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Wellington has some 50 well equipped public playgrounds - many located in some of the city's most scenic areas, such as the waterfront, Oriental Bay and Botanic Gardens. Many are also conveniently located close to great cafes and gelaterias. Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the best Wellington playgrounds.
One of the most popular playgrounds in the city, Frank Kitts is known for its huge lighthouse slide. There's also swings, a climbing structure and spring ride-ons for younger ones. It's also in the heart of all the waterfront activity, especially on weekends, when you'll be able to buy an icecream from the nearby van, and might even see a helicopter take off from the wharf opposite.
A huge rope climbing frame is a feature that will delight 5-and-ups and put a lump in throats of nervous parents. Either side of that is a toddler-sized slide-&-tunnel and a large and varied climbing platform. Best of all, it's located next to on a mini-beach built with sand especially barged in from Golden Bay, alongside the famous Boat Cafe (it's an actual tugboat), should coffee be required. With comfortable grassed area facing the harbour and Oriental Bay fountain, its a beautiful spot for fish & chips on a summer's evening, which can be fetched from the nearby Mt Vic Chippery.
This playground has plenty of big and exciting slides, ride-ons and climbers. There's a pair of long slides with a tunnels over the top half, that are reached by a good platform climb, a four-armed 'octopus' ride on (pivots around and in and out from a central pole), and a flying fox. Space Place at Carter Observatory and Wellington Cable Car are just a little further up the hill, meaning a whole day can be built around it.
Tucked away without much signage, Homebush Rd playground is a well-kept secret, cherished by parents in the hill suburb of Khandallah. See-saw, spiderweb climber and a slide-&-tunnel platform structure keep the wee ones busy, and parents will love the incredible panoramic views right across Wellington Harbour, from Hutt Valley to the CBD.
A recent refit means the playground at Ben Burn Park has a great set of modern equipment for both toddlers and older kids. It's also a fairly sheltered spot on a windy day, (especially northerlies), has heaps of free parking and is close to Karori shopping centre.
Beachside Shorland Park has a bit of an old-school feel, with large open spaces to run around, swings, a long slide, pirate ship, concrete tunnels, a band rotunda and wood-based climbing structures. It also has great parking, and, in an awesome, rarely seen touch, a wheelchair accessible 'liberty swing'.
A very well-designed little playground, Wadestown has a great climbing platform with suspended tunnel, bridge, slides, mini flying fox and more. Add swings, see-saws, a big metal slide across the park and covered picnic table it's a playground with depth that the kids can explore for a good length of time. The entire park is also fully fenced and gated, so you can relax and let them run free.
If you're heading into the Hutt Valley, make a detour to Avalon Park. A series of playground areas with equipment for all ages, surrounded by grassy parkland it's a great place to stop for a picnic. A big old-school wooden fort sits on an 'island' in a picturesque pond, various climbers and swings have the older ones covered, while wee ones get a substantial area all to themselves, surrounded by a white picket fence.
The leafy suburb of Thorndon hides one of the prettiest parks in the city. Although there may not be as much equipment as some other playgrounds, the setting is beautiful, with trees and a scented garden alongside. Plus the disc swing, where a grown up and a kid can easily lie together and rock, is worth the visit on its own. Perfect for younger families, while kids 8+ might not find enough gear to keep their interest for long.
Set your GPS or grab a map to make your way to the end of Highbury Rd, because what you'll find is well worth the effort. Open spaces, plus swings and a great range of entertaining and physically challenging equipment. Not your usual stuff. There's even play equipment clearly designed to get adults in on the fun, like the overhead grinder that travels along a rail.
The playground is also beautifully situated, sheltered from pretty much all prevailing winds and backing on to the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, meaning you'll likely see kaka and other native birdlife in the surrounding trees.