The thousands of kids using Napier's new Anderson Park playground have chosen well.

It's been named by the New Zealand Recreation Association as winner of the Outstanding Park Award for 2018, even though it's been in use just three months of the year.

It was a "hotly contested" category of the awards which were presented in Auckland on Thursday, with public input and a design targeting all comers - from children to adults of the widest ranges of capabilities - pinpointed as giving the venture the nod ahead of its rivals.

Part of a multi-million upgrade of the 36ha of Anderson Park between Kennedy Rd and York Ave in Greenmeadows — a former racetrack which was once the home of legendary horse and 1904 English Grand National winner Moifaa — it was officially opened at the end of July.


Work had started last December, brought forward because of the popularity and anticipation for the project, replacing outdated facilities which struggled to meet health and safety standards.

Comprising climbing and sliding structures, flying foxes, swings, water play, functional artwork with messages in Braille and interactive elements, including a xylophone, a "musical bridge" and drums, the feature is a 10m tall tower from which a pair of tube slides radiate out.

But it is particularly noted for its accessibility for wheelchairs, a double-width slide to enable disabled to be accompanied by caregivers, and other similar innovations.

Its popularity preceded it, with hundreds of suggestions on a name being made before Napier City Council settled on retaining the park's name in the playground title.

The judges were particularly impressed by how wider stakeholder engagement and a "strong reference group" were used in developing the playground as the "first all-abilities destination playground of such size and scale in Hawke's Bay".

It was the only Hawke's Bay facility or project among the 12 awards winners at a ceremony which was attended by council director community services Antoinette Campbell.

She said the honour recognised "all the hard work" put in by all involved, and which had been recognised most by the numbers using the attraction.

A new toilet block is being built adjacent to the playground as part of the park development.