Blokart Heaven, New Zealand’s only land-yachting track at Papamoa, is now offering a bundle of outdoor activities – with appeal to all ages.
Blokart Heaven - described as the place where sailing meets the speedway - is the original home of the unique land sailers and inventor Paul Beckett. The tar- sealed purpose built track draws everyone from locals to tourists to corporate and school groups. On windy days the track hums with action, as the karts blast around the course. It’s what happens when the wind drops that inspired Richard and Karlene Brown to expand the venue’s activities.
The pair have introduced combat laser tag, and laser clay bird under the name Game On Activities, to make it three-in-one venue no longer wind-dependent, with a choice of action sports. “If there’s no wind there’s no sailing,” says Richard, “and we were forever getting larger groups of people coming out and finding they just sat still on the tarmac...so we thought we’d offer them something else that everybody could do.”
Laser tag, imported from the U.K., has been described as taking a virtual reality computer game out of doors and making it a reality. Players are each armed a gun that sends out an infra red beam, and wear a special helmet rigged with lights and ‘bells.’ Eight to 20 players stalk each other in a special arena - two acres of eucalypt trees with about 120 hideouts scattered around it (‘hide if you can, or be on attack’).
The gun fires virtual machine gun rounds and can also launch hand grenades, a lot of fun for both young and old. When you’re hit, a signal sets off lights in the helmet, and some ‘bells and whistles,’ says Richard, “So at night-time you look like a walking fire engine.”
Richard Brown argues that unlike paint ball, laser tag is relatively inexpensive on a family budget at $10 a head for half an hour - and it doesn’t hurt. It’s suitable for everything from the eight year old’s birthday party to a corporate outing. “At the end of the day what we’re trying to achieve out here both with the laser tag and the laser clay birds is family-economical fun.”
The clay bird shooting, also priced at $10 per person, is a new twist on a very traditional sport. Players are issued with shotguns that look and feel exactly like the real thing. The guns do go ‘bang,’ but without the recoil of real shotgun firing a live round, which makes the activity family-friendly.
Each gun is programmed so that hits – with an infra-red beam - are recorded on an electronic scoreboard with speakers. When you hit the clay it will “shatter,” but the clays are picked up and used again. Up to five players (minimum three) compete not only against themselves, but against their mates as well.
The virtual clay bird shooting can also be used by serious shooters in training for the Olympics or other competition, Richard points out, because with noise controls, getting the necessary consents to fire live rounds close to cities is becoming a lot more difficult. The ‘bang’ produced by the guns can be turned up or down.
It’s a game that’s completely transportable as well, with an indoor system which can be taken to a customer’s home. The claybird system can be run in a room only five metres square, using sensors mounted on the wall. Out of doors, you can play “urban games,” as long as there is enough room for the clay birds to land on.
Laser tag and laser clay bird shooting tend to appeal to two different types of person, says Richard, for weight reasons you need to be a little older to hold the shotgun, while anyone who can carry the 2 kg laser tag gun can play. Game On is already pulling customers at the weekends in particular, says Richard, drawn to “affordable family fun.”