Nature play park opens in red zone

Te Kohanga Taiao Sensory Nature Play Park opened last weekend. Photo: Newsline
Te Kohanga Taiao Sensory Nature Play Park opened last weekend. Photo: Newsline
A deserted residential playground in Christchurch has been brought to life by a sensory nature play park.

Te Kohanga Taiao Sensory Nature Play Park has opened on Brooker Ave in the red zone.

Christchurch businesses, Hummingbird Coffee and The Green Lab, teamed up to work with Christchurch City Council on the project.

The new park aims to serve as an educational hub and a nature haven to encourage a deeper connection with the environment.

Its design allows children to discover nature by feeling different textures of leaves and wood, smelling a variety of native plant aromas, and listening to natural sounds like tapping on wood and rustling leaves.

“This kind of opportunity to invent play, to utilise found materials and discover interesting spaces to play are really important for our children’s sense of independence, creativity and confidence,” says council play advocate Louise Van Tongeren.

“The play spaces are deliberately set up to inspire children to head off and explore, without being overly prescriptive about what to actually do.”

Children learn through all of their senses - for some that is running and climbing and others may learn better through sensory elements, said Van Tongeren. 

“When we provide spaces that allow for other kinds of exploration, including calmer play experiences, we are being much more inclusive of a wider range of needs within our community.” 

Once a former residential area, the park is now home to multiple wētā ‘hotels’ and ‘apartments’ made at workshops at Phillipstown Community Hub.

They are warm and dry spaces where ecologically important native wētā, bees and wasps can keep safe from predators like rats and birds.

A recent ‘bioblitz’ held at the site as part of the City Nature Challenge uncovered more than 100 different species of plants, insects, spiders and fish in just a few hours.

Council community partnership and residential red zone ranger Sarah Mankelow said the Avon Ōtākaro River corridor will be a green spine that stretches from the city to the sea.

“The opportunity to restore and protect the river that runs through the heart of our city and plan ahead for climate change is a once in a lifetime opportunity."