City: Auckland

Local Board: Devonport-Takapuna

Playground Safari visit: January 2017

When we visited this playground with two four year olds in January 2017 we were really excited at first: it was fully fenced, and there was a lovely-looking, colourful playground waiting to be discovered!

photo-30-01-17-2

However, my kids – who fully embraced their roles as playground testers for the nation’s small children – discovered that they could easily reach over the fence and unlatch the gate themselves. This was the latch, which is easy to open even if your children are like mine and have never actually attempted to open a gate before:

photo-30-01-17-8

I was both mildly horrified and begrudgingly impressed by their rapid gate-opening skills, so I asked them for a demonstration:

 

And once we got to the playground we realised that, while it looks lovely and colourful, there actually wasn’t much for a couple of four year olds to do. There’s a seesaw (which my two didn’t go near – one twin outweighs the other by four kilos, making seesaws very frustrating for all concerned); one big kids’ swing; and a single preschooler-friendly climbing structure and slide:

There were also a few abstract climbing boxes that would probably keep younger children entertained in the very short term:

photo-30-01-17-9

And the whole playground is nicely set in the Reserve, with plenty of space to play:

This means that there is nothing to keep dogs away from the playground – and I don’t remember seeing a sign about keeping dogs out, either. We rented a house down the road from Seine Reserve in 2011, and I used to play fetch with my dog there, and I’m 99% sure that there was a fence separating the playground from the rest of the Reserve then. So, while it’s lovely that there is a lot of grass available for ball games and general running around now, the trade off is a lack of dog-related protection.

More playground-specific: the biggest structures in the playground are designed for older children:

So – like at Windy Ridge Reserve – this seems to be a playground that has been fenced, despite being primarily designed for children who are old enough not to need fencing around their playgrounds. In this case it seems particularly odd to fence a playground aimed for older kids, given that a) there’s no primary school nearby, and b) there’s a kindergarten immediately next door to Seine Reserve.

Looking beyond the play equipment, there are a couple of seating options for caregivers, and a rubbish bin right by the playground, but once again there is virtually no shade – just a random, tiny, shade sail covering an equally tiny raised platform:

photo-30-01-17-6

And the tree shade in the Reserve is far away from the play equipment. However, it provided a scenic spot for an emergency al fresco potty break…

The verdict: This is a nice local playground, but it doesn’t really offer much to keep preschoolers busy. And while it’s great to see some fencing, in this case it is of limited effectiveness when it’s so low, and with gates that are so easy to open. And the lack of shade is a big problem!