Text and photography by David Read
First published in Manual #34, June 2009.
Sometimes the setting of a park can be as important as how it functions. Pukerua Bay’s new skate park, which has replaced the old ’70s park that was arguably New Zealand’s (if not the southern hemisphere’s) oldest surviving skate facility, achieves in both areas. Placed directly opposite the local train station and suitably sheltered amongst native trees, it is easily accessible and protected from the wind (an almost unavoidable element in Wellington) in a secluded and picturesque spot. It even has a view of Kapiti Island!
Although it’s sad to see the old park go, it truly was a relic. Previous attempts to update the old bowl failed miserably, meaning that local skaters were forced to skate local schools or the tennis courts – something that ultimately resulted in conflict. With the popularity of skateboarding at the level it is, it’s essential that local councils provide such facilities, although it will never totally stop skaters grazing elsewhere (but that’s just the nature of skateboarders).
Early in 2007 a group of local skaters and parents – spurred on by Karen Apperly, a Pukerua Bay local with experience in dealing with council funding bodies – formed PKBSK8 Inc. The association rallied the locals for support and, with the help of councillor Ian Barlow, managed to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the new skate park project. A design by Campbell Johnson (Washington Reserve in Christchurch, Nelson’s new skate park) was refined based on the local skaters’ original drawings, and Tom Smithers was awarded the contract. He agreed to build the park’s many transitions on-site rather than with dated prefabricated designs.
The result is a park that mostly makes good use of the existing site and although it’s heavily weighted towards transition skaters the park still has a good portion of street-focused elements. Best of all, the flow of the site harks back to the original bowl and makes for fun flowing lines, while offering some well-placed ledges and rails for the more street inclined skaters.
How to find it:
Conveniently, the skate park is situated directly opposite Pukerua Bay train station, so take it easy and take the train. If travelling by car, turn off State Highway One on to Gray St, situated 2km north of Whenua Tapu Cemetery, and just south of the Pukerua Bay shops. Then hang a left on to Muri Road. You’ll see a playground directly ahead of you – the skate park is just beyond that.
Pukerua Bay is 12km north of Porirua City Centre and 30km north of Wellington City. The train ride is a mellow 35 minutes from Wellington City, only a few minutes longer (or shorter) than the drive.
Closest skate shops:
Cheapskates Porirua, or Havoc at Coastlands Mall in Paraparaumu just 20 minutes north.
Other parks nearby:
There are a number of other parks in the Porirua region, from Te Rauparaha Arena in central Porirua to Whitby skate park, or for a retro experience check out Sievers Grove in Cannons Creek in the eastern suburbs, which is also one of the southern hemisphere’s oldest surviving skate parks. Just a short drive north on the beach at Paraparaumu there’s the old set-up at Maclean Park as well.
Manualmagazine.com for more photos