Parents complain of Chipmunks Queenstown safety, hygiene issues

by Peter Newport - Apr 29, 2024

The franchised children’s play area provider, Chipmunks, has responded to complaints that their Queenstown emergency exits are blocked, along with other safety related issues.

Crux was approached this weekend by two parents who sent photos of blocked emergency exits along with copies of complaints about kitchen waste being spread throughout the play area, unprotected power plugs, a broken slide and dangerous gaps in some play equipment.

One complainant says they have "some serious concerns" after their visit and it is not the first time they have raised them.

"All fire exits are blocked...waste is spread throughout the store...power plugs with no covers...a large gap between the giant inflatable slide and the wall...a broken slide over one of the fire exits kids are still trying to play on.

"This is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Another complaint received by Crux says:

“I visited your (Chipmunks) Queenstown branch this afternoon as I have never been before and wanted to bring my little child. My daughters started to have a play on the slides and play area. When I looked around I noticed that the only two fire exits in the building are completely blocked with either broken play equipment or flattened card board boxes. 

"I find this to be absolutely shocking considering that this is a child's play area where pushchairs are used and if there was a fire towards the entrance there would be zero escape route without having to (move) items which would delay an escape."

An emergency exit blocked by trade waste on Sunday, April 28 (Image: Supplied).

An emergency exit blocked by broken play equipment on Sunday, April 28 (Image: Supplied).

When Crux visited Chipmunks this afternoon (April 29) the two emergency exits had been cleared – one fully and one partially – and the onsite manager said that the complaints were being taken “very seriously”.

The manager, who gave her name as Nicole, said that she expected the Queenstown Lakes District Council to make a safety inspection visit this afternoon.

She explained that she had only been in the role for around 90 days and had been away on the Gold Coast for the past couple of weeks.

Crux has received no response from Chipmunks head office via their website contact form. The site does not include any email addresses, phone numbers or media contacts.

We did manage to contact Hayden Yardley of Dunedin accountants Yardley Lo Associates.

Mr Yardley says his accounting firm is acting in a caretaker capacity as the franchise owners have left Queenstown for Christchurch due to “difficult trading conditions”. Mr Yardley says he is currently looking for a buyer for the business and attempting to get a licence from the Ministry of Social Development.

Mr Yardley says the safety and waste problems identified have only become evident over the past couple of days. He says a children’s slide has been broken and other issues are being addressed by the company. He says the power point has been broken since Saturday.

The business plans to open again to the public on Wednesday.

Crux has contacted the Queenstown Lakes District to request the outcome of their inspection visit.


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