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Plans underway for aquatic sensory experience at Christchurch’s Metro Sports Facility

Plans underway for aquatic sensory experience at Christchurch’s Metro Sports Facility
February 15, 2021

Plans for a high-tech aquatic sensory experience are underway at Christchurch City Council’s Metro Sports Facility. The Aquatic Sensory Experience will offer innovative stimulation options to support well-being and development for all ages and abilities.

Set to open in 2022, the Metro Sports Facility will be the largest aquatic and indoor recreation and leisure venue of its kind in New Zealand, accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

Christchurch City Council Head of Recreation, Sports and Events, Nigel Cox advises that the positive community feedback to the Southern Centre and the Aquatic Sensory Experience has been overwhelming.

“These special sensory facilities activate the imagination, stimulating activity and helping to realise the potential of people with a range of abilities to be more resourceful and independent.”

For eight-year-old Jonty Smolenski – who has a very rare genetic disorder. Trichothiodystrophy, that causes multiple, challenging physical problems and affects his ability to recover from any illness  - the Christchurch City Council’s Southern Centre at the Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre has allowed him to explore a unique space independently and revel in the sights and sounds within a safe, interactive environment.

The centre’s technology helps stimulate senses and can be adapted to meet individual needs.

In 2019/20, it welcomed 7537 people – most with disabilities.

Jonty’s parents, Sam and Maree Smolenski, say their son is “never without a smile when exploring all the bits and bobs” at the centre. Jonty plays with everything, and his confidence levels continue to climb as he becomes more comfortable in a very special sensory environment.”

Jonty’s teacher, Gail Sharman advises “the centre helps Jonty learn and process, providing that vital extra stimulation in an amazing and easily accessible environment for those with very unique needs.”

The Southern Centre is open Monday to Sunday, with bookings required. It mostly benefits those with learning differences, cerebral palsy, autism, multiple disabilities and anxiety.

For more information on The Southern Centre go to

Image top: Christchurch City Council Southern Centre sensory space

Related Articles

18th August 2020 - Christchurch City Council invites feedback on New Zealand’s first aquatic sensory experience

13th December 2019 - Christchurch Metro Sports Facility to feature Polin Looping Rocket hydroslide

21st August 2019 - Marvel Stadium partners with Ingles family to launch sensory room

3rd May 2019 - Kardinia Park Stadium Trust and Geelong FC partner to offer sensory inclusive experience

1st May 2019 - NRL and AFL launch sensory rooms at some venues to connect with all fans

4th April 2019 - GMHBA Stadium becomes Australia’s first Sensory Inclusive Stadium

28th March 2019 - Contractor secured for Christchurch Metro Sports Facility

2nd June 2018 - Reborn QEII Recreation and Sport Centre opened in Christchurch

22nd November 2017 - Rising cost fears lead to review of Christchurch Metro sports facility plans

13th September 2017 - Earthquake-damaged Christchurch Cathedral to be rebuilt

16th August 2017 - New Christchurch Metro Sports facility to feature aquatic sensory room

12th September 2016 - New Christchurch Metro Sports Facility to be largest aquatic and recreation centre in New Zealand

22nd February 2016 - Five years on Christchurch marks earthquake anniversary

31st December 2015 - Christchurch leisure pool closes for post earthquake repairs

12th August 2015 - Funding parameters agreed for Christchurch Metro Sports Facility

4th March 2014 - Christchurch advances plans for post-earthquake sports hub

19th April 2012 - QEII Park and Recreation Centre to be demolished

10th March 2012 - Christchurch begins earthquake repairs begin on community facilities

29th July 2011 - YMCA of Christchurch to reopen after February earthquake

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