Parks are often referred to as the ‘lungs’ of a city – places where urban dwellers can enjoy the fresh air and get active. With dozens of green spaces dotted across Tāmaki Makaurau, it’s easy to find one near you. Here are a few of our top outdoor spots for fun and games.
Valonia Reserve, New Windsor
When you have a skatepark that’s been designed by award-winning Australian company Convic, it would be a crime to ignore it. It’s no wonder Valonia immediately became ‘skaters’ fave’ when it opened in 2017. It has an ultra-smooth finish with a clever combination of street obstacles, rails and ledges, plus a separate mini bowl for beginners.
This urban oasis also features exercise stations and drinking fountains for your solo workout, and is fab for ball sports with a full-sized sports field and volleyball court. Throw the appropriate gear in the car and go play!
Up for a family cycling outing? Try the 8km Waterview Path – it’s wide and sealed making it easy for little legs on bike or scooters. It loosely follows Oakley Creek from Valonia Reserve to Waterview Reserve, with plenty to see and do along the way: bridges, playgrounds, green spaces and even a waterfall.
Ōtamariki Park, Ōtara
Even if you don’t normally play basketball, you’ll want to try out the cool high-tech court at Ōtamariki Park near Ōtara in south Auckland. Since its major revamp in 2015, the playground has become a community drawcard. The court is official NBA size and has been laid with a superior grip texture for all-weather play. But the coolest thing is the Spark WiFi and LED screen backboards with instant replay functionality. Yep, you can press a button and watch the move you just did!
The playground is beautifully designed with a giant slide, traditional swings as well as basket swings, monkey bars and a crow’s nest climbing tower. If you have a soccer ball, head over to the grassy area for a kick around. Ōtamariki Park is also at the start of the Ōtara Path which is a fun walking or mountain bike trail that goes through Ōtara Creek Reserve and follows Ōtara Creek to Ngati Ōtara Park.
Henderson Park, Henderson
Fancy a round of disc golf? Henderson Park is home to Auckland’s first urban disc golf course with permanent baskets installed in 2014. If you’ve never heard of disc golf, start swatting up because the sport is becoming more popular in New Zealand and around the world. The nine-basket course may look easy and flat, but it’s well designed and still offers experienced players a good challenge. There’s even an information board about the sport to get you started.
Henderson Park has a beautifully maintained grass area for ball sports, as well as monkey bars, fitness equipment and a wide shared walkway, perfect for cycling on or getting your 10,000 steps, that takes you past Opanuku Stream Reserve and Shona Esplanade Reserve. Take a picnic and learn about the local wildlife from information panels along the way. Listen for fantails and tūī, and keep an eye out for kingfishers, and if you’re there in the evening and look very carefully, you might even spot a long-tailed bat! Pekapeka (bat) detectors can be borrowed from Auckland Council to help you locate these native mammals.