We are currently in the design stage to create a unique destination playground on our waterfront where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy spending time, connect with nature and celebrate our city’s rich culture and history.
During September we asked what ideas people had for the playground and what activities people would like to see in the different play zones. This feedback is now being collated and provided to our designers who will be looking at how they can incorporate these ideas and feedback into the final design.
We are working alongside landscape architecture firms Beca and Aspect Studios to design and build this playground.
The playground is a key part of the waterfront transformation
We’re revitalising the waterfront in our city centre, to help get the heart of our city pumping again, so it becomes a place where people from near and far want to live, learn, work and play.
The new playground is one of many exciting projects happening along our waterfront so people can enjoy these community spaces and better connect with the harbour and other parts of the city centre. Next to the playground, the northern area of The Strand is set become a green reserve, creating opportunities for people to attend large scale events, have a picnic with the whānau or kick a ball around with friends, with the beautiful backdrop that is Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour.
In addition to the new reserve, some of the other projects that have already been completed or are underway along the waterfront include the upgrade of Dive Crescent car park and the newly renovated Cargo Shed, along with the refurbishment of Beacon Wharf and a new railway underpass and pathway linking the waterfront boardwalk from the southern end of The Strand through to Elizabeth Street.
The new playground would replace the current playground and extend further north. It’s set to be a star attraction for our littlest people, with one-of-a-kind experiences to explore and discover. The initial design for the playground will see it double in size from the existing one and include four different zones for play: a waka tower structure; an elevated walkway; a water play zone; and a nature play zone. These zones are inspired by Tauranga’s unique cultural history, and what makes this place special to us all.
Along with the neighbouring green reserve, there are additional plans for new public toilet & changing amenities adjacent to the new playground.
And just in case you’re wondering, our treasured sculptures of Hairy Maclary and his friends won’t be going anywhere – they’ll be sticking around for all the fun!
Waterfront playground concept plan
Proposed play zones
In the centre of the playground will be the ‘Waka Tower’, inspired by the legendary Tākitimu waka, which was one of the great Māori waka to arrive from Polynesia to Tauranga Moana’s waterfront. This location became popular for many explorers – with stories from our past recalling hundreds of different types of waka along the shoreline. The waka tower will provide wonderful opportunities for children to climb and play with children aged from around 4-12 relishing the challenges it will offer.
An elevated walkway with ramp access will weave through the whole playground. It will be a way to access the higher levels of the playground as well as enjoy views of the harbour, the port, trains and Mauao. The walkway will be lit up at night, inspired by the Milky Way – the galaxy of stars that stretch across our sky and provide a signal to ocean navigators as they arrive in Aotearoa. The Milky Way Play Zone is underneath the walkway through the whole playground where there are lots of unique, sheltered spaces for play underneath ‘the stars’.
A special Nature Play Zone will give children the chance to explore and celebrate nature, like those that arrived on our waterfront many years ago. Logs, rocks and plants are some of the natural elements for play to inspire children’s imagination. Smaller towers will provide a climbing experience for younger children reflecting the design of the main waka tower.
We will be celebrating our city’s strong connection to water with a special Water Play Zone. The play experience will reflect the natural springs in this area that provided our ancestors with abundant drinking water and attracted Kahawai fish to the harbour. Children will be able to explore and play with water - splashing, pouring and moving through water. This zone will be designed to meet New Zealand playground safety standards, providing non-slip play surfaces.
Accessibility & Safety
Accessible routes are planned throughout the playground so children of all abilities can enjoy their time exploring the different play zones. Each play zone will offer accessible options for children with different abilities, so everyone gets a great experience together in the same space. A new accessible public toilet facility is also being planned, adjacent and integrated with the playground.
Like the current playground, the new waterfront playground will not be fenced so everyone can enjoy this space freely. Visual and physical elements will be incorporated in the design to provide some soft barriers, such as seating, planters and landscaping. The current railway line fencing will remain in place and landscaping features will provide additional separation from the playground.
Making it easy for as many people as possible to access and use the playground is really important to us and is a key consideration in our design.