There are many reasons to travel to New Zealand’s North Island. The scenery shouts “take photos of me” every where you turn, the food is delightful and the people are absolutely charming and friendly. There are bubbling geysers, mountain adventures and sheep dotting the lush green hills. And there is Hobbiton. (I’m sorry we didn’t go to Hobbiton but I did watch my first Lord of the Rings movie while we were on our trip. If you have been to the movie set, please let me know if I missed out on life!) But no one told me that my dream perfect playground would be here too and that it would be next to a beautiful restaurant and a kids’ theatre studio that has live shows on weekends so the more I learned about Whoa Studios the more it seemed way more ‘us”. We were on a six week trip to Australia that ended up being a 5ish week trip to Australia with a handful of days on New Zealand’s North Island because we found a great airfare through Auckland that we couldn’t pass up. And this is how we spent our very last day.
Family Friendly Restaurant on New Zealand’s North Island
So where should I start? Can all modern family restaurants model after this one, please? Grounds is beautifully laid out with giant lights and architecturally pleasing but comfy seating and you can take out from their cafe menu or sit down at a table. There are kids’ meals and grownup meals with options like handmade noodles and beautiful vegetarian dishes as well. I actually wanted to lick my plate because the food was so tasty but I saved room for the popsicles that we walked by on our way to our table. The hubby and I had a few moments to ourselves because we purchased playbands for the kids to play outside on the playground and we were close enough that they could see us. The day we visited there was a torrential rain storm with giant gusty winds but that didn’t stop us one bit.
The Most Amazing Playground
Now the playground is what caught my eye when I was researching for the trip. I found it researching playground hashtags and this is probably the photo that made me want to get here ASAP. You see, I actually have been chasing this playground for a long time. I first saw it on pinterest years ago and we actually visited Hakone in Japan to try and see it too. Apparently the netting structure is crocheted by hand by an artist named Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam who is based in Canada, and I can’t imagine a more whimsical type of playground. Because it was a miserable wet and windy day too we had the whole playground to ourselves. Thankfully this part was undercover and when the rain finally stopped, the kids could explore the rest of the area. This was such a great way to spend a morning before a long airplane ride back to the US as the kids were able to get their energy out so I’m glad we saved this for our last day.
I’m not sure if my kids totally understand my obsession with playgrounds but I know they appreciate when we find amazing ones and they really enjoyed this space. I’m so thankful I finally found this “perfect playground” that I’ve been dreaming about forever and it was just as cool as I thought it was going to be and I’m glad my kids wanted to stay there for hours. As my guys inch closer to nearly 10 years old I’m not sure how many more playground days we really have left. I’m thankful for places like this one that allow families to enjoy time together and where kids of all ages can run, climb, imagine and then nourish their bodies with beautiful food.
(PS. Just take a look at the kids’ meal options. I love when restaurants offer kids options other than chicken nuggets and I am so thankful for restaurants that think about all their eaters. Yes, this truly was the perfect playground and perfect family restaurant. I wish I could travel back and experience it all again.)