Frank Kitts Park and Te Aro Mahana playspace

This popular inner-city park has an open space area, amphitheatre-style seating, sculptures and cafes.

Location: Wellington waterfront | View map

Brief description: The park:

  • tiered amphitheatre-style seating area for picnics and small outdoor events – find out about booking an outdoor event via our form
  • a newly developed playspace - Te Aro Mahana
  • an interactive play waka - Whetuu Maarama
  • and the following artworks:
    • Albatross sculpture (Tanya Ashken)
    • Fruits of the Garden sculpture (Paul Dibble)
    • Water Whirler sculpture (Len Lye)
    • Sundial (Charles Stone)

Accessibility: Most of the park is flat. There are steps and a ramp linking upper and lower parts of the park. 

Dogs: Dogs must be kept on a leash, except for the children’s play area where they are not allowed at all.

History: Prior to land reclamation, which took place from 1970-1973, the Frank Kitts Park site was on the doorstep of Te Aro Pā, a rich food gathering area. More recently it was part of the commercial port, which meant public access was not permitted. In the late 1980’s the park as we know it today was developed for public use, as the land was no longer required by the Wellington Harbour Board for commercial port purposes. 

The design of the park was heavily influenced by the annual street car race that ran through the area at that time. The seaside promenade was the start grid for the race and is the reason why the promenade is flanked by a high wall on its city side – to ensure spectator safety.

The park was named after the city’s mayor Sir Francis Joseph Kitts.

Management and development of the park is guided by the Wellington Waterfront Framework. The park is managed by the Parks, Sport and Recreation unit at Wellington City Council. 

Te Aro Mahana playspace

The original playground at Frank Kitts Park was built in 1989 and has been Wellington’s most popular spot to play over the years. It was closed for redevelopment in 2016.

After delays due to several factors including liquidation of the original contractor, rising inflation and other cost pressures, the project was restarted in 2023 with a more modest design.

The new playspace has been designed as a series of interconnected play areas within a maritime and coastal landscape theme. The area includes a brand-new safer lighthouse with the refurbished original cupola dome, a series of climbing nets and swing sets, and a shaded seating area.

There is also a new interactive waka that lies at the heart of the rejuvenated space, named Whetuu Maarama. It is a reminder of the importance of waka in our history – not just as vessels of transport, but as keepers of stories, technology, and traditions. The use of double vowels in its name also reflects the artist’s intention for the waka to be a connector of past, present, and future. The waka was crafted by artist Matthew McIntyre-Wilson (Taranaki, Ngā Māhanga, and Titahi).

Mana whenua - Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika has gifted the new playspace the name Te Aro Mahana. The name acknowledges the site’s enduring connection to Te Aro Pā by remembering the warmth and sense of belonging for Taranaki iwi to ancestral land.

Te Aro Mahana and Whetuu Maarama were opened at an official dawn blessing on Thursday 29 February 2024 with Mayor Tory Whananu and mana whenua representatives.

Fale Malae proposal

Visit Kōrero Mai | Let's Talk to find out how we’re engaging with key stakeholders and the broader Wellington community on the proposed Fale Malae in Frank Kitts Park.