Construction on the new pop-up playground next to the Elma Turner Library will begin in three weeks. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Pop-up playground for CBD


A soon-to-be demolished building next to the Elma Turner Library on Halifax Street, will provide space for a new pop-up playground, thanks to a collaboration between Nelson City Council and Wakatū Incorporation.

City centre development programme lead Alan Gray says the project came about after council undertook the Public Life Survey, which measured the footfall of different age groups throughout the city.

“We found that out of all the activities we measured, less than two percent included children playing. Less than five percent of the people we saw in the city centre were under five-years-old.”

The site of the building, which is in the process of being demolished due to seismic issues, was initially earmarked as a carpark but the results from the survey prompted a rethink about the ways to encourage more children and families into the city.

Alan says he wanted to try something different with the site that connects the river with the city and gives children a place to play.

The playground, which will start being built in three weeks and be completed by winter, will include a pump track for skaters, bicycles and scooters, a basketball court, and an imagination playground for younger children.

The imagination playground includes foam building materials, which children can use to make their own play structures.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said the new playground is in line with council’s plans to revitalise the city centre and riverside precinct.

“I can’t wait to see shooting hoops, racing on the pump track, and imaginations running wild in the pop up park – a long awaited place for our tamariki to enjoy in the city centre.”

Rachel says the playground ticks a lot of boxes for Nelson. Parents can go for a walk along the Maitai knowing there’s somewhere for their children to play at the end of their journey.”

She says it’s a smart way for council to use land in a way that benefits a wide range of Nelsonians.

“Thank you to Wakatū Inc for working with us to make it happen.”

Wakatū Inc group general manager for property and commercial, Iain Sheves, says that Wakatū Incorporation was happy to support the project by providing a temporary location for the pop-up playground.

“The council approached us with the idea of using the area for a new space for children and families.”

He says Wakatū Incorporation were planning to redevelop the space as part of the Mahitahi river precinct project, which is about creating a stronger link between the river and the city centre.

“However, the redevelopment is a couple of years away, so we are pleased to be able to support this fun temporary addition to community spaces for young people and families.”

Although the pop-up playground is not a permanent fixture, all of the materials used can be repositioned to another site in the city when needed.

Council could not say how much the project would cost.