Nature’s Playground is a fantastic play space for kids of all ages, although the climbing equipment best suits kids 4 years and up (smaller kids have things to do and play with too, but be prepared to spend some time lifting them on, off and over things!).
Located just inside the Zoo entrance and right next to the new Variety Children’s Zoo the playground is one of the new era of kids play areas, with less plastic “too safe to be fun” equipment and more “let’s get back to nature and let kids have fun”! To find it, turn left at the entrance gates and it is just meters past the Wisteria Cafe – well placed for mum and dad’s coffee while the kids play!
To summarise all the details, I’ll simply say here first, that the new Adelaide Zoo playground is really awesome! It features a canopy aerial climbing and viewing platform, from which there are multiple slides, climbing rope ladders and other features. There is a great water/sand/creek bed area that is sure to keep the smaller family members happy – especially this summer. There’s a huge sandpit area with a number of activity tables for kids to build, collect ‘nature’ and just play around on. There are HEAPS of climbing options – Nature’s Playground is really developing little monkeys!
In addition to just being an awesome playground, the Nature’s Playground is a joint venture from Zoos SA and Variety SA, two of South Australia’s most iconic not-for-profit organisations, who have created an interactive and inclusive playground with excellent facilities for those with special needs. The upper level platform can be accessed via a lift, and there are no steps along the paths into/across the playground to ensure full wheelchair access across the whole area. There are lots of things to see, touch and interact with for people of all ages and interests so I can understand that it’s going to be a huge hit for everyone. In almost a ‘throwback’ to our childhood, the playground isn’t “so safe it’s boring”, and while you might want to keep a close eye on the ones who need it, there is plenty here to keep everyone active, interested and involved in the outdoors – just like they should be!
Our photos show most of the great features, but some of the best parts of the Adelaide Zoo playground are:
- The huge, wooden aerial platform is the centrepiece of the playground with a number route options – from rope ladders to the stairs and even the lift so everyone can enjoy the view from above,
- A cool water feature with water fountains shooting up from the pathway, bubbling out of nearby rocks and a water gate that kids can open and close to alter the water’s pathways,
- 3 in-ground mini-trampolines surrounded by soft-fall landing,
- In the immediate viewing area of most of the playground there is a covered, table area where parents and carers can relax while their kids play. The area has fans for hot days, a wonderful parents room with 2 curtained nursing chair’s nappy bins, changing area and microwave for heating milk and meals,
- 2 wheelchair accessible unisex toilets located immediately behind the canopy stairs/lift area.
- The Wisteria Cafe with lots of food and drink options (including decent coffee) is right next to the playground area,
- There are a couple of new, grassed and partly shaded lawn areas to enjoy a rest, picnic or keeper talk on.
- Speaking of keeper talks they are running them daily at 11am and 1:45pm right next to the reptile house in the playground area – kids can pat possums, reptiles and other animals 🙂 *Check the Zoo website to be sure of times.
- There are heaps of climbing options – mostly rope ladders, tightropes etc – so if you have a little climber they will LOVE these,
- If you have one monkey and one budding artist then bring some chalk – there is a huge blackboard wall built into the reptile house wall,
- 2 metal slides – one suited to younger kids that still moves pretty quickly, and the other a solid steel enclosed spiral slide that is fast and fun!
*The few small things we noted that we think parents should know before going were: inability to see from the top that the black rubber ramp down from the far end of the canopy is inaccessible for kids under about 7 years as there’s no climbing frame to get down from, water from the water feature overflows an inch or more over the walk through areas so don’t bring your best leather shoes as one lady did today, the ‘junior slide’ is a great attraction for under 3s but most kids that age wouldn’t be capable of climbing the rope frame to get up there themselves making it slightly frustrating for them and a constant lifting experience for parents, the ‘lie down’ swing sits about 1m off the ground unlike the ‘usual’ 30-50cm or so making it hard for kids to get on and off themselves and a bit of a hazard for smaller kids wandering too close, it is a bit difficult to see the whole playground from any one spot so if you have a number of younger, active kids you will have your work cut out trying to keep track of them. <– seriously though, these are small points and should definitely NOT put you off visiting this awesome new playground at Adelaide Zoo – see you there again soon! 🙂