BY VICKI LAMBERT

Waihī Beach boasts not only stunning ocean views, but also a diverse array of playgrounds that cater to the young and young at heart. From sandy shores to grassy play areas, this beachside haven offers a variety of playgrounds that promise endless fun and cherished memories for both locals and families visiting the region.

1. Main End Tyre Swing (Honourable Mention)

Although not an official park, the tyre swing that is suspended by the magnificent Pohutukawa, clinging to the rocky bank at the north end of the beach, is a Waihī Beach icon. It’s a must-do to have your photo taken here. It’s definitely Instagram worthy.

2. Pohutukawa Park Playground, the Esplanade

Also known as the ‘main end’ playground by locals, this is the perfect spot to take the kids for a ‘park play’ then head to the beach. With just a short stroll to Hui for a coffee and the Seaside Store for the little one’s to choose an ice cream, you really can’t go wrong.

3. Brighton Reserve Playground

The iconic ‘Castle Park’ is well known and loved amongst local residents and visitors. The playground has a climbing wall, slides, a climbing net and tunnels underneath a grassy knoll. Adjacent to the park are public BBQ facilities, picnic tables, basketball goals and public conveniences. The perfect place to play and BBQ, all within a few metres of the beach.

4. Waihī Beach School Junior Playground

Our local Kura boasts two impressive playgrounds that are available to the public, outside of school operating hours. The junior playground, located near the Hillview Road entrance, is a sensory delight for the younger tamariki. Water, sand and structures, reflecting nature, provide a landscape based on our mighty Tuhua, allowing the imagination to run wild.

5. Waihī Beach School Senior Playground

The bigger of the two playgrounds at Waihī Beach School is designed for the older tamariki, offering more than the usual swing and slide combination. You will find a fitness trail and obstacle course that borders the playground. That is just the start – the list goes on, a zip line, a maypole, climbing net, inground trampolines, bike track, basket swing and an impressive climbing tower, to mention a few.

* Note: The installation of the senior playground extension has begun – water play, sandpit, electric BBQ, BBQ tables with wheelchair access and a surf trainer! Watch this space.

6. Skatepark

Waihī Beach skatepark is a concrete transition-focused park, located at the rear of the Waihī Beach Community Centre. It has an old school vibe that takes you back to years gone by. Elements on offer are an array of ramps, rails and obstacles that cater to various skill levels. The Skatepark has an update on the horizon, set to enhance its facilities for skating enthusiasts.

7. Seaforth Road Recreation Reserve

Our most petite of parks on offer, keeping it simple with three swings, this is a great pitstop on your walk to the village or the beach, if a swing stop is required to keep the little troops motivated.

8. Island View Playground

Most definitely one of the jewels in our playground crown, the Island View Playground, was officially opened on the 8th of November 2022 and is now a firm favourite. The tamariki of Waihī Beach School were involved in the design of the park and have acknowledged the Nga tamariki o Tangaroa of this area, by creating pictures and words for park visitors to find. With ten in total to track down, it’s a great challenge to add for your next visit.

9. Albacore Ave Playground

Maybe the closest playground to our sandy beach, the Albacore Ave Playground, is practically connected to the foreshore, with the dunes seamlessly leading to the playground. A fully accessible picnic table is positioned perfectly, to keep a watchful eye on the little ones whilst taking in the unobstructed ocean view and the ever-present Tuhua.

10. Bowentown Park

If you are looking to combine harbour views with some fresh air playground time, then this is the spot. With a slide, swings, climbing wall and a swing bridge, it ticks the boxes, not to mention that it’s a short stroll to the Bowentown Boating and Sport Fishing Club for a refreshment and bite to eat afterwards.

11. Tui Reserve, Pio Shores

Tucked away within Pio Shores is a gem of a playground. The Tui Reserve Playground boasts an impressive array of climbing based equipment. With a grassy field adjacent, you can take the rugby ball along with you. The Tui Reserve Playground is recommended for children aged over 12 years.

12. Bowentown BMX Pump Track

Next to the Waihī Beach Coastguard HQ at Bowentown, is our very own BMX track. With hours of hard work donated by many locals in 2020, a significant revamp of the track was completed. It features a series of banked turns, rollers and jumps with a scenic coastal backdrop. And if you fancy a game of cricket, the adjacent reserve is home to a pitch.

13. Dr North Memorial Reserve, Athenree

Athenree has two harbourside playgrounds that are connected by a coastal walkway. The walkway is not steep and does not have stairs, so a stroll between the playgrounds with a pushchair is ideal. Dr North Memorial Reserve Playground, located on Pohutukawa Drive, has a unique feature – a novel communication system. Buried piping with exposed portals, extending above ground, allows sound to be carried below ground at either end of the playground.

14. Waione Ave Reserve, Athenree

Sound might just be the theme for the Athenree playgrounds. The Waione Ave Reserve Playground is home to the Athenree Drumbells. These are a series of suspended, differently shaped heavy bells, that when struck produce individual tones. After visiting the park, you can pop into the Athenree Hot Springs and Holiday Park, to grab an ice cream followed by a dip in the hot pools.

The playgrounds at Waihī Beach, offer a tapestry of play experiences that reflect the region’s natural beauty and community spirit. From seaside wonders to imaginative adventures, these playgrounds offer something for families seeking moments of joy, connection and exploration. Whether it’s the laughter of children echoing across the sand, or the contented smiles of parents enjoying the scenery, these play areas contribute to the vibrant way of life at Waihī Beach. So, pack your sunscreen, gather your loved ones and let the playgrounds of Waihī Beach become the backdrop to your unforgettable family memories.