City: Auckland

Local Board: Rodney

Playground Safari visit: January 2017

We first visited this playground when our children were three year olds, and they were quite frustrated because they were slightly too small for some of the equipment, and slightly too big for other stuff. However, after a few people had suggested it for the Fenced Playgrounds list I decided to visit it again with four year olds. I’m so glad that we did – the kids had an absolute blast! This is a great playground for preschoolers, instead of toddlers: perfectly pitched to them, and with enough things to be fun and a wee bit challenging, but not frustratingly difficult (they tend to get pretty annoyed if they’re confronted with too much ‘big kid’ stuff). My daughter was delighted with herself as she leapt from block to block, showing off her balancing skills:

I loved that things like the monkey bars are nice and low – as four year olds my kids were really keen to try this kind of thing, but were often put off by the possible fall to the ground when they saw high bars at most playgrounds:

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It’s also great that the playground is on several levels, so there is enough to keep younger toddlers entertained as they navigate their way up and down (and there’s both a little slide and a big covered slide, which is nice):

And the setting is lovely, right next to the river:

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And the sensible presence of the fencing – secure, unclimbable by your typical young child, and locked down with two gates that aren’t openable by little hands – is fully justified when you see how close the river actually is:

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The playground is close to local cafes, and has the public toilets right outside the fenced area – super handy. But there always seems to be a compromise, and for this playground the issue is (once again) shade. We were there just before midday, and it was baking hot, with virtually no shade. There is one small shade sail, but it shelters caregivers, rather than the children playing – surely a case of misplaced priorities?

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There’s precious little tree shade over the playground as well – perhaps some in the late afternoon, in one corner only:

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After 20 minutes or so we were all far too hot to keep playing, so we walked along the river for a couple of hundred metres, and then stopped at a cafe for lunch. And on the way home we stopped at Parry Kauri Park for a lovely, shady, 20 minute bush walk – highly recommended, and easy for three year olds and older.

The verdict: This is a fantastic, safe, purpose-designed playground for ‘little big kids’, but take a lot of sunscreen on a hot day!