Big plans for city playgrounds
When researching possible playground opportunities, Hardaker had a good look across other New Zealand towns and Australia to see what playground designs were working there.
Now it’s hard for her to choose a favourite Destination Playground in Hamilton because they are all unique.
‘‘You could go to three in a day and they’ll all be different,’’ she said.
Hardaker believes the Destination Playgrounds are another family attraction for visitors to Hamilton. As a city, we underestimate our range of outdoor activities, she said.
‘‘I do think we’ve got the best playground opportunities in major cities across New Zealand.
‘‘There is no other city in New Zealand that has got a programme like Hamilton’s Destination Playgrounds.’’
There are six other destination playgrounds at Dominion Park, Hamilton Lake Domain, Parana Park, Claudelands Park, Tauhara Park and Minogue Park.
Hamilton Mayor Andrew King said the fact that no playground was the same was fantastic.
‘‘They’re not a replica,’’ he said. ‘‘I haven’t seen anything better in the quantity that we have them.’’
Personally, he likes Nawton playground best.
‘‘On the opening day there was probably five times as many children as there were adults. Bare feet, they were in short sleeves, the kids were happy.
‘‘They were standing in line for free ice cream, (there was) rain, and nobody complained. It was a really good atmosphere.’’
And though King doesn’t mind sharing the playgrounds with visitors, he likes the thought that they are here for the Hamilton people.
‘‘It doesn’t matter if you have access to money or not. They’re not something for an elite group. the
‘‘They’re for the kids of Hamilton, the parents of Hamilton, the grandparents of Hamilton.’’
Hamilton City Council parks and open spaces manager Sally Sheedy said the council’s approach has been to work closely with selected landscape architects whose expertise allow them to make the most of the sites.
They also ask for feedback from the local community on what they would like to see in a playground.
Sheedy said each playground and location was unique in terms of budget, therefore the price ranges depending on facilities already in the park and the proposed size of the playground.
The two recent Destination Playground developments in Hamilton Gardens and Dominion Park had a budget of $1m, includ- ing associated facilities such as toilets and car parking.
They also receive financial support from philanthropic funding organisations who contribute to the developments, Sheedy said.
Hamilton also has 76 neighbourhood playgrounds. With the focus on Playgrounds of the Future, a small number of existing neighbourhood playgrounds will be phased out, based on aging equipment and new playgrounds being developed close by.
‘‘They're for the kids of Hamilton, the parents of Hamilton, the grandparents of Hamilton.’’
However, Sheedy said the remaining neighbourhood playgrounds will still continue to be maintained and renewed as required.
‘‘Council has a focus on making Hamilton great for families and our Destination Playgrounds certainly reflect that.
‘‘We have been doing surveys of families using our playgrounds to gain insight into the ones they enjoy the most and what they like about them.
‘‘Certainly the Lake Domain Destination Playground has been very popular, while Parana Park is very busy in the summer as it’s suitable for families with very young children. The water feature is a particular attraction.’’
Hamilton City Council understands that as Hamilton’s population grows, so will the population of young people who will use these facilities.
The Playgrounds of the Future plan is important as the increase of higher-density living needs to be complemented by familyfriendly green spaces.