All Together in Akaroa

All Together in Akaroa

Nestled beside the picturesque Akaroa harbour, Akaroa Playcentre provides a place of connection for families originating in every corner of the globe. I recently touched base with Erin Neufeld about her experiences being part of this special Playcentre community.

Akaroa and its surrounding bays are stunning, so it’s no wonder that people from all over the world choose to call this place home. The Playcentre itself overlooks Pavilion Recreation Ground and, as Erin informs me, is a mere 200 metres from the Childrens Bay Beach.

Erin describes living in Akaroa as ‘amazing’. “It has a way of collecting people with similar hopes and dreams. People pursuing a certain lifestyle” she says. “We feel very lucky to live where we do. We also have an amazing environment in which to do it. For our family, we are able to go out on the boat on a nice evening, take a picnic and eat it on an isolated beach”. It’s impossible not to feel envious.

Families at Akaroa Playcentre like to make the most of their idyllic surroundings by regularly taking their tamariki on outings. Recent excursions include visiting dairy farms, the local beach, kite flying at Heritage Park, and stopping in at the retirement home across the road to spend time with their elderly neighbours.

Akaroa Playcentre plays an essential social role for the families too. Erin notes “The isolation of our community and the surrounding bays, means several families travel quite long distances, up to 40 minutes on narrow, winding shingle roads. It also means Playcentre plays an important social role for many of the parents who come out, possibly the only social contact for the week sometimes.”

But it is perhaps the diversity of the community at Akaroa Playcentre that makes it most unique. “We have families from Canada, Germany, the UK, Japan, Norway, and, of course, New Zealand” Erin says. Playcentre provides a place for these people to come together and forge new networks. This is especially important when your original home is on the other side of the world.

Like many small communities, the parents involved in the Playcentre also take part in a wide range of professions and community activities. “We have parents involved in the police force, the local school, several local business, and a few farmers” comments Erin. This community spirit and diversity further enriches Akaroa Playcentre.

For the team at Akaroa Playcentre, even that regular chore of attending meetings seems enjoyable. “Our monthly meetings can be a highlight for some (like me), as it means an evening out at a local restaurant with cake and wine, and a good chatter planning for the centre”.

If the above has made you dream about a trip to the Peninsula, perhaps take a moment to pop into the Playcentre to say hello. Akaroa Playcentre is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9.15am - 12.15pm. Give them a call on 027 627 7458 or email akaroapc@gmail.com to arrange a visit.

If you need another excuse to visit, The Greatest Game of Tag ends in Akaroa on the 18th of March. Keep your eye on https://www.facebook.com/tag2play for more details about this upcoming celebration.

Frances Martin

Posted: Thursday 23 February 2017