The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

Pun­net Café at Tama­here, just south of Hamil­ton, has great coffee and food, but it’s the kids who are clam­our­ing to visit. In a stroke of ge­nius, the own­ers have con­structed an ad­ven­ture play­ground that in­cludes a boat, a train, a plane and a rus­tic log cabin, all within watchdis­tance of the ta­bles, which are filled with mums and dads. 337 Newell Road, (07) 838 1901

At Hamil­ton Lake (Lake Ro­toroa to give it its proper name), the play date des­ti­na­tion of choice for city kids is the newly con­structed tree-house-style fort, com­plete with tun­nels, climb­ing ropes, a fly­ing fox and a wa­ter-play sys­tem in which kids can op­er­ate gates and taps to man­age the flow. The lake has al­ways been one of Hamil­ton’s best-kept secrets and has mainly been fa­mous among kids for duck-feed­ing. No more. The tow­er­ing fort, which ri­vals the lav­ish lake­side real es­tate, has put the lake on lit­tle peo­ple’s wish-lists. Sim­i­lar play­grounds are planned through­out the city.

Other havens for small peo­ple and their min­ders are Claude­lands Park, where there is an ex­cel­lent fly­ing fox and climb­ing net and the Pot­ter Chil­dren’s Play­ground at Parana Park. The park was be­queathed to the city by 19th-cen­tury bene­fac­tor Ge­orge Parr, whose orig­i­nal vi­sion was for a play area for sick chil­dren.

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