Christchurch Playgrounds

Christchurch Playgrounds

There are a ton of playgrounds in Christchurch.  In fact, I’d say every suburb has at least one playground, even if its just a small one.  If we covered every Christchurch playground in every suburb, we would be here all day.

So we have chosen a few of the larger playgrounds, or ones that have something a little different that your kids would just love.

Christchurch Parks and Playgrounds

Destination Playgrounds

I class destination playgrounds as those you would travel across town for.  A destination playground is one that you could spend a couple of hours at and is an attraction in itself.  Christchurch has a few destination playgrounds that will keep your kids entertained for ages and the others on our list are really good playgrounds in themselves if you are in the area.

Destination Playgrounds

  1. Margaret Mahy Playground, Christchurch CBD
  2. New Brighton Pirate Playground
  3. Foster Park Playground, Rolleston

More Christchurch Playgrounds

The Best Playgrounds in Christchurch: Backyard Travel Family Rankings

    1. Margaret Mahy Playground, Christchurch
    2. New Brighton Pirate Playground, Christchurch
    3. Foster Park Playground, Rolleston
    4. Thomsons Park Playground, Christchurch
    5. The Groynes Playground, Christchurch
    6. South New Brighton Playground
    7. Spencer Park, Spencerville
    8. Victoria Park Playground
    9. Broad Park Playground, North New Brighton
    10. Craighead Reserve Papanui

Margaret Mahy Playground

 

The Margaret Mahy Playground is the biggest playground in Christchurch and is one of the best things to do in Christchurch with kids.  This playground is centrally located and has only 2 downsides.

  1. It can get extremely busy
  2. While there is free parking, it’s usually full on weekends.

That being said, it is one of my children’s favourite playgrounds in Christchurch and is suitable for all ages from babies to teenagers.

Slide at Margaret Mahy Playground, one of the best free things to do in Christchurch with kids

Water Play/Sprinkler Fun

During the summer time, make sure you bring a change of clothes or togs as there is a large water play area.  Kids can jump around in the sprinkler/fountain type area, or play at the awesome metal dam system.  I love how there is no actual swimming area so that the toddlers and preschoolers can explore without us parents having to helicopter so closely.

It’s a great way to cool off and enjoy the hot summer sun.  Note there is usually an ice cream vendor here during the summer time.

 

Huge Sandpit

If you don’t mind the kids getting sandy feet, then there is a large beachy setup with beautiful yellow sand.  Kids can not only build an awesome sandcastle, but they can haul their sand on a pulley system to the “lifeguard” tower as well as do some water play here too.

The Margaret Mahy Playground, largest in the Southern Hemisphere is a must visit in Christchurch, New Zealand // Backyard Travel Family
The Margaret Mahy Playground, largest in the Southern Hemisphere is a must visit in Christchurch, New Zealand // Backyard Travel Family
The Margaret Mahy Playground, largest in the Southern Hemisphere is a must visit in Christchurch, New Zealand // Backyard Travel Family

Main Playground

The Main Playground is huge and has many components.  When it’s busy it can be difficult to keep an eye on your kids, so dress them in bright colours or fluoro if you need to keep tabs on them easily.  

Our favourite part of the main playground is the wide metal slide.  It runs fast and is wide enough that kids never really have to wait to go down it. They also love twirly slide which is a  dark slide so you can’t see much on the way down.

Other parts we love: the mini trampolines, the climbing wall up to the wide metal slide and the kids love all the things that spin.

 

Things I don’t like about the Margaret Mahy Playground

  • Parking can be an issue, but they have tried their best, prime land
  • The netting cargo net to get up to the twirly dark slide has a section that makes it hard for large people to get through.  I have to flip on my back to go up with the kids when they were smaller.  It makes me worry about larger people. So I think that’s a bad call
  • It gets super busy on weekends and holidays – but that’s because it’s one of the best playgrounds in Christchurch.
 

Great for 

  • Toddlers
  • Primary School Kids
  • Teenagers (as far as cool playgrounds in Christchurch, this one is fun no matter what your age)

More Cool Playgrounds in Christchurch

 

New Brighton Pirate Playground

If you visited the New Brighton Playground at the Pier years ago, you would have remembered the big whale and shallow splash pool for the kids.  Well this playground has totally been redone and there is a replacement whale.  Goodbye old friend, but I appreciate bringing a new updated version for nostalgia.

The New Brighton Playground is located right next to the New Brighton Pier and New Brighton Library.  It has a large playground as well as a great splash pad and shallow swimming pool.  It’s a great place to visit right next to the beach and if it’s ever too rough to swim at the beach, then you can take the kids here instead.

It’s one of the best playgrounds Christchurch has to offer!

Playground Features

  • Huge pirate ship feature
  • Swings
  • Spinning climbing frame (one of my kids favs)
  • Musical toys
  • Slides

Splash Pad / New Brighton swimming pool

  • Shallow pool area that is great for young kids
  • Big whale feature in the pool area
  • Rubber floored splash pad area
  • Water guns
  • Fountain

Facilities at the New Brighton Playground

  • Toilets
  • Some shaded areas and seats
  • Cafes and food within walking distance
  • Next to the New Brighton Pier and Library
  • Beachside location

Great for

  • Toddlers
  • Preschoolers
  • Teenagers (younger teens)

Foster Park Playground

 

Just 20 minutes south of Christchurch is a great Rolleston playground.  Foster Park is in the growing area of Rolleston and we enjoy this playground as an alternative to the Margaret Mahy Playground.  While it has no water or sand play here, the playground is modern and has lots of different things to play on, and much better parking.

Playground Features

  • Large wide metal slide
  • Enclosed slide
  • Flying Fox
  • Spinning climbing frame
  • Unique rope climbing frame
  • Spinning roundabout
  • Tunnels
  • Swings and basket swing
  • Small toddler climbing set including mini slides and a train
Awesome toddlers train playground at Foster Park Playground, Christchurch, Canterbury

Facilities at Foster Park Playground

  • Toilets nearby but not right on site
  • Great shaded seating and picnic tables.  Best shade we have seen
  • Grassy fields for sport next door
 

Great for

  • Toddlers
  • Primary Aged Kids
  • Teenagers would enjoy this too I think (personally don’t have any but I’ve seen teens here)
For more photos, Read More: Foster Park Playground
Such an awesome playground, Foster Park Playground, Christchurch, just 30 minutes from Christchurch Airport and the Christchurch CBD

Scarborough Park, Sumner

 

Scarborough Park is a modern playground in Sumner which is practically on the beach.  It was redone in 2018 and is a bright, fun place to play.  If you are visiting Sumner: the best beach in Christchurch, then its easy to pair this with a visit to the Scarborough playground.

At this Sumner playground there is a small splash pad and swimming area which is perfect for under 5s who need a safe space to play.  This water will be warmer than the sea since its pretty shallow.

In the main playground, the kids love: the slide tower and the spinning rope swing and the climbing frame.  There is also a hamster wheel, swings, musical toys etc

Playground Features

  • Shallow splash pad, swimming area for younger kids
  • Slides
  • Swings
  • Big spinning rope swing
  • Hamster Wheel
  • Climbing rope frame
  • Musical toys

Facilities at the Scarborough Park Playground, Sumner

  • Toilets
  • Some seating and shade
  • Free BBQs
  • Food and ice cream just next door
  • Just back from Sumner Beach
  • Nice to place to scooter/balance bike along the waterfront walkway
  • Not far from a good half day walk at Taylors Mistake: Godley Head Track

Great for

  • Toddlers
  • Primary aged children
 

My kids give this playground a 10/10.  They love the variety, the bright colours and that they can combine this with a trip to the beach

Parent rating:  Can get a bit busy in weekends and summertime, which is to be expected. I give it a 9/10.

Victoria Park Playground, Port Hills

 

Victoria Park is way up in the Port Hills and probably not where you would expect to find a big grassy area and a big kids playground.  If you are doing some of the many walking tracks in the Port Hills, then this will be a good playground to visit for a breather.

Who is this playground best for? The playground equipment here has been designed for smaller kids.  In fact, my 8 year old couldn’t do the monkey bars as he was tall enough to stand underneath.  So for this reason I would say it’s best for kids up to 8 years old.

However bigger kids will love the speed slide, being able to climb in the trees nearby and for the adventurous, they can even practice a bit of rock climbing at the area at the top of the slide (keep the littles away from up there)

Playground Details

  • Toddler swings and playground equipment
  • Big speed slide that is fast and fun
  • Monkey Bars
  • Climbing frames
  • Small slides
  • Huge trees to climb
  • Rocks to climb on the path behind the slide

Facilities at Victoria Park Playground

  • Toilets
  • Sheltered Picnic Tables
  • Trees for shade, but no shade over the playground
  • Great views over Christchurch
  • Lots of walking and biking tracks from here

Best bits: the Speed Slide

Kids rating: 7/10 Kids loved the slide and exploring

Mum rating: 6/10 – I didn’t think the playground equipment was quite as engaging, but it would be a good spot for a picnic and a play.  I think the 6 and 8 year old would have more fun exploring the trees and rocks and using the speed slide, but the other playground equipment wasn’t as great for them.

In saying that, if we were taking a Christchurch walk here in the Port Hills, I think it would be worth a stop.  I just wouldn’t cross town for it.

South New Brighton Playground

 

South New Brighton Playground is a modern style playground in the quiet suburb of South New Brighton.  Just a couple of blocks back from the beach, the South New Brighton playground is in the middle of a large park which is perfect for a family game of touch.

Playground Features

  • Big Flying Fox
  • Extremely tall climbing frame
  • Spinning roundabout
  • 2 slides
  • Baby swings
  • Inward facing swings set
  • Basketball court
  • Large grass field next door

Playground Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Drinking water
  • Free bbq
  • Easy parking

I really liked this playground.  The flying fox was one of the best I had been on (although the rope to pull it back was too short for my 6 year old to pull back)  The playground equipment was different and there were lots of pieces we had never seen before.  A spinning bouncy see saw??  

The climbing frame went up around 7m high, but was enclosed so there were no safety issues.  I thought it was quite different and well worth the effort.

 

Important notes for parents with young children

The one thing that playground designers often get wrong is spreading out a playground too much.  There were a few trees in places and I could not see my children at all times here.  I find this incredibly annoying when I have to be all hands on deck with my preschooler.

This playground wasn’t great if you have toddlers and very young ones.  They only had swings, a wee roundabout and the see saw that they could really play on.  

I thought it was pretty good for preschoolers.  My three year old had a lot of options and I could even help her on the flying fox.  There was also a smaller rope climbing frame which she could explore a bit closer to the ground.  It’s not often they have small ones for kids

Best bits: Flying Fox and the Big Climbing Frame

Mum rating: I rated this playground an 8/10

Kids rating: 8/10

Emilia sits on a rope swing at South New Brighton Playground, one of the best playgrounds in Christchurch

Thomsons Park North New Brighton

 

Thomsons Park is an old school traditional playground.  Now I love a new modern playground with its innovative equipment and clean aesthetic looks, but I had forgotten the fun that these playgrounds can be.  And this playground is huge.

Very underwhelming to look at, but the one thing that new playgrounds miss, is that old school connected fort style structure.  Where you can play a game of tag, or “the ground is lava” and have a million options where to run.  You can slide down poles or ladders, or cross bridges.  There are a ton of exit points and places to run and hide.  Unlike modern equipment which all seems to have one particular use.

These are the playgrounds where the best of the mass games with local kids happen.  And to be honest, I’d forgotten the fun.  It was a welcome reminder.

Playground Features

  • Old school traditional wooden playground with bark
  • All interconnected for fun obstacle course and tag games
  • Big skate and scooter area
  • Separate toddler area
  • Big Flying Fox
  • Full Basketball court

Playground Facilities

  • Picnic Tables and Benches
  • Toilets
  • Small amount of shade in the trees
  • Trees to climb
  • Just across the road from the beach and freedom camping area

Kids Rating: 10/10

Mum rating: 9/10

Broad Park, North New Brighton

Broad Park is just a couple of kilometres down the road from Thomsons Park and the playground has a similar feel but on a smaller scale.

This wooden playground is a little newer and more polished than Thomsons Park, but perhaps that’s because it doesn’t have a skate and scooter park running through the middle of it.

One thing I really liked about this playground is that you could watch the kids while sitting in your car if you wanted to.  If you had older kids, this would be a total plus, especially for those days when the kids want to play in the cold and it’s just a bit cold for spectators sitting still.

Mum and Kids Rating: Solid 7/10 playground that will keep the kids entertained for a while, but nothing too out of the ordinary here.  A good spot if you want to head to the beach as well as visit a good Christchurch playground.

Playground Features

  • Wooden framed playground (big fort style) with an assortment of other equipment
  • Big flying fox
  • Lots of swings and slides
  • Climbing equipment such as cargo nets, ladders, monkey bars etc
  • Beach access
  • Can play in the Forest and trees

Playground Facilities

  • Toilets around the corner
  • Beach Cafe across the road

The Groynes Playground, Christchurch

The Groynes has a number of playgrounds in this Christchurch park, but the best one is the natural playground near the boatshed.  The large coconut fibre rope swing is a favourite with the kids as is the huge spinning “swings?” Why I question… well the kids can climb in the cage and be spun around.

One of the great things about the Groynes is there is an orienteering trail that is perfect for kids.  You can download the map on the Peninsula and Plains Orienteering website. There are a number of walking trails and picnic spots and it’s a great place for a day out.

The Groynes is located on the Groynes Drive and is only 8km from Christchurch Airport.  So if you are looking for a playground near Christchurch Airport, this is a great place to pass the time before you leave on your flight. 

Playground Features

  • Rope Swing
  • Spinning Rope and Climbing frame
  • Roundabout
  • Climbing activities

Playground Facilities

  • BBQs
  • Walking Trails
  • Toilets
  • Shady trees for shelter
  • Fishing 
  • Boating
  • Pedal Boats in the Lake
  • Dog Park

Kids Rating: 7/10

Parent Rating: 8/10 as there were other activities you could do here too

Spencer Park Playground

The playground at Spencer Park is quite unassuming.  Perhaps I was a little underwhelmed the day we visited as it felt a little unkept as the scraggly grass hadn’t been mown and I wasn’t sure what I was expecting.

But, once we walked across from parking, it was actually quite good.  The playground is mostly wooden and blends in with its surroundings, so don’t expect bright colours as per the likes of Scarborough in Sumner.

Spencer Park is on the northern side of Christchurch, but it is worth the drive as not only is there a good adventure playground here, there is an animal park, lagoon walks, mountain biking closeby, a campground and the beach right there.  So its a great day trip if you combine it with the other local activities.

This playground is actually great for older kids (not something I say as much) as there are lots of things to climb and some taller structures.  One thing I did find with younger kids is that it was quite hard to sight them all the time as there were long brushes and spread out playground areas.  So that’s something to note if you have multiple toddlers and preschoolers etc.

Something that is unique to Spencer Park is that there is a small animal farm here.  Just a few minutes walk from the playground you can enter a gated off area where you can explore the farmlet area.  If you aren’t a fan of birds wandering at your feet, you might want to skip this one.

Fun Activities near Spencer Park

There are also wetland walks here at Brooklands Lagoon and its a short walk to the beach.  Spencer Park is also connected to Bottle Lake Forest which is a great place to mountain bike with kids.

Playground Features

  • Slides 
  • Swings
  • Climbing Frames and Cargo Nets

Playground Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Free BBQs to use
  • Sheltered Picnic Tables

Kids and Parents rating: 7/10

A few smaller playgrounds

 

Craighead Reserve

This playground is just a small local playground but it was quite pretty.  It was lovely to have some shade under the big trees and awesome. You could see the bike pump track as well as the playground.

There isn’t too much variety and only a few activities for each age group, but if this was your local playground that you could walk to from home, then it’s a good little space.

Playground Features:

  • Small local playground
  • Good little pump track next door, suitable for balance bikes
  • Big slide
  • Monkey Bars for older kids
  • Fun train for imaginative play.  My kids really liked it
  • Swings and basket swing
  • Little motorbike rocker

My 6 year old rated it was 8/10, my 8 year old said it was a 5/10 and I rated it a 5/10

 

Knights Stream Park

Okay, so technically Knights Stream Park is a scooter park (and skate park and bike park) but there is a small playground across the road.

But I thought if your kids are like mine, then they might love this spot in Halswell.  It has a great big skate bowl, flat scooter and skate area with jumps and rails as well as a learn to ride area with giveaway and stop signs.  The learn to ride area is perfectly flat so great for young ones and a good place to scooter too.

Across the road is Neil Graham Park so you can easily visit both skate park and playground while you are here.  The playground has some great climbing frames the kids really enjoyed but its not great for toddlers.  There is less for them to do here.  Good for primary school kids though.

For more photos and information about the Knights Stream Scooter and Bike Park in Halswell click here

View over the scooter surface with jumps and rails, perfect for scootering, skateboarding and biking at Knights Stream Park, Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand
Knights Stream Park Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand // Photo by Backyard Travel Family

Indoor Playgrounds, Christchurch

 

There aren’t a lot of good indoor places to play in Christchurch, but if its a rainy day in Christchurch and you are keen for the kids to burn off some steam, here are some of the best place to do that

 

Chipmunks Playgrounds

This Christchurch indoor playground is best for toddlers, preschoolers and primary school aged kids.  There are dedicated areas for under 5s so they don’t get knocked over the big kids, which is great. 

Chipmunks is a franchised activity playground and includes big slides, ball pits, huge inflatables etc.  Its a great thing to do on a rainy day and is a popular place for kids birthday parties.

Chipmunks can be found in Papanui and Wigram, Christchurch

 

Other great indoor play areas

  • YMCA Clip n Climb and Rock climbing walls in Christchurch Central City
  • Indoor Trampoline Parks such as Mega Air, MoveX and Launch Pad
  • Inflatable World in Hornby

For more family friendly indoor activities in Christchurch, read here: Best Free Things to do in Christchurch with Kids

 

Jennifer

Jennifer

Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 8 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

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