An island playground inspired by nature

An island playground inspired by nature An island playground inspired by nature An island playground inspired by nature An island playground inspired by nature An island playground inspired by nature

Mariner Rise reserve and playground, a joint ecology and landscape project around a Special Housing Area on Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland, was officially opened in late October.

The project involved stream reconstruction and restoration, which provided an opportunity to create a small play space for the adjacent residential neighbourhood of 60 townhouses being developed by McConnell Property.

The Boffa Miskell project team, comprising ecologist Ian Boothroyd and landscape architects Mark Lewis, Larissa Moyle and Aynsley Cisaria, provided ecological advice and designed the stream restoration and new play space.

The site presented challenges, as it sits at a confluence of streams where flooding needs to be managed to protect the nearby homes. Where the streams meet, they form an island which can be seen from the banks on either side. The space can be also viewed from the surrounding houses, a community building and bus stop; as well by children walking to and from school.

As part of the stream restoration, fish were relocated and the wetlands were planted to bring birds into the reserve and provide habitat for insects and lizards. Stream-margin sedges, including ruatahi (Carex lessoniana) and purei (Carex secta) and wetland rushes were used along the water’s edge. Specimen trees included kanuka (Kunzea robusta), nikau (Rhopostylis sapida) and kowhai (Sophora tetraptera).

“I think the result is a beautiful natural area, with a series of well-defined spaces, softened by native planting. It’s full of intrigue and opportunities for natural play,” said Mark.

A larger island was created between the two streams and play items were installed to draw children into the space, including different and challenging ways to reach the island itself.

Enabling children to interact with nature was an important part of the design, as Aynsley explains. “My hope with the little bridges and balancing beams was that kids would get the chance to spot fish and eels in the revitalised stream, poke about in the reeds and rushes for other interesting critters, and just enjoy a hangout space on their doorstep that wasn’t a variation on ‘plastic fantastic’.”

McConnell Property’s Development Manager, Matt Anderson agreed. “When I saw the local kids climbing in the stream, and making little dams with the rocks, I knew we’d accomplished our goal of providing our youngest residents with an exciting space that enables them to use their imaginations and interact with the natural environment.”

For further information please contact Sarah Collins

1 November 2017