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.