When it comes to places to take your little ones to for a play there is ample choice in Whangarei. With 36 playgrounds and 4 skateboard parks scattered around the district, there is bound to be something close to you. The Whangarei District Council aims to have a playground within 500 metres of each resident to ensure even those without transport can easily make use of the facilities.
However, not all playgrounds are the same. Safety, age-appropriate equipment, facilities and protection from the elements are just some of the features local playgrounds are being judged on. Here is a list of the 10 best playgrounds in Whangarei and surrounding areas.
Situated close to Whangarei CBD on the corner of SH1 and Central Ave, Mander Park playground has recently undergone major upgrades. The new design incorporates ideas submitted by children and caters for all age groups from toddlers to school children. There varying levels of challenging climbing equipment, swings and a seesaw. Public toilets, benches and a picnic table are close by and there is a large grass area for summer picnics. Though not fenced, the playground is in good distance to the main road and fairly safe if children are properly supervised.
Probably the most frequented playground in town, the facilities at the Whangarei Town Basin are used almost daily by locals and visitors driving through. With shops, toilets and the popular Hatea Loop track nearby it’s no surprise, though concerned parents have been trying to get fencing for the playground for years. Located between the Hatea River and a busy car park, it doesn’t stop families from enjoying the numerous play activities on offer. Shade sails in summer are provided and there is a free BBQ available.
At the bottom of Rurumoki Street, this playground is at the entrance to the award-winning Mair Park and Parihaka Reserve. Though more suitable for older children, the park offers a large area to run around and explore, public toilets are available and the walk to the Hatea River is pushchair friendly. Little ones love feeding the ducks before or after their play time. It’s a great starting point for walks up Mount Parihaka or following the river to the Whangarei Falls.
This large playground in Maunu offers a slide, swings and various climbing equipment for older children. Located on Puriri Park Road, the unfenced playground is next to a quiet side street as well as Puriri Park Reserve. No public toilets, but lots of space to run around, play ball games or take the dog for a walk.
Right in the heart of Whangarei CBD, Laurie Hall playground offers mostly climbing challenges for older children as well as a few swing sets. Shade sails in summer are provided, though there are no public toilets. Several benches and lots of grass invite for picnics in the summer and taking a break in between shopping trips.
Overlooking the Whangarei Harbour, the playground on Panorama Drive in Riverside offers spectacular views across to Whangarei Heads and Mount Manaia. It’s not the biggest playground and there are no toilets, but it offers several climbing challenges and a double swing. The nearby reserve is also a great place to run around or kick a few balls. Panorama Drive itself is a quiet street and the playground situated a few metres away for added safety.
Another playground close to the inner city, Kensington Park playground offers a range of play equipment for all ages, including various swings, a double slide and games to support the development of fine motor skills. A fenced basketball and tennis court next to the playground provide further opportunities for ball games, bike rides or chalk fun. The playground is next to a busy road and only small barriers are in place, so supervision is a must. Toilets are available and a picnic table invites to stay and have a bite.
Kamo Sports Park
At the southern end of the Kamo Sports Park off Three Mile Bush Road is a large playground suitable for all ages. It offers ample climbing opportunities, a double swing and a seesaw. It’s not fenced, but at the end of a quiet street so fairly safe. Enjoy a picnic on the grass before venturing off down to the river for a stroll. Public toilets are available and the adjacent sports ground is great for little ones to run off some energy.
The playground on Beach Road in Onerahi is a perfect destination for a family day out. Located on the shores of the Whangarei Harbour, the playground resembles an old pirate ship that sparks children’s imagination and invites old and young for a play. Public toilets and a boat ramp are nearby. Though not fenced, there are barriers keeping kids from running onto the road while stairs on the opposite side lead down to the beach. At low tide, it’s a great opportunity to take your offspring for a discovery walk along the beach and spot crabs, seashells and other items of interest.
Continuing onwards from Onerahi along Whangarei Heads Road you will eventually get to McLeod Bay. On the foreshore is a beautifully designed playground overlooking the harbour and offering great views. Climbing challenges, a slide and a swing set are available for pre-schoolers and school-aged children. There is also a picnic table and toilets are only a short walk along the grass edge next to the road.
Though a bit further afield towards Tutukaka Coast, Ngunguru playground on Kopipi Crescent is one of the most popular ones with families. It’s fully fenced, and shade sails are provided thanks to fundraisers by the local community. The various play units are suitable for old and young, toilets are available on the grass area surrounding the playground. Local shops are within walking distance where you can grab drinks and a snack or even fish & chips.