Mission Heights Primary School

Mission Heights Primary School

Playground with a boat, vegetation rubber and bark surfacePlayground with a boat, vegetation rubber and bark surface

Play Reaches New Heights at Mission Heights Primary.

Mission Heights Primary School
Circa budget:
Turning Concrete into Child’s Play

At Mission Heights Primary School, a concrete yard posed an enduring problem for teachers and children alike. According to Camelia, a new entrant teacher at the school, the previous environment was uninviting and hard on young students. “Our children were struggling to find an area to play, especially our younger children…there were a lot of bruised knees and grazes because of the concrete,” she recalls.

Mission Heights, home to approximately 700 children, recognized the crucial role of outdoor play in childhood development and took the bold step of transforming their grey, concrete landscape into a vibrant, interactive playground.

A Paradigm Shift in Playgrounds

Following a successful upgrade of their existing playground into a natural play area, the school saw an opportunity to extend their revitalization efforts to the concrete yard. This previously overlooked area became the next candidate for an exciting playground transformation. The new playground design aimed to invite exploration and physical activity, promoting healthy play habits among the children. The transformation, accomplished within a week, had an immediate and profound impact.

Play Video

Camelia enthusiastically reports on the children’s reaction: “Our youngest children really love it. They love how there are, you know, the obstacle courses and the different heights where they love to explore.”

Playground Elements that Kids Love

The new playground, designed with children’s interests in mind, features a variety of components including slides, hills to climb on, and huts for those quieter moments. “And we’ve done some writing last week, in fact, about the new playground. The children talked about, you know, how they loved to play on the slide. They loved the little hill that they can climb on, and they love the hut that they can sit in.”

Not only does the new space provide children with a safer, more enjoyable place to play, but it also serves as a springboard for classroom activities. Children’s love for the playground transcends the playtime, transforming into a source of inspiration for their academic projects.

"This is a very cool playground that our children really love exploring."

The Enduring Impact

A week after the introduction of the new playground, Camelia and her colleagues are observing that the children’s enthusiasm for their new playground shows no sign of waning. “Our children have been telling us how much they love the playground,” she says, “Overall, I think this is a very cool playground that our children really love exploring, and they will continue to love exploring on the playground.”

Not only has this project improved the daily lives of students at Mission Heights Primary School, but it’s also set a positive example for other institutions struggling with similar issues. The concrete-to-playground transformation is a testament to the power of creative, child-centred thinking in education.

Camelia concludes, “And I think it’s highly recommended.” With her endorsement and the clear delight of the children who play there, the new playground is an undeniable success, underscoring the importance of play in children’s development and how educational institutions can facilitate it. Mission accomplished!

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St Patrick’s School, Te Awamutu

St Patrick’s School, Te Awamutu

Natural Play Equipment are simple, but engage children imagination and problem solving skills.Natural Play Equipment are simple, but engage children imagination and problem solving skills.

"We were really keen on creativity and imagination. We were looking for something really different."

St Patrick's Catholic School
Te Awamutu
Circa budget:

In Te Awamutu, New Zealand, Saint Patrick’s Catholic School is charting its own path in the realm of children’s play spaces. This isn’t a story about the traditional playgrounds we all know, filled with swings and monkey bars. It’s about a school challenging the norms to create a new narrative for their playgrounds.

When the school’s senior playground fell into disrepair, Principal Shelley Fitness didn’t opt for a like-for-like replacement. She envisioned a different kind of play space – one that emphasized creative play, physical strength development, and appealed to all ages. Creo, with its non-traditional approach, was chosen for the task.

Play Video

Creo’s methodology was both collaborative and innovative. We worked with the school’s playground committee to understand the unique requirements, aligning their design with the school’s ethos. For Shelly and her team, what set Creo apart was their use of technology – providing not just blueprints but a virtual walkthrough. This brought the school’s vision to life, aiding their leadership in presenting the plan to the board and PTA.

The construction phase, a crucial stage where many projects can falter, was handled professionally. Creo created an isolated worksite, reducing the impact on the school’s daily operations and addressing safety concerns. Their regular communication with the school ensured the project moved smoothly towards completion.

"One thing we've really noticed is that the older kids play with the little kids, so it's no longer the senior playground and junior playground,"

Upon unveiling the new playground, there was a transition period as the children adjusted to the new play space. It was a departure from the familiar, but its uniqueness soon found favour. The space now sees children of all ages interacting and playing together, a far cry from the previous segregated setup.

The fresh approach taken by Saint Patrick’s Catholic School and Creo has drawn interest from other educational institutions. This playground, built on the pillars of creativity, strength, and inclusivity, has carved a new path in play space design.

This experience has underscored that change can sometimes be met with apprehension, but with careful planning, collaboration, and a bit of creative courage, new norms can be established – even on a playground. It serves as a reminder to other schools considering similar projects that innovation, while challenging, can offer exciting and rewarding outcomes.

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Elm Park School

Elm Park School

Full Service playground design and build company can work from surface to playground equipment manufacturing.Full Service playground design and build company can work from surface to playground equipment manufacturing.
Proper shade prevent wet pour rubber surfacing from getting hot.Proper shade prevent wet pour rubber surfacing from getting hot.
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“We decided to go with Creo because they were really interested in what made Elm Park unique to us.”

Elm Park School
Circa budget:

Elm Park School, a diverse community nestled in the heart of Auckland, found themselves facing an all-too-common problem: an outdated, 30-year-old playground. Deputy Principal Dave Walsh, a 26-year veteran of the school, describes the old space: “It was the old-style type of playground with, you know, climbing frames, the old woodchip bark.” The area, shaded by large trees, was also unsuitable for grass growth, which led to a dusty or muddy terrain depending on the weather.

The Promise of Transformation

The school knew they needed a change, and that’s when they found Creo, who specialise in play space design. Principal Sarah Baleicakau explains, “We decided to go with Creo because they were really interested in what made Elm Park unique to us.” Creo promised a design that would incorporate the school’s core values of respect, responsibility, and resilience, turning the space into more than just a playground – it would be a place where these values were nurtured and developed.

Managed risk is a key component of learing-focused playgrounds
The Project Begins From the outset, Creo impressed the school with their professionalism and dedication. “Health and safety was planned down to the detail,” Baleicakau recalls, noting that the worksite manager was always on-site and communication was consistently open and effective. A Nod to the Past Creo’s design didn’t just focus on the future. They suggested refurbishing and incorporating a 50-year-old climbing frame into the new design, preserving a piece of the school’s history. “That made it just that little bit more special,” Baleicakau notes, highlighting the project’s emphasis on sustainability.

Multi-Purpose and Multi-Functional

The transformed space is more than just a playground. It is now a multi-purpose area that promotes outdoor learning, physical education, and even confidence-building. “We know that learning just doesn’t take place inside the classroom,” explains Baleicakau. The playground has become a space for education outside the traditional classroom setting.

A Job Well Done

Upon completion, the playground received rave reviews from students and staff alike. “The children are absolutely thrilled with the playground. The staff are ecstatic,” shares Walsh. The space is not only used extensively but has added significant aesthetic value to the school environment.

“Creo was outstanding. They were professional, and their craftsmanship was second to none. We felt at ease at all times.” Sarah Baleicakau, Principal Elm Park School.

Looking Ahead

Elm Park School’s experience with Creo was overwhelmingly positive. As Baleicakau states, “Creo was outstanding. They were professional, and their craftsmanship was second to none. We felt at ease at all times.” This success story serves as a shining example of how a well-executed play space transformation can have far-reaching impacts on a school’s community. For Elm Park School, this may just be the first of many projects with Creo.

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The Real Cost of Building a Playground in 2023

Lorna Irene Reserve Playground

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely curious about what it actually costs to building a playground in 2023. In this post, we aim to provide a comprehensive insight into the expenses associated with building a playground, and what factors can potentially affect this cost.

The figures we’ll discuss encompass the entire playground build – including:

  • Design.
  • Site de-establishment and re-establishment.
  • Demolition and removal of topsoil.
  • Levelling and compacting of new base course.
  • Supply and installation of play equipment.
  • Safety surfacing.
  • Shade and furniture.
  • Landscaping and planting.
  • Project and site management.

On average, the cost of constructing a playground varies depending on the size and intended purpose of the play area.

For instance, a typical school or apartment complex playground could cost anywhere between $150,000 and $350,000.

A neighbourhood playground, slightly larger in size and scale, may cost between $200,000 and $450,000.

More expansive community playgrounds can range from $400,000 to $900,000, while the most extensive and elaborate ‘destination’ playgrounds – the kind designed to attract visitors from all around – can cost between $1.5 million and $5 million.

Now, you might be wondering, what are the elements that can drive the cost up or down? Well, there are three significant factors that primarily influence the cost of a playground build:

  1. Type of Equipment: As one would expect, the type of play equipment installed has a substantial impact on the overall cost. In particular, taller equipment generally necessitates more safety surfacing underneath, which further adds to the cost.
  2. Safety Surfacing: The type of safety surfacing chosen can significantly affect the project’s expense. For instance, while woodchip surfacing is less costly, it requires continuous maintenance and monitoring for foreign objects. On the other hand, turf is more expensive initially but demands less upkeep. Poured rubber surfaces are great for accessibility and require little to no maintenance while adding extra play value through their potential for design integration. However, they tend to be more costly than both turf and woodchip options.
  3. Site Access and Condition: The ease of access to the site and the state of the existing environment play a critical role in determining project cost. If vehicle access is limited or non-existent, the cost of the project will likely rise. Additionally, if the site requires a large amount of demolition or dumping, these factors can significantly affect the budget. Hidden costs often lie in unanticipated issues like drainage problems or the need for retaining walls.

By understanding these cost determinants, you will be better equipped to estimate the budget for a playground build in 2023.

We hope this overview gives you a clearer idea of what it takes to create a playground and the factors that influence the cost.

Learn more:

Got dreams on Building a Playground?

Let’s turn them into reality! Book a free 15-minute session with our experts today. We’ll help you explore designs, discuss budgets, and answer your questions.

Book a meeting below, and let’s shape the future of play together. Your dream playground is just a chat away!


The Benefits of Partnering with a Playground Design and Build Company: The Creo Advantage

If you’ve ever contemplated the advantages of partnering with a design and build company for your playground project, you’re in the right place. Today, we’ll discuss six compelling reasons to choose a firm like Creo for your next playground build.

1. Expertise and Experience

When you work with a design and build company like Creo, you’re tapping into a rich reservoir of expertise and experience. Over the years, we’ve mastered the art and science of designing, constructing, and installing playgrounds that adhere to strict safety standards and regulations. We’ve also excelled in crafting inclusive and accessible playgrounds that address the needs of all users. Our experience in the field allows us to navigate the complexities of the playground construction process with finesse and ensure a successful outcome.

2. One-Stop Shop

We provide a holistic approach to playground creation, offering our clients a seamless one-stop shop service. This encompasses every aspect of the playground project from the initial design, site preparation, and equipment installation to final inspections. By entrusting the entirety of the project to us, our clients save time, effort, and money.

3. Customization

Every community is unique, and we respect that diversity by working closely with our clients to customize the playground to align with specific needs and preferences. Our design team collaborates with clients to bring their vision to life, ensuring the final product is safe, accessible, and within budget.

Lorna Irene Reserve Playground – A testament to Creo’s expertise, this award-winning playground showcases our commitment to safety, accessibility, and inclusivity, while encapsulating the joy of play.
4. Time-Saving

Working with us isn’t just about creating fantastic playgrounds – it’s also about saving valuable time. We handle every aspect of the project, meaning our clients don’t have to juggle multiple contractors. This streamlined process allows our clients to focus on other important tasks while we manage the playground project.

5. Cost-Effective

Through our expansive network, we have access to a wide range of equipment and materials suppliers, ensuring we can find the best fit for each project’s budget. We work diligently to create a playground that fits within our client’s financial framework, delivering quality without compromising cost-efficiency.

6. Professionalism

As a professional company, we prioritize safety, regulation, and quality in all our projects. We strive to deliver every project on time and on budget, maintaining a high level of professionalism throughout the process.

In conclusion, partnering with a design and build company like Creo offers you the advantage of expertise, convenience, customization, cost-effectiveness, and professionalism. If you’re embarking on a playground project, consider the many benefits of entrusting the job to a company that’s dedicated to meeting your needs in the most efficient and effective manner possible. We hope this gives you a better idea of the unique benefits offered by a design and build company like Creo. Thanks for your time, and we look forward to bringing your playground vision to life!



A Win for Inclusive Play: Lorna Irene Reserve Playground Takes Playground of the Year Award!

Lorna Irene Reserve Playground

We are tickled pink to announce that the Lorna Irene Reserve Playground project we designed and built for the Kapiti Coast District Council has been awarded Playground of the Year at the prestigious Recreation Aotearoa Awards.

This accolade is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion poured into this project by every member of our team at Creo, in partnership with Kapiti Coast District Council.


The 2023 Playground of the Year - Lorna Irene Reserve Playground, where accessibility meets innovation and fun!
The 2023 Playground of the Year – Lorna Irene Reserve Playground, where accessibility meets innovation and fun!


Click here to check out our case study for the award-winning Lorna Irene Reserve Playground.

The Lorna Irene Reserve Playground was a project close to our hearts, driven by the desire to create an inclusive, accessible, and engaging play space. We are immensely proud that Recreation Aotearoa, the leading professional organisation for the recreation industry in New Zealand, has recognised ours, and the council’s efforts.

The Lorna Irene Reserve Playground is more than just a playground – it’s a testament to the principles of universal design. Working hand in hand with the Kapiti Coast District Council, disability advocates, and the local community, we ensured that every element of the playground was designed with accessibility and inclusivity in mind.

Key features of the playground include wheelchair-accessible equipment, such as a seesaw and tower, allowing children of all abilities to engage in fun and physical play. The playground also offers sensory play opportunities, appealing to children’s curiosity and exploration while also catering to children with varying sensory needs.

But the playground is not just about play equipment – it’s about creating a safe, welcoming space where all children and their families can come together, share experiences, and build a sense of community.

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Recreation Aotearoa for this honour, to Kapiti Coast District Council for their unwavering support and collaboration, and to the tireless disability advocates who guided us in designing a playground for everyone.

This award serves as an inspiration for us at Creo to continue designing and creating spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also functional, accessible, and inclusive.

As we celebrate this success, we also look forward to the future, eager to continue our work in creating meaningful spaces that contribute to the well-being of all communities.

To see more of our work, please visit our projects page where you can find photos, videos, and more from many of our recent projects.

-Team Creo

WanaExcel B4 School

WanaExcel B4 School

A childcare playground can have tunnels, mound and tracks.A childcare playground can have tunnels, mound and tracks.

WanaExcel B4 School: pushing the boundaries in immersive educational play spaces.

WanaExcel B4 School
Circa budget:

When Josh Thomas and his family set out to create a transformative children’s play space for their family-run business, WanaExcel B4 School, they dreamed of something beyond the ordinary. Their vision was to convert an unassuming warehouse into a dynamic wonderland where children could explore real-life experiences in a safe, interactive, and engaging manner.

“We constantly want to push the boundaries and have the best of everything that we possibly can,” shared Josh Thomas, one of the directors at WanaExcel B4 School.

Partnering with Creo, they embarked on a journey that would redefine what a children’s play space could be. This wasn’t going to be just another playground; it was a venture to build a miniature world – a unique realm where the boundaries of imagination could stretch and morph.

The warehouse needed to transform into an “indoor-outdoor” play space, encompassing elements that represented the real world. This meant creating a mini ambulance, a store, a construction site, and even a mini-golf course. “Our whole concept is kind of letting kids live through real-life experiences,” Thomas elaborated.

However, this ambitious project was not without its challenges. Creating a dynamic space that would continue to enthral children who come regularly required some clever thinking. The solution lay in incorporating flexible play spaces for interchangeable play elements that could be adjusted to provide a fresh experience over time.

Moreover, the intricacies of playground regulations presented a daunting hurdle. But Creo, with their expertise in navigating the New Zealand Playground Standards, ensured that the play space was not only compliant but also safe and engaging.

“The other thing that was really good for us was that Creo really knew what they were doing in terms of regulations.” – Josh Thomas, Managing Director

Maintenance and durability were other critical concerns. To ensure the space remained as captivating over time as on day one, Creo designed it to be easy to maintain and used materials that could endure the test of time.

The result is an immersive, dynamic play space that exceeded even the high expectations of the founders. “We’re here and couldn’t be happier!” Thomas expressed. The space has been a hit with both parents and children alike, quickly becoming the highlight of the centre.

“We’re here and couldn’t be happier! – Josh Thomas, Managing Director

The success of the WanaExcel B4 School project is a testament to the power of innovative design, a clear vision, and an unwavering commitment to quality and safety. It is a shining example of what can be achieved when we push the boundaries of what a children’s play space can be.

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One School Global Campus

One School Global Campus

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A brand-new play space for the students at One School Global Campus in Gore 

One School Global Campus
Circa budget:

One School Global Campus is a brand-new learning environment for children in the academic years of 3 to 13. This new school in Gore serves students from Dunedin all the way through to Invercargill by providing a safe space to learn, grow, and play.  

In 2022, the school teamed up with Creo to design and build a play space for the new school. Together they created a space that was safe, full of activity, could challenge students of all ages, and was diverse and inclusive for their school community. The new play area features swings, play structures, balance play, mounds, and comfortable safety surfacing to cushion all the bumps and falls that are sure to take place in the playground.  

Principal Sarah Gillbert explains that the space is full of activities and energy that encouraged the students to get creative and push themselves. “Our students like to challenge themselves… It’s great [the playground] because it offers that little bit of risk that children love, but it’s perfectly safe for them to use.” 

A standout feature in the play area is the safety surfacing installed in the space. The rubber surface provides the students with the opportunity to take risks, push themselves, and get creative with their play while knowing they are protected from those trips and falls. “The surfacing is nice and spongy. It’s perfectly safe for our students to play.”  

“It’s great because it offers that little bit of risk that children love, but it’s perfectly safe for them to use.” 

The play space has a range of height play options which Sarah explains that the kids at her school love. The variety of climbing opportunities throughout the playground keeps students entertained and encourages physical activity and competition. A range of balance play options can also be found in the playground, with mounds, and steppers scattered around the space, creating fun games, and challenges, pushing kids to get creative with their playtime.  

Our students absolutely love it. Every day there is laughter and lots of play going on in our playground. 

The new playground has been an absolute hit with students, and Sarah explains that the new space has been a great addition to the school. The students love it, and there is always laughter and play going on in the playground.  

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eBook: Creo Portfolio March 2023

In our latest Creo portfolio, we explore 14 awesome playgrounds from around New Zealand and introduce you to Creo Creations, our locally-made playground equipment.

How to maintain your playground

As a school, childcare centre, council, or holiday park, you have a responsibility to ensure that the play spaces in your care are well maintained and looked after.

Playgrounds add so much value and fun, but to keep them safe and looking fresh, they require routine check-ups. So, today we are here to explore some easy and simple ways to maintain your playground.

Click here to download the Creo “How to Build a Playground in 2022” Guide

Equipment inspection

The first thing is equipment. It’s important to have routine equipment inspections to check for wear and tear. This means checking for things like loose bolts, cracks in plastic parts, or any other signs of damage. If you notice any of these it’s important to address them right away. Whether that’s by doing it yourself (if possible) or calling your playground equipment installers.

Remove sharp edges:

Another step in your playground maintenance routine should be checking and removing any sharp or hazardous objects. This includes things like broken glass on equipment or surfacing, protruding nails or screws, and any other objects that can cause injury.

Compliant Surface Depth:

Frequently checking on your surface is another important part of adequately maintaining your playground. It’s important to make sure that all loose surfacing like woodchip, sand or gravel is at the appropriate depth and compliant in relation to your equipment height. Loose surfacing needs to be topped up or refilled frequently to meet safety requirements, so it’s your responsibility to keep on top of it all.

Maintain water features:

If you have water features in your playground, like fountains or sprinklers, make sure that you are frequently checking them for any damage, leaking, rust, or blockages. This might also mean inspecting your drainage systems are all in good working order.

Clean Equipment:

As part of your regular playground maintenance, you should be cleaning and sanitising equipment after heavy use or weather events that might cause debris and contamination in your playground. Doing this will help keep your playground clean and ensure that it’s safe for children to play on.

Keep a clean environment:

The areas surrounding your playground are just as important as the playground itself. Take some time to check up on the fencing, entry/exit points, and landscaping surrounding your space. Remove debris and hazardous objects, and make sure there’s nothing sticking out that could cause injury.

By keeping on top of these things and doing regular checks of your playground you can make sure that your public spaces stay safe, clean, and fun.


If you’d like to talk to someone about a future project or would like a concept designed for your space, give us a call on 0800 000 334, or book a 15-minute ideas session with one of our consultants.