"I wanna hang a map of the world at my house. Then I wanna stick pins in the locations that I`ve traveled to.
...But first I have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won`t fall down."
-Mitch Hedberg

Friday, March 26, 2010

Whakatane and Playgrounds

It seems like everywhere we turn New Zealanders are doing something active; and not just kind of active – insanely active. Marathon swims, 20 km “fun” runs, 100 km bike rides, there’s even this guy, Shaun Quincy, who just finished rowing a boat from Australia to New Zealand. Solo. (For those of you who have no idea about geography down here – that’s over 1,350 miles).

Obviously this abundance of energy seems excessive and confusing to us lazy Americans. However, Care and I think we’ve discovered the reason behind all the famed Kiwi “Can-Do” activities.


That’s right – playgrounds. The high-quality and overwhelming number of playgrounds in New Zealand is staggering. Well-designed skate parks litter tiny neighborhoods. Full scale climbing walls are placed
right next to see-saws. Tire swings and a monstrosity called the “Roktopus” cozy up to these spinning platforms that are designed to fling you off. The best part is that most of these places don’t have the safe spongy floors that play areas have in the States. No, these Kiwi kid death traps/awesome centers are paved with sand, wood chunks, and even straight-up big rocks.

One of the best playgrounds we found was in Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty. (Remember “Wh” is pronounced as an “F”…shockingly enough in this case). This thing had a massive zip line, swings, slides, climbing, skate park, pirate ship replica, fitness center, pull up bars, balance beams, and even hurdles – all just steps away from the beach. Carolyn and I got so swept up in the awesomeness that we competed against each other in a grueling obstacle course comprising everything in the park. It was so sweet.

The secret to all this Kiwi exercise insanity is the simple fact that Kiwi kids are provided with no end of slightly dangerous, but extremely awesome, playground equipment. They learn young that climbing, swinging, running, and flipping off stuff is super fun. How else do you think New Zealand invented zorbing?

I have a feeling that if we installed a few more zip lines in American preschools, we’d have some kid continuously backflipping his way across Nebraska…or some other equally hilarious middle state.

No comments:

Post a Comment