Caroline Bay Playground Timaru - Fun Accessible Challenging Meaningful

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It all began with creation stories, including Ara-Te-Uru, an ancestral waka, that once sailed past what is now Timaru, and wrecked near Moeraki. The passengers went ashore to explore the land, and turned into many of the landmarks of Te Waipounamu (South Island). Aoraki (Mount Cook) is at the centre of the Ngāi Tahu creation traditions of Te Waipounamu. In this story, Aoraki is on his grandfather Kirikirikatata shoulders. Pātītī (Patiti Point) and Tarahaoa and Hua-te-kerekere (Big Mount Peel and Little Mount Peel) were also passengers on Ara-Te-Uru. 

Over 2 million years ago, Timaru's lava flowed from the Waipouri / Mt Horrible area to what is now the coast. The lava helped shape the hills and coastline and created reefs. The area was abundant in life, such as Manu (Birds), Kai moana/seafood (Fish, shellfish and crustaceans), and Rākau (Plants). 

When humans began to explore these lands, the area became into a gathering place. It was, and still is today, an important resource to Māori.

Early Māori groups like Waitaha, Rapuwai, and Kāti Māmoe would collect food and other resources from coastal environments in the area such as Waitarakao (Washdyke Lagoon) to share and trade. Today, Arowhenua Marae (in Temuka) is the principal Māori settlement in the Aoraki region from the Rakaia to the Waitaki and back to the main divide. Mahika kai literally means 'to work the food’ and relates to the traditional value of food and other resources and their ecosystems, as well as the practices involved in producing, procuring, and protecting these resources and passing that knowledge on to the next generation.

With the arrival of Europeans, Timaru transitioned from a short-lived whaling spot in 1839, to a wool, grain, frozen meat, and fishing hub for South Canterbury from 1850s. The coast, however, was treacherous. A rough sea could spring up with little wind. Over 30 sailing ships lost their anchors and wrecked along the Timaru's beaches and cliffs. This led to the establishment of the life boat crews and rocket brigade, who rushed to rescue people and ships. Because it was difficult to reach the area, due to the wide braided rivers, Timaru needed an artificial harbour to be a viable shipping hub.

The new Port was one of only two independent ports in the country, being owned by the rate payers of Timaru. The port was an economic success and changed the way sediment flowed along the coast creating a new sandy bay where a narrow, gravel breach had previously been (Caroline Bay). This area was marketed as the Port Resort, and people have been playing at the bay for over a century.

CPLAY Awards Banner 240507 Parks Awards 2024 - Playground of the Year (over $500,000) category

Cplay Caroline Bay Playground Timaru Free Friends Family Fun


'CPlay is a small team of 13 volunteers who have been chipping away at the playground for over 5 years. Although the core team is small, this project has been a massive collective effort, with hundreds of people from our community contributing ideas, advice, support, fundraising, donations, and hands-on assistance in constructing the playground.'
'When we met with our community and heard their challenges accessing playgrounds in our district, we realized we needed to take an inclusive and wide universal design approach to help everyone play together, for free, and for as long as they wanted.'
'By intertwining local stories and histories with the landscape and incorporating them into our playground, we have aimed to create a special, playful experience that is fun, inspires imaginative play, offers a range of challenge and ways to move and think, and provides meaningful education, fostering a deeper understanding of our identity and heritage for locals and visitors.'
'Reducing our carbon footprint was really important to us. We repurposed materials and partnering with suppliers who also valued sustainable practices. Our space also serves as a playful classroom, helping people to learn about our Caroline Bay and the wider environment, who lives there, how everything is connected, and why we need to be guardians of the world around us.'


Noticed damage, graffiti, rubbish etc?  Please contact Timaru District Coucil via their "Snap, Send, Solve" app or form:

For urgent attention phone Customer Services 03 687 7200.

You can still reach our volunteers via email, just keep in mind we are not actively monitoring our messages, so thank you for your patience if we take some time to respond.

1 Virtue Ave, Caroline Bay, Timaru
(Off SH 1, Evans St).

OPEN 7 days / 24 hrs 

©2020-2024 CPlay and  Website Sponsored by Cloake Creative   Images are subject to copyright by various contributors - for the sole use of CPlay.