Merrilands Domain to Become a Magical Park

02 March 2017

Fairies, kittens and dinosaurs will be running around Merrilands Domain from March 4-12 and it’s up to our tech-savvy kids to track them down.

As part of Parks Week 2017, New Plymouth District Council is turning Audrey Gale Reserve within the domain into a magical, virtual world where local kids can be part of the world’s first digital playground.

Run through smartphones or tablets, the Magical Park app is aimed at six to 11-year-olds and designed to encourage the use of urban parks, along with promoting physical activity.

Kids will be able to choose from two games that augment the real-world field of view with visuals on their device, turning the park into a fantasy world where the aim is to collect eggs while avoiding dinosaurs, or gather kittens without being caught by the bad fairy. 

NPDC Parks and Open Spaces Manager Stuart Robertson says the reserve would be the only park in the region offering the Magical Park game.

“We see the initiative as an exciting and interactive way to provide our community with a great opportunity to learn, exercise and have plenty of fun at one of our picturesque park venues,” he says.

“We know this is going to be a lot of fun for the kids – and possibly a few adults – and we look forward to seeing the fairies and dinosaurs come to life in our own back yard.”

Developed by Geo AR Games, safety was a key focus when developing the app and deciding which parks would be suitable to host the game.

Each park has been vetted to ensure a positive play environment, while the app is geo-fenced – meaning as soon as a child leaves the pre-set boundary of the game, the content will disappear. 

The New Zealand Recreation Association has been behind the push of the app into New Zealand, and Chief Executive Andrew Leslie said he was looking forward to seeing Magical Parks springing up around the country during Parks Week.

“We believe combining outdoor play with technology can motivate kids to get off the couch and be more physically active. 
More…
“We can’t reverse technology or progress, nor should we try. What we can do is create healthy relationships with technology by using the screen to get kids outdoors and moving around.”

The app is free to download, uses little data and is compatible with Android devices, iPhone 5 or newer and iPad 3. It will go live on Saturday 4 March and be available until Sunday 12 March. 

For an example of what will be seen at Audrey Gale Reserve, check out the video here.