Nature Play space build making good progress by end September 2013

Nature Play space build making good progress by end September 2013

We’ve completed a nature play space at 203 Hereford Street, next to Latimer Square. It opened at the end of October 2013, with DOC events on site  during FESTA.  ArchesHut-atNaturePlay

We began build on the 12th Sept, made possible by generous sponsorship: large rocks from Taggarts, concrete tank and pipe from Hynds, excavator and driver plus three truck loads of river shingle materials from Fulton Hogan, and expert help to design and install the pumped water system from WaterForce. Deer fencing was erected at the rear by Central Fencing, public safety fence was loaned from City Care, and then we found that nearby road pothole repairs were being done on the same day!  Hard hats and safety jackets were everywhere.  More excavation was completed on Friday 13th, Ardex made a butynol pond liner and helped install it early the following week, with mulch delivered by TreeTech, and then spread by Beca volunters.   Planting followed.   In the first week of October turf was laid and components of the interpretation ‘hut’ were brought from our yard to site, ready for assembly the following week. Interpretation boards were installed on 18th Oct.


Volunteers from Beca help spread mulch (despite the rain)

Volunteers from Beca help spread mulch (despite the rain)

Media interest seems strong. A supportive editorial in the Christchurch Press. Latest story and photo here. Coverage on Radio New Zealand on 17 Oct,

Interpretation hut for Nature Play space under construction in GtR yard

Interpretation hut for Nature Play space under construction in GtR yard

Greening the Rubble, with help from Life in Vacant Spaces Trust, negotiated the access to the now Crown-owned site of former Arches restaurant, on the corner of Latimer Square. It is close to where the new Neil Dawson sculpture ‘Spires’ will be located and within sight of the ‘cardboard cathedral’, so is likely to be well-visited.

Our leading project partner is  DOC. Department of Conservation has supported this theme of a natural and educational play space for children and parents, using Canterbury native plants and interesting experiences to explore, designed-in to the compact landscape.  NZILA member Hilary Wetton (from Chris Glasson Architects) volunteered the design, in her own time. Interpretation and enjoyment of urban nature is the theme DOC is promoting. It is one of our most challenging and expensive projects so far, with strong reliance on partners, new and established sponsors (such as Placemakers, Treetech, and the City Council) to make it possible.


Design for Nature Play park by Hilary Wetton, volunteer for Greening the Rubble Trust.


Photo below shows an early site inspection and planning meeting with the Dept of Conservation team – all of whom have other busy jobs –  to consider the project design process. The site was blessed by the local Maori runaka before site works began.  Pictures are on Pinterest and recent ones in a Facebook album.

GtR Coordinator Rachael Annan (left) meets the DOC experts and project advisors, on site. The ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ and Latimer Square trees in the background, also Les Mills Gym.


Jonathan Hall, site manager for Greening the Rubble said that it was the community spirit of Christchurch that kept him driven to finish this project, which has been time-consuming.


“We at Greening the Rubble are about community involvement and good times”.  The project completion rate will also be weather dependent, although some volunteers are not stopped by rain…


Contributors to the Nature Play Park include:

  •  Fulton Hogan for the initial site preparation and shaping, installing deer fence posts, digging the tank hole, trenching for power and river and providing rocks and boulders.
  • Waterforce are donating all materials and labour for creation of the river feature and installing irrigation. The miniature (pumped) braided river is our star attraction!
  • DOC Motukarara nursery – Canterbury native plants
  • CCC have organised free water connection and no charge for water usage
  • Ardex NZ  donating (and making) the pond liner.
  • City Care have provided temporary safety fence free of charge and repaired the footpath around the site.
  • Hynds have donated a concrete water-tank and walk-through tunnel pipe
  • PlaceMakers have sponsored $1000 worth of materials towards hut construction by GtR
  • Central Fencing are donating labour to erect a fence, with materials at cost.
  • Trees for Canterbury have provided plants.
  • Abell truck hire discounted (to move donated topsoil)
  • Taggarts donated a large log
  • Tree Tech are providing ‘arbor mulch’, delivered for $200
  • Adgraphix have given us a 3 for the price of 2 deal on interpretation panels in the hut
  • Wai ora Nursery donated some trees
  • Wharenui School have donated kowhai and coprosma they have grown themselves

Others have offered plants from their homes or red-zoned properties.  Thanks EVERYONE!

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6 Responses to Nature Play Space

  1. Jo Eddington says:

    Just wanted to say “Thank You” for all the hard work and perseverance that was put in to make this wonderful space. My two sons had a magical time at the Nature play space last weekend. It was wonderful to see all the children really getting involved with their surroundings and just laughing and having fun in the sunshine! Such a positive, pleasant and enriching experience – thank you

  2. Kahn and Samara says:

    Well done for making this nature space here in Christchurch. It was awesome because there were lots of native plants and nature. It was cool because it had tree huts and rivers like in nature.

  3. Alice says:

    What a fantastic place to visit! Really great place for wee kids – 3.5 and 18 months. Perfect size, perfect set up, somewhere we will definitely visit again. Everyone involved should be very proud!

  4. Shelley Findlay says:

    We thought this would be a great place to take our 2, 4 and 6 year old today but we couldn’t believe it when we found half a dozen homeless people have moved in and made it their home! The hut was full of their bedding and they all stood there smoking. I hate to think what they are using as a toilet.

    • Gina says:

      Soon after Shelley’s comment was posted we came to the decision that there was no option but to remove the hut. This has since been done and there have been no further instances like this. Shelley, if you are back on our pages and see this post, I extend an invitation to you and your children to return and enjoy Nature Play.

      Gina Payne

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