Best children's playgrounds in Marlborough
By: Christopher Cookson
Last Modified: 31-12-2020 11:00
I’m probably a bit beyond the age where playgrounds are my primary interest for an outing, or at least beyond the age to admit it, however in this edition of my series of blog posts on things to do in Marlborough, I enlisted the help of my nine year old daughter Anna, since during school holidays keeping younger members of the family entertained is fairly important for the well being of the whole family. When we've been on holiday outside of Marlborough, Anna's assessment of the quality of a town has always been based on its playgrounds, so I thought her evaluation might be useful for locals and visitors to Marlborough alike. In careful consultation with Anna, here is a list of best playgrounds in Marlborough. I know there are many more playgrounds in Blenheim alone, let alone other parts of Marlborough so if you think we’ve missed one, get in touch and let us know any others that you think are particularly cool and we can pay a visit and update this article if they pass Anna’s coolness test.
Pollard Park in Blenheim tops the list as it has a variety of actual play equipment, and the big slide is cool. There is also a fenced off area for preschoolers, although Anna does feel that there maybe is a bit of a lack of activities for younger school aged children if they’ve outgrown the preschool play area, but aren’t quite ready to tackle some of the more challenging play equipment. That is more than made up for by the native rock garden area which is great for playing hide and seek, and the stream where hungry ducks are always happy to be fed. There’s also the outdoor exercise circuit, which although not specifically designed for kids, makes for great play equipment.
In autumn playing in the fallen leaves is great fun. Toilets and a barbecue area mean the all important issues of keeping kids fed and allowing them to relieve themselves are catered for.
Picton Foreshore Reserve
Picton Foreshore Reserve comes in second on Anna’s list, with plenty of play equipment suitable for all ages, including the pirate ship, and given every kid’s magnetic attraction to water, the water play area. Parents, you have been warned, take a change of clothes and a towel, as your kids will likely get wet. Apart from the water play equipment, there’s the beach itself which is good for swimming especially on a hot summer day. Other attractions include the model train that gives rides, a boat pond where it’s possible to hire a model sail boat (or bring your own) and a carousel. For bigger ‘kids’ of all ages, there’s also a mini-golf course that features various Marlborough landmarks. Importantly, there are toilets on site.
Oliver Park in Redwoodtown, Blenheim ranks high on Anna’s list because she says it has quite a diversity of things to do. The flying fox is a big attraction, and I think this might be the only public park in Marlborough with one. There is a modest variety of other play equipment, however for kids with bikes or scooters a popular attraction is the ‘road’, an area of sealed cycle track marked with traffic markings, where kids can practise riding on a ‘road’ and obeying traffic rules in a safe environment. It’s also great for races! Oliver Park has extensive areas of sports fields, and when they’re not in use by sports teams, they provide a large area to kick a ball around or fly a kite, as there are no trees or power lines within a wide radius. There are toilets on the north eastern corner of Oliver Park as part of the Redwoodtown Community Centre.
I wouldn’t have thought to include Renwick Domain on the list of best playgrounds in Marlborough, if it hadn’t been for my daughter, as last time I visited a few years ago, it was just a large area of sports fields and a pavilion, with no play equipment; fine if you want to kick a ball or fly a kite, but not much else. Things have changed, and as I was discussing with Anna parks to include on the list, she mentioned that she’d been to a park in Renwick with a friend recently that was pretty cool. That required a family trip to investigate, and it turns out in addition to they playing fields and pavilion, there is now a variety of play equipment. There are some swings, a large slide, a spinney merry-go-round kind of thing, a skate park suitable for younger kids on scooters, a Frisbee golf course, and a kind of strange wooden obstacle course, which actually turns out to be quite a challenge if you try to have a race from one pole to the next without falling off.
Just to prove that it’s not only the major centres in Marlborough that rank for playgrounds, the playground at the small beach settlement of Rarangi makes the list. Anna said this playground isn’t quite so good for younger children, although it does have a fence to keep them off the road, many of the activities require quite a bit of strength and height, with some that are a challenge for people of almost any age. There are swings and a slide that suit younger children, while for the more adventurous there is a climbing wall, and various tests of strength and dexterity that involve swinging between a variety of suspended structures. There’s a pump track between the play equipment and the beach, so it’s worth bringing a bike. Within the pine forest overlooking the beach, there are a number of rope swings. These aren’t official play equipment, so you use at your own risk, but they seem to be pretty secure. The beach itself can be a lot of fun, although it’s not a swimming beach. One thing you do need to bear in mind is that the nearest toilet is 800m away at the Rarangi Beach DOC camp ground.