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Hanmer Springs High Speed Broadband

Hanmer Springs New Zealand Fly In

Last year, Telecom's network arm Chorus committed $1.4 billion to getting high-speed broadband connections to 80 per cent of New Zealanders by 2012. The four-year regional plan also includes Timaru, Ashburton, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Lyttelton, Prebbleton, Templeton, Diamond Harbour, Governors Bay, Temuka, Waimate, Rolleston, Geraldine, Lincoln, Woodend, Darfield, Amberley, Leeston, Methven, Oxford, Akaroa, Pleasant Point, Hanmer Springs and Fairlie.

Ohoka to get speedy net first

Ohoka has landed rural Canterbury's first access to a new high-speed broadband internet network.

The Waimakariri township's service will be upgraded on March 30, with Loburn, north of Rangiora, to follow four weeks later. Some Christchurch suburbs are already connected. So, individuals who rely on the Internet for office work will be able to enjoy a greatly improved Internet connection.

Chorus spokesman Robin Kelly said priority went to densely populated areas and broadband "black spots".

"It's a huge amount of investment and a huge programme.

"It's leading-edge technology and all home grown in New Zealand."

Chorus would work with the remaining 20 per cent -- communities with fewer than 500 telephone lines -- to find the next best solution.

Kelly said there was a perception fixed-line broadband was the only option, when mobile, satellite and wireless alternatives were often available. Rolleston residents waiting up to six months on slower dial-up connections have been promised broadband by the end of April.

The Selwyn District Council had lobbied Chorus to address the waiting list of 13 Rolleston residents .

The council's information technology manager, Neil Cookson, said the high-growth Lincoln-Rolleston area would need to be monitored.

Kelly said Chorus tried to forecast demand.

About 40 residents at Birdlings Flat petitioned Chorus for fixed-line broadband access, but were told service could not be provided.

Lack of coverage for the newest third-generation (3G) cellular network ruled out the mobile option.

Petition author David Gilbert was annoyed neighbouring Tai Tapu and Little River could access fixed-line broadband, while they could not.

"Little River has it, which is a smaller settlement than we are. Does the fact they've got two cafes and a gift shop make them a priority?"

Selwyn MP Amy Adams said a lack of broadband and mobile coverage often went together. Access in rural areas needed to be looked at "community by community", she said.

Recreational Aircraft Association of New Zealand Fly-in
Fly the the length of New Zealand via Hanmer Springs

Lightweight aircraft made from materials ranging from cloth to high-tech carbon touched down at Motueka over the weekend for the Recreational Aircraft Association of New Zealand Fly-in.

The annual event drew 76 aircraft from Northland to Invercargill but the prize for the most determined pilot went to Caroline Trevilla of Rangiora whose 30-year-old Thruster microlight has a top speed of more than 80kmh. She took her open-cockpit aircraft up to 10,000 feet (about 3000 metres) where she was helped along by a tailwind.

The trip took her 4 1/2 hours at about minus 7 degrees celsius, including refuelling stops at Hanmer Springs and Mountain Station.

Trevor Leighton of the Nelson Microlight Club, which hosted the event, said it was a huge success, with good weather and Nelson's scenery attracting more aircraft than had been expected.

He was impressed by the skills of the pilots, who took part in events like airborne orienteering and precision-landing competitions.

One highlight was the bombing-run competition, where pilots took turns dropping sandbags from no lower than 250 feet (76m) on a car parked at the aerodrome.

Despite the pilots' skill, only one scored a hit. "We're not going to win a war," said Mr Leighton.

The event drew thousands of spectators from Thursday to Sunday. The Nelson Air Cadets helped run the event and did a fantastic job, said Mr Leighton.

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