News | 24 August 2023
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Challenge accepted: Young trio visit all 107 Pōneke playgrounds

Thorndon School students Charlotte, Violet, and Ana are Wellington’s newest playground experts after they set out on a mission to play at all 107 playgrounds and play areas across the city.

Three girls standing on equipment at a playground.

Over six months they visited the different playgrounds, from Tawa to Island Bay, most days after school and on the weekends.
Charlotte’s mum Nikki came up with the idea because they like challenges as a family and this was an opportunity to help them explore Wellington, she says.
“Charlotte loves going to playgrounds and so do her friends, so we thought we should try do something to explore them together. We probably had about 20 children and parents join in along the way. It was fun coming up with our plan of attack and rules for this playground challenge with children.”
Nikki carefully mapped out every playground from the Council website in a spreadsheet and made a plan around how they could efficiently visit and rank each play area.
“We would spend seven minutes at each. That was just enough time for them to enjoy it and try all the equipment, or not get bored. We rated playgrounds and play areas out of 30. A maximum of five points for different things. We had ratings for things like how busy they were or what equipment they had. We tried to visit as many playgrounds as we could in one suburb if they were five or so minutes away.”
Each of the children, aged between 9 and 12, had their own things they were looking out for. Charlotte was all about the monkey bars. Ana was keen on finding the best firefighter pole. Violet kept an eye on good flying foxes and “the eggs you sit in on an angle and spin around.”

Three girls standing and sitting on top of a piece of playground equipment.
Roseneath Park Playground.

Out of all the playgrounds they visited, Violet “looooved the pirate ship" in Hataitai, while Charlotte enjoyed Grasslees Reserve where they “played in the spinny mouse wheel for soooo long!".
The tamariki ranked Mahoe Street in Tawa as the "worst playground" as it had very basic equipment and was basically "just a hill!' But Ana says it's one redeeming feature was that "it would be really good for cricket". It's no surprise, this play area has been decommissioned as a playground! 

Wellington City Council Play Spaces Specialist Matthew Beres is thrilled to see Tamariki enjoying playgrounds around the city.

“Council aim to inspire children to play in many different ways throughout the city, including in parks, reserves, beaches and sports grounds. We understand the importance of play for children everyday, in their own way, and the need for children to have a say in how their spaces are designed.

“Thanks so much to these awesome students for giving them a try and dedicating the time to do this.”

Here are their results.

Three young girls sitting on a slide and smiling.
Roseneath Park Playground.

Best playgrounds and play areas in the city:

  • Churchill Park – Situated by the beach in Seatoun, this playground has an epic pirate ship and easy access to the beach.
  • Karori Play Area – This community playground has been refreshed and rocks some cool equipment, like a nest swing.
  • Pirie Street Play Area – Close to the Mount Victoria tunnel, this play area has the perfect balance of green area to play in and a playground for children.
  • Warwick Street – This playground in Wilton has just had a renewal, and has heaps of exciting new additions, including a basket swing seat.
  • Grasslees Reserve – There’s plenty to do and see in the area with a playground, gardens, a dog exercise area, electric barbecues and Tawa Pool. There’s a fun mouse wheel and spinning seat!
  • Jim Belich – This Island Bay playground focuses on accessibility which allows for children to move easily around the area. There’s a great flying fox and a skate park.
  • Carrara Park – This spot in Newtown has it all, flying foxes, a fenced off toddler area, a double bay swing, a ferret climbing structure and great monkey bars.
Two girls playing on a spinning piece of equipment in a playground.
Roseneath Park Playground.

Top-rated features:

  • Best obstacle course set up – Amesbury Drive
  • Best theme Treasure Island ship – Treasure Island Play Area in Hataitai
  • Best all green colour – Taylor Park
  • Best view – Homebush Road Play Area
  • Best slide – The Cresent in Roseneath followed closely by Nairnville Park
  • Best flying fox – Botanical Garden ki Paekākā and Karori Play area
  • Best nest swing and stepping block area – Wall Park
  • Worst playground –  Mahoe Street in Tawa
  • Worst use of a gate – Quebec Street
  • Best monkey bars -  Pirie Street
  • Two purple dinosaurs at Creswick Terrace and Wilberforce
  • Best seesaw – Khandallah park (4 person) and Chelsea Street (2 person)
  • Best Ropes course – Cumming Park

Find out more about our playgrounds and play areas on our website, or see our online map of all playground locations