Our playgrounds ‘a winner’
Could Hamilton city have the best playgrounds in New Zealand?
After spending millions of dollars on seven Destination Playgrounds with eight more to come, the expectation is that our city should have superior locations for families to enjoy compared to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Designing and developing playgrounds is becoming big busi- ness for councils looking outside the square to create unique spaces to engage the public.
Former Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker and Hamilton West councillor Angela O’Leary believe the millions invested has put the city ahead of its larger counterparts. It’s also added to the city’s tourism pull.
Destination Playgrounds differ from traditional playgrounds in that they offer creative equipment designed to be fun and challenging.
Hamilton City Council spent about $6.5m on the three most recent Destination Playgrounds, including Dominion Park ($1.1m - $250,000 externally funded), Hamilton Gardens ($1m, entirely externally funded) and Minogue Park playground ($380,000, $100,000 externally funded).
The new facilities fall under Hamilton’s Playgrounds of the Future Plan, which won a New Zealand Recreation Association Award in 2015.
With a designated and commit- ted plan, Hamilton looks to be leading the way when it comes to inventive play equipment.
O’Leary said it puts the city on a fast track to success.
‘‘Surely we are leading the country,’’ she said.
‘‘We are a young city with lots of families. It’s just a winner and it’s a tangible thing; ratepayers can see exactly what they’re getting.’’
For O’Leary, the newest Destination Playground in the Hamilton Gardens is her favourite.
The million-dollar playground has a giant earthworm tunnel slide, bird houses and the Jade Dragon Theatre, a colourful stage for children to perform on.
‘‘It’s really important for a city to be successful and offer free activities for families,’’ O’Leary said.
‘‘The next step is the adult playgrounds.’’
The playground plan was developed under the baton of former mayor Julie Hardaker.
HAMILTON: Nicole Webb, 7, was one of the first to test the new Destination Playground at Hamilton Gardens which opened in December. It features a garden theme and the Jade Dragon Theatre as its centepiece.
PHOTO: TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ AUCKLAND: The playground at Parrs Park, Oratia, was opened in 2014. It features a high tower and a giant birds nest as well as sand and water play.