O¯ taki Beach playground a treasure
Kāpiti Jonathan Thompson
Laughter, movement and exploration are all food for the soul, yet so often we adults become too busy to enjoy these simple pleasures. Thank goodness for our little ones, who remind us with their infectious energy that the little things, like play, really do matter. And thank goodness for the coast’s abundant playgrounds. No matter their size, our playgrounds are ever near, and always ready to deliver that which we need the most: a chance to blow away the cobwebs and chase after the kids. One playground that offers these big things — and does so in a delightfully small package — is the Tasman Rd Playground at O¯ taki Beach. Though little more than an acre in size, the playground packs in a tonne of fun, with slides, a merry-go-round, two multi-person swings, balancebeams and a flying-fox. Of course, the playground’s most outstanding feature is its magnificent pirate ship. Many creative adventures can be had on its multiple decks and climbing frames. The ship’s detailing is quite something — be it the ship’s wheel, its flags, the parrots atop the masts, the portholes at the lower levels, or the sturdy chain anchor. Other than its mighty ship, a key point of difference of the Tasman Rd Playground is the charming surroundings. On three of four sides, the playground is bordered by grassy sand dunes, which are popular for imaginative play. The rear dune is the largest, and climbs high enough to give a view of the Byrons Resort Campground and O¯ taki Beach beyond. There’s even a connecting track to the campground. Fast-facts: With two picnic tables, a public toilet, and an easy-access off-road carpark, the park is perfect for short stays. There are two routes to the park. To avoid O¯ taki township from the south, turn left off State Highway 1 onto Riverbank Rd (just after crossing the O¯ taki River bridge). Keep left and follow the roads to Marine Parade, where a right turn onto Tasman Rd will take you to the park, situated a few blocks back from the sea. From the north, turn right off State Highway 1 onto Mill Rd, which then becomes Tasman Rd as you pass through O¯ taki township. Head west on Tasman Rd to Otaki ¯ Beach and the O¯ taki Beach Grocery Store, both a short stroll from the park. The store is a diary, but also offers fish n chip takeaways.