Natural play areas

Our parks and reserves offer a different kind of adventure. No equipment needed – just bring your imagination.

Wellington has everything from rugged coasts to sandy beaches, thick woodland to wide open spaces, high hilltops to trickling streams. Giving our tamariki the freedom to play in nature has been proven to have huge benefits like building confidence, encouraging physical activity and reducing stress.

Nature Play map

To help you find some hidden gems around the city we have developed a Nature Play map where you can find safe and accessible places for kids to explore and play in.

Visit our online map

Things to do in nature

We’ve put together a few of our favourite play ideas for you to try in and around your home or local reserve:

Wellington Nature Scavenger hunt  (114KB PDF)

Nature play is here to stay (800KB PDF)

Nature challenge sheet (375KB PDF)

Here are some other fun ideas and activities to do together when you are out in nature:

  • Build a fort with sticks
  • Find four different coloured leaves
  • Take off your shoes and walk barefoot
  • Spot a native bird
  • Plant a seed and watch it grow 
  • Visit somewhere with a hill to climb and get a view 
  • Seek out hiding spots 
  • Climb trees
  • Splash or swim in the water
  • Have a picnic in your favourite nature spot 
  • Play hide and seek
  • Scramble across rocks
  • Find creatures and interesting seaweed in water
  • Search for colourful stones, gems, shells, or feathers
  • Create a piece of art out of stones, leaves, flowers  and other treasures
  • Explore rock pools
  • Slide down a grass slope on cardboard or roll down a small grass hill
  • Float leaves and sticks (or make a boat) downstream
  • Find leaf skeletons
  • Make a daisy chain
  • Make sand castles 
  • Look to see what bugs you have in your garden or a park

In New Zealand we are blessed with having no real nasties in our natural environments so there is no need to worry too much about your little explorers but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Remember to respect our natural environment. Watch carefully and quietly. If you lift a stone to see what’s underneath, make sure you carefully put it back down.
  • Remember to wash your hands before you eat. 

Want more info on Nature Play? Check out these handy resources that may help inspire your tamariki: