Inside Our New Shoots Hillcrest Playground Redevelopment

Rediscovering Potential

Back in 2019, we opened our first-ever refurbished early childhood centre in Hillcrest, Auckland. Over the last 4 years, the centre has grown into part of the community and with that growth came time for another transformative journey, with the redevelopment of our playground.

Initially, the original New Shoots Hillcrest playground we designed was seen as a starting point. Though it was a lovely big open space with a sandpit and a fort structure in the centre, the space felt overwhelming and lacked the essential segmentation for effective play and learning. As our roll grew, we decided to push go on the project and create something special.

What our playground at New Shoots Hillcrest looked like before the redevelopment – Photos by Amanda Aitken Photography

The Vision and Objectives

Our primary goal was to address the issues that hindered the playground’s functionality while enhancing the existing elements.

We aimed to create a balanced environment where children could play confidently and safely. Shade was a significant focus. Utilising the natural landscape and adding new shade structures gives us a comfortable play space during the summer months.

We also reimagined troublesome areas. By transforming them into fully contained play pockets, we prevented issues like flooding and maintained a cohesive, intimate play environment. We wanted to make a unique and industry-leading playground, designed so that every aspect of it has a purpose in helping children grow.

New Shoots Hillcrest Playground redevelopment plans
One of the concept visualisations created by Wearthy based on our needs

Collaborative Design Effort

The New Shoots Hillcrest playground redevelopment was a collaborative effort. We partnered with Lukas Ritson from Wearthy, who played a crucial role in the design and development of the new playground

An initial site visit with the design team, including Lukas, Tim (our facilities coordinator) and Nik (our director of risk and procurement), set the stage for a series of workshops aimed at refining the playground’s layout. We engaged with the Centre Director, Area Manager, and parents throughout this process, ensuring everyone was part of the journey and their feedback was incorporated.

Keeping children curious, creative, and confident through offering the adventurous childhood they deserve is the principle that elevates Lukas’s play environments. Lukas believes play should be a holistic experience for children. It fosters connection, encourages resilience, and cultivates compassion. His innovative playground designs emphasise sustainable, quality materials, creating a healthy stage for limitless learning opportunities.

New Shoots Hillcrest Playground new water play feature

The Unique Features of the New Playground

Our new playground isn’t just any play area; it’s designed with unique features that set it apart. We’ve created distinct pockets of play and segregated spaces to foster a sense of security and adventure. The features include:

  • The introduction of risk elements in the form of monkey bars, a log tangle and a climbing fort that meet safety standards while providing ample challenges for upper body development.
  • The use of dense plantings for natural boundaries.
  • A bespoke sandpit and water feature made from Hineora NZ stone, hand-carved onsite.
  • The removal of bulk-purchased equipment in favour of customised, locally sourced materials.
  • A looping bike path with several balance bikes gives children the chance to intuitively learn to balance, turn and steer while feeling less likely to fall.
New Shoots Hillcrest Playground log tangle feature

Deciding on Equipment and Layout

Deciding on the playground’s equipment and layout was a meticulous process. We aimed to ensure that every element served a purpose from encouraging physical development to fostering imaginative play. This thoughtful approach is in line with our broader educational philosophy, linking each feature to children’s learning outcomes. For instance, the bespoke log tangle and climbing fort not only offer physical challenges but also promote problem-solving and social interaction.

Embracing Sustainability

Sustainability has always been at the heart of New Shoots. Our approach to the New Shoots Hillcrest playground redevelopment reflects this commitment. We’ve minimised our environmental impact by repurposing existing elements and incorporating eco-friendly materials. Our playground isn’t just a space for play. It’s a testament to our values of reducing waste and promoting sustainability in everything we do.

New Shoots Hillcrest Playground a play to watch the world go by

The Result: A New Era of Play

The transformation of our Hillcrest playground is a complete reimagining of what a play space can be. We’ve turned a challenging area into a haven of joy, exploration, and learning. As the children of Hillcrest explore their new playground, they’re playing and thriving in a space designed with their needs, safety, and growth in mind.

At New Shoots, we believe in the potential of every space to become something extraordinary. Come see the beauty and functionality of our newly transformed playground and witness firsthand how we’re creating environments where children can grow, learn, and shine.


Learn More:

Read about how in 2019 we transformed an old, vacant building on the North Shore into our beautiful Hillcrest centre

Check out the Play it Forward podcast, hosted by Playground Designer, TEDx speaker and Founder of Wearthy; Lukas Ritson, all about the importance of play and how with the increase of technological advancement, it has never been harder to get kids playing outside.

Let’s get moving

Start your child’s journey

Enrolment Conditions

New Shoots operates as a full day service and do not offer short days or sessions;
Our fees include high quality teacher ratios above Ministry of Education Standards;
Minimum enrolment is two days per week; A $50 enrolment fee will be due upon enrolment to confirm your place;
Two weeks notice is required when terminating enrolment; 10% discount is applicable to your eldest child’s fees if you have two or more children attending New Shoots full time;
Nappies and food are provided; and Formula is not provided – this must be brought in from home if required. 

To be read in conjunction with the Fee Policy.
Fees effective from 1st April 2022.