State of play
By Janie Smith When it comes to playgrounds, newer is not necessarily better.
Auckland city’s playgrounds are being progressively upgraded to more modern equipment.
So the Auckland City Harbour News sent out three experts to test one of the best and one of the worst, and give their verdict on which was the most fun.
Six-year-old Jemma Oxenham, her sister Holly, 3, and four-year-old Liam McCracken inspected Harbutt play- ground in Mt Albert and Pt Chevalier’s Coyle Park playground.
Harbutt has the highest rating from the Auckland City Council and Coyle Park the lowest.
But our panel picked older Coyle Park playground as a clear favourite.
Holly immediately found a flaw in Harbutt playground with the lack of public toilets.
Searching the local area for a suitable facility cut into valuable playtime, but Harbutt had some redeeming features.
“The slides go very fast,” says Liam. “I like the big slide because it goes the fastest.”
The climbing wall was also a hit with Liam and Jemma, but Liam pointed out there were only two swings.
Holly enjoyed the merry-go-round and the wobbly bridge was given a thumbs-up by all three experts.
“They should add a see-saw,” says Jemma.
But Coyle Park playground impressed with its greater size and extra swings.
“It’s bigger and there are more fun things,” says Jemma.
The see-saw, which can be operated by one person, was a favourite with Liam, who also tried out the tunnel slide.
“I like this slide better than the other slides,” he says.
A new layer of bark had raised the ground level, making equipment like the wobbly bridge less enjoyable, but the fireman’s pole was still high enough to slide down.
Coyle Park was a clear favourite with the girls, but Liam was equally impressed with both facilities.
The Auckland City Council rates its playgrounds from level one, being in excellent condition, to a level five, which is nearing the end of its life and needs replacing.
Auckland has 10 level five playgrounds.
Playgrounds in Celtic Reserve in Ellerslie, Surfdale Reserve on Waiheke and Moira Reserve in Ponsonby are due to be upgraded in the current financial year.
Swings rated level four at the Anderson Park, Fearon Park and Robinson Reserve playgrounds will also be replaced.
Park services manager Mark Bowater says $240,000 has been allocated for the upgrades and $300,000 was spent on playgrounds last financial year.
He says the council is always looking for new equipment and play modules to bring in.
When a new playground is designed the council tries to get feedback from children in the area about what they would like.
“We’re in discussion with suppliers about potential new pieces.”
Super saw: Liam McCracken plays on the Coyle Park see-saw.
Favourite equipment: Holly Oxenham, 3, takes the merry-go-round for a spin at Harbutt.
Speed wobble: Liam McCracken, 4, on the Harbutt playground wobbly bridge.
All together: From left: Jemma Oxenham, Liam McCracken and Holly Oxenham go for a swing at Coyle Park.
Hanging around: Liam McCracken enjoys the Coyle Park climbing frame.
Fast ride: Jemma Oxenham, 6, tries out the slide at Harbutt playground.