Designing a ground-breaking play space for all abilities and ages.

Anderson Park Playground is the outcome of quality engagement with stakeholders, and the courage to invest and not compromise on quality. Centrally located within one of Napier’s premier suburban parks, accessible and imaginative features create an inclusive environment that encourages all abilities and ages to play alongside each other.

Working with Napier City Council and a disabilities reference group, Boffa Miskell was responsible for the design of the playground, community engagement, and technical observation of the design's implementation.

The result is an award-winning response to the council’s vision for Napier of 'a vibrant and sustainable city for all.

Boffa Miskell was engaged to bring to life a 2015 master plan for the park, developed following considerable consultation in the local area. The 36-hectare park had been used for passive recreation for many years.

The Anderson Park Playground was to be the first 'all-abilities' playground of its size and scale in the region, if not the country. The previous playground had been well-used, but it was small, lacking in challenge for some, inaccessible to others, and not at all unique.


Hawkes Bay

Worked with

A E Tilley
Constructive Landscape Solutions
Future Landscape Ltd
Grundy Productions
McNatty Construction
Park Life
Playground Centre
Playground People
Ricks Terstappen
Street Furniture NZ

Project date

2016 - 2018


Highly Commended | Social Well-being | LGNZ Excellence Awards
Outstanding Park | New Zealand Recreation Association Awards

The new playground is accessible to all. It sits discretely amid existing mature trees, and its structures respect the surrounding park environment. Symbiotically, the trees provide valuable shade for the playground.

The playground includes pods of similar experiences at different challenge levels.
Features include:

  • visual and tactile stimuli for the hearing- and sight-impaired, including artwork with messages in Braille and a musical bridge
  • a first-of-its-kind (in Aotearoa / New Zealand) swing set, with a variety of seat types enabling everyone to swing
  • non-isolating equipment allowing all abilities to play alongside each other. For example, a mini tower that is wheelchair accessible via a ramp, with a double width slide so that caregivers can accompany tamariki down the slide
  • a range of sensory experiences including enclosure and elevation
  • exciting water play experiences, reflecting nearby waterways and providing a great alternative to the beach for this inland suburb
  • structured and non-structured play experiences; places to hang out and observe the action as well as places to take part
  • a family environment that encourages parents and carers to join in the play and enjoy all-day visits
  • improved accessible car parking, access to the playground, and directional signage
  • new accessible toilet/change facilities, featuring a lifting swing which is a first for Napier.

Users of all ages and abilities can now swing, slide, climb, spin, balance and jump. Drawing on their considered selection of equipment and thoughtful design responses, the Boffa Miskell team worked closely with artist Ricks Terstappen, playground safety auditor Philippa Bollond, and play equipment companies.

True to the design, there is seamless movement through the diverse play environments. The skills required to interact with each element ('playability') are graded, allowing groups of mixed age and ability to truly play together in a logical progression of experiences that grow ever more challenging.

The wider design incorporates ancillary facilities such as paths, accessible toilet and changing facilities, BBQs and signage. These are vital in creating an inter-generational recreation destination that allows users to stay and play.

Anderson Park was pioneering in the inclusive play provided and with its use of natural elements in this scale, expanding the play opportunity for all ages and abilities. The project continues to influence destination playspace projects, and all-abilities recreation spaces throughout the country.