Playground a hit with Stoke families

Playground a hit with Stoke families
The Octopus’s Garden features a lot of timber, with Council having saved many fallen hardwood trees which are now contributing to the playground’s natural look along with locally sourced rocks.

Ngawhatu Reserve’s new Octopus’s Garden Playground in Stoke, constructed by Nelmac, has been a big hit with local families, with its natural play spaces, new playground equipment, wheelchair accessible paths, and more than 1000 new plants and grasses.
Nelmac landscape construction team manager Richard Smethurst says after consulting with the local community about the features they would like to see in their playground, Nelson City Council wanted to upgrade the existing playground with new equipment, new plantings, and wheelchair access.
“Where the playground was, and where some of it still is, was in need of an upgrade, but also there was no planting or softness to it either,” he says.
“Council have been upgrading other playgrounds, like the one Nelmac was involved in at the Hockey Reserve, which has a natural and softer look to it.
There is a lot more interest in these types of playgrounds.  Council had the idea for Ngawhatu Reserve, and we followed it through.”
The Octopus’s Garden features a lot of timber, with Council having saved many fallen hardwood trees which are now contributing to the play-ground’s natural look along with locally sourced rocks.
Nelmac removed some of the old playground equipment, replacing it with new items: a slide, an eagle claw swing, and a log climbing frame.
The new playground’s area extends up to the grassy bank, and now forms the slope of the wheel-chair accessible slide.
A wheelchair accessible pathway was created on the hill to take chairs from the bottom to the top of the slide.
On top of the hill is also the eagle claw swing and climbing frame.

Playground a hit with Stoke families
The eagle claw is a big dish swing, great for all kids but importantly, accessible for disabled kids who can sit or lie down inside
and be pushed around. Below, the new playground’s area extends up to the grassy bank, with a wheelchair accessible slide.

 
 
The eagle claw is a big dish swing, great for all kids but importantly, accessible for disabled kids who can sit or lie down inside and be pushed around. The climbing frame is untraditional.
Instead of a steel or rope frame, the Octopus Garden’s climbing obstacle is made out of the trunks of those same fallen trees, constructed in certain ways that allow kids to climb and balance.
Underneath the eagle claw a synthetic lawn with rubber matting was installed, providing a fall zone for that particular height and also a compliment to the playground’s natural look.
Fall zones underneath the standard swings and climbing frame are made from 300ml of bark chips.
As well as planting more than 1000 new plants and grasses, the Nelmac landscaping team has created bunds of soil to provide a more interesting and undulating contour to the ground.
Richard says the big challenges on this project included working with natural materials like tree trunks. “You’ve still got to make it very safe,” he says.
“We have used chainsaws to cut the trunks then interlocked and bolted them together.
“Also we had to get them on to site – there were some really big tree trunks, so we had Byrne Carriers lift them in with a hiab.”
The wheelchair accessible pathway from the bot-tom of the slide to the top also had its challenges. “We had to make sure it was going to be easy to push a wheelchair up the pathway.
It was initially going to be a grassed area, but after discussing things on site, we figured it would be better to have a fine crushed dust basecourse to give the path a solid surface.”
“ Where the playground was, and where some of it still is, was in need of an upgrade, but also there was no planting or softness to it either.”
Families have been flocking to the Octopus’s Garden on a daily basis. One mother with a disabled son was so over the moon with the new playground she sent Nelmac a photo of her son on the eagle claw swing.
“It was nice to see the results come back on that. It’s been a big hit.”
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