The Kiwi Big Backyard

The Kiwi Big Backyard

Up until the end of the 1980s, nearly all suburban houses in New Zealand had large grassy backyards. The quarter acre section was standard and commonly used for games, BBQ’s, birthdays, social gatherings, backyard cricket, gardening, cartwheels, connecting with nature, treasure hunts and much more.

However, homes on large sections put outward pressure on the urban fringe, pushing New Zealand’s cities to become some of the largest yet most sparsely populated in the world. While the quarter acre section is still the dream for some, modern realities necessitate that new developments plan for higher density living, often utilising a variety of smaller section sizes, townhouses and apartments. This means many people have lost much of the outdoor space they once enjoyed at home.


Thankfully in recent years we have seen planners, architects and developers putting a greater focus on these spaces in a wider community setting. People still need the space for all of the activities that used to be the domain of the backyard. Here at Playground People we like to call these new spaces “the Kiwi Big Backyard”.

They can come in all different shapes and sizes but the one element that ties them together is they become the focal point of these new urban villages. This is especially important in green field developments where a mix of people are brought together forming brand new communities. These spaces can no longer simply be your traditional slide and a set of swings, they now encompass a wide range of facilities where everyone can meet and get to know each other within their shared recreational space.

While each space will be different, there are common activities that are usually catered for within these new community spaces. Typically, we see shared 3m wide pathways allowing for walking together, bike riding, push-chairs and accessibility vehicles. There are social gathering spaces with seating, tables, rubbish bins, drinking fountains and bathrooms. There are spaces for people to be active, from playgrounds for the kids, causal sport areas (kick a ball spaces, basketball half-courts etc.), walking and jogging tracks, right through to fitness stations. Depending on the local area there may also be spaces to connect with nature through considered planting, nature walks, ponds and streams, all of which also increase the biodiversity of the neighbourhood and provide habitats for native species. The bringing together of all these facilities create special community spaces that don’t just replace but also improve on the old backyard concept.

Playground People specialise in providing high quality New Zealand made or European designed playground and fitness equipment. We would love to talk with you about how we can help you create the next Kiwi Big Backyard.