety concerns.

Data held by the agency shows there have been four crashes on the stretch of highway since 2020, when the park first opened.

Mr Harris says three of these were associated with the water park and nearby freedom camping area.

"One of these three crashes resulted in serious injury; the remainder were non-injury."

He says the agency has responded to public safety concerns thrown up by the water park's operation over the years.

In the first year, temporary signage was put in place to slow traffic around the site.

In 2022, the agency paid for a turning bay to be constructed on the highway at the entrance to the neighbouring freedom camping site and boat ramp, where visitors to the water park are also advised to park, to walk the few hundred metres to the floating playground.

NZTA's proposed no-stopping zone along State Highway Six at Lowburn (Supplied/NZTA).

Prior to this summer, the agency erected a fence along one side of the highway for a kilometre or so in front of the park.

"The latest response to keep people safe is the no-stopping area consultation."

Mr Harris says NZTA has not received any complaints this summer related to the water park.

Keen to have a say? Submissions can be emailed to [email protected].

Main image (File photo): Visitors to the Kiwi Water Park leave their vehicles on the verge of State Highway Six on the outskirts of Cromwell, January 2023.

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