Pae Tākaro Place of Play


Establishing Ōtautahi Christchurch as a Capital of Urban Play.

In partnership with Christchurch City Council, Gap Filler is investing three years of energy and resources to make Ōtautahi a Capital of Urban Play. This programme comprises events, activations, urban interventions and installations that create a playful city for everyone. 

Welcome to the

Pae Tākaro Urban Play


Click on the map to the right to download your very own copy.


The Trail includes some of Gap Filler’s most popular projects like Dance-O-Mat and #chchswing, along with some new ideas inspired by the urban environment.  It’s totally free! Follow the map and make up your own play along the way, the walk is approximately 1.5km and suitable for all ages.

An aspiration for a playful city for all

Does play sound like a strange objective for a city? Or is this ringing true with your vision of future urban living? Gap Filler has been in the business of playful activation and placemaking for over a decade now and whilst we still have many questions, we are convinced that play has a vital role to play (pardon the pun) in city building.

In 2022, we opened the Pae Tākaro Place of Play headquarters at 153 High Street. Please drop in and find out more. There are lots of ways to get involved with this exciting project. 

The power of play

Over the years, we have discovered that play is the engine room of placemaking. Just as play can be the measure of a happy childhood, it is undoubtedly one of the keys to a happy city. Play is the powerful catalyst of imagination, storytelling, invention, exploration and collaboration, all the good stuff that can help us develop a better future.

Rising out of the rubble of the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, citizens showed that play was a conduit to resilience, community, identity and civic pride. We were left with physical gaps in the city, and together we filled them with fun. Not to make light of the cause of this new space, but to find purpose and redeem what was lost. Through open participation, temporary projects allowed people to be actively involved in the city’s recovery and reimagine a new city.

When given the opportunity, people chose to dance, experiment, create and play. Ōtautahi received international recognition for these pockets of play which included the Dance-O-Mat, Cycle Powered Cinema, Pallet Pavilion and Sound Garden. More important than that, people came back into the city centre, communities reconnected and collaborated, residents identified with the new place where they now found themselves living.

Over the last decade in Ōtautahi Christchurch, we have considered the purpose of a city, rethinking interaction with the built environment, exploring what helps people to become part of a community and inventing new ways to come together that bring life to the place where we find ourselves. The city has had the privilege of welcoming experts from all over the world to share their ideas and challenge us to fulfil the potential of our city.

The serious business of play

It’s true that Ōtautahi Christchurch is more playful than the average city and play has been proven to deliver numerous positive outcomes. So, why not get serious about harnessing the power of play into the continuing evolution of our city?  Let play break down barriers and include everyone in the planning of our city. Make a game of public consultation, so anyone can be part of the conversation. Experiment with temporary changes, allow for ‘what if?’ projects, play with potential. In the words of Einstein, ‘Play is the highest form of research,’ so let’s give ourselves permission to play because that’s how we learn and grow.  Can we dare to laugh at ourselves knowing that uninhibitedness and joy create an environment for innovation?

Opportunities to play

The more the merrier is most certainly our view on life. We want to provide opportunities to play for anyone and everyone to join in. It could be female empowerment in the form of free girl’s skating events, or the subtle subversion of yarn bombing in the middle of the night. The purpose could be finding beauty in shadows or consulting on the redesign of an inner-city street. There is room for all.

To find out more and get involved, check out our Portfolio page or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Because we’re serious about play, we’ve employed a whole person to coordinate play in Ōtautahi, and yes, she has the best job in the world!

Get in touch with our Urban Play Coordinator Kate Finnerty at or if you’re in town, pop into the Pae Tākaro Place of Play HQ at 153 High Street, Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Thanks to our Urban Play Partners for their support to make Ōtautahi Christchurch a world capital of Urban Play.