New Brighton’s Beachside playground opened to the public in December 2017 and is the first aspect of the New Brighton Regeneration Project to be completed.  The playground has a mix of wet and dry play areas and novel play equipment including a large rope climbing frame, water cannons, musical toys and a large waka that children can climb along with a 600-kilogram ‘clone’ whale for the paddling pool (replacing New Brighton’s original, iconic whale). It also features ‘art in the concrete’ - an etched pattern in the hard surfaces featuring designs by New Brighton’s renowned sand artist Peter Donnelly.  Peter’s ‘Diva’s’ can be seen integrated into the woven rope formation concept derived from the Matapopore cultural narrative.

 The New Brighton Regeneration Project, driven by Development Christchurch Ltd (DCL), is a series of projects aimed at revitalising Christchurch’s famous surfing seaside suburb.  First to get attention has been the very tired, old playground with Christchurch’s Hot Pools next on the list. The project also involved working with the private sector, landowners, businesses, investors and the community to successfully revitalise New Brighton’s commercial centre through a combination of investment and development. 

Mark Huxtable, Landscape Architect for Glasson Huxtable Landscape Architects, talks about the first stage of the project and working with Firth to achieve the ‘art in the concrete’ concept. “There were quite a few design teams involved in getting this part of the project to completion. It has been a team effort. Once we came up with the idea of sandblasting a pattern into the concrete we worked up initial concepts and then met with the artist.” 

“We worked very closely with Firth to get the bespoke concrete mix and colour right and designed up the other hardscape elements for the playground which included Firth’s Holland paver in Black Sands ” says Mark. “Matapopore Charitable Trust was also consulted for the design of the soft fall rubber pour surface.”


The significance behind the pattern used for the concrete etching is that it is based on the artwork of local artist Peter Donnelly who has been a feature of the New Brighton beach for many years,” explains Mark.  “He has produced more than 1000 works of sand art. He’s now retired from sand art, so this was an opportunity for him to make a permanent work of art into the concrete, next to the beach where he did much of his work. When I met him to discuss the idea, along with Tim Anthon from DCL, he told me that working with concrete was something he’s always wanted to do.”

Following the initial concrete pour, and dash to get the playground open for the deadline, there was a pause for a year and a change in the project lead, with AW Architects leading the design for the pools building. “It was decided that they would work up the final design to be sandblasted, with the artist, based on his artwork.” 


A year after the playground was opened to the public stage one is now complete with the public frequenting the new park in droves.

Normally Peter works with a rake and a stick and the beautiful works of art can be gone within a few hours – often before they are finished. But in this case his art has been permanently etched in something that will last – concrete.

“Stage two which includes the development of the hot pools and surrounds should be completed by the end of the year,” says Mark. “We have also selected Firth products for this part of the development which will include the pool surround.”

Watch this space for the completion of Christchurch’s Hot Pools.

To view a video and aerial view of the playground in action click here


Principal:                            Development Christchurch (DCL

Artist:                                  Peter Donnelly 

Architect:                            AW Architects 

Landscape Architect:        Glasson Huxtable Landscape Architects

Location:                             New Brighton Foreshore, Marine Parade

Product:                              Firth Certified Concrete®
                                             Firth's Holland Pavers