Floating spa pools could soon be seen on Lake Whakatipu.
Wakatipu Soak’s applied to Queenstown’s council to operate up to five motorised spas for ‘‘bare bones charters’’, with between two and six passengers per vessel, to operate in an area about 1.7km long and 0.6km wide from Queenstown Marina.
Proposed by Queenstown business partners Jake Allen and Michael Hawley, documents filed in support of their application — currently being vetted — say they’re looking to provide a ‘‘unique Queenstown experience that leverages the natural beauty of the area for tourists and locals alike’’.
The spas, about 4 metres long, would travel at less than 5 knots, with the water heated either by propane or wood, and onboard saltwater cleansing and UV filtration, so no water would be discharged to Lake Whakatipu.
Manufactured in Nevada, United States, they’re designed to be ‘‘untippable’’ because the weight of the water’s centred below the surface of the lake.
The application says between two and six guests could charter the electric-powered floating spas for up to 90 minutes.
Before getting on, they’d receive an extensive safety briefing in compliance with Maritime New Zealand guidance, and a skipper would be nominated.
That person wouldn’t be permitted to consume alcohol, and drunk people won’t be allowed onboard.
Proposal: Wakatipu Float’s proposed operating area, in red
While under the council’s navigational safety bylaw, adopted in 2018, all people on vessels under 6 metres must wear lifejackets, the applicants say they’ve worked with harbourmaster Phil Wiel and understand they’ll be granted an exemption, based on the preparation of a safety plan.
That includes appropriately-sized lifejackets being stowed onboard, and a safety vessel and staffer available via radio or phone at all times.
Staff would also assess lake conditions — predominantly wind — and adjust the operating area, or cancel bookings, as required.
The company’s seeking to operate from 8am to 8pm — spas would have MNZ-compliant lighting and waterproof radios, with guests encouraged to take cell phones.
There’d also be open comms lines with other commercial operators, and staff would have binoculars and monitor spas’ locations.
The proposal’s not considered to generate any adverse visual or landscape effects, the applicants say, and noise from guests in the spas was ‘‘unlikely to be a noticeable element in the context of the area’’.
‘‘While the watercrafts themselves are somewhat unusual in their appearance, the vessels … will clearly be seen as a tourist activity in the context of a district which is synonymous with tourism.’’