Sea turtles are a migratory species – known for being able to navigate 2000km ocean journeys with pinpoint accuracy, but it seems they are far less precise on land, with one of Tahunanui Playground’s turtles ending up lost in Blenheim.

Community Services Manager Roger Ball says staff noticed the turtle, which has four legs and might more accurately be described as a tortoise, was missing last week, but thought it had been relocated or taken away for restoration.

“Our Parks and Facilities Manager then got a call from Marlborough saying they’d found a rogue turtle at Pollard Park and wondered if it was ours.”
After identifying a photograph of the turtle a Council officer made the three hour round-trip to retrieve this important part of Nelson’s heritage.
“They’ve been around for more than 50 years, and we haven’t lost one yet. It weighs 100kg and has just made a 117km journey, which is a long way for a turtle over land, especially one with concrete feet.”
The turtles were part of the original playground at Tahunanui Reserve when it was constructed in 1963. The concrete train, whale, turtles, toadstools, and seals were all created by the Nelson Host Lions Club.
Long-time Nelson Lions member Peter Vining says Nelson had no playground at all at the time, prompting the club to take it on as a project.
“We were very fortunate to have a member, Heck Valk, who worked with concrete, and arranged for moulds to be produced for the turtle, concrete train, and toadstools, which were some of the first items to be installed.
The Playground, and its concrete menagerie, are still a popular destination for Nelson’s young people, which gives Lions Club members a great deal of satisfaction.
“There have been many occasions where have I personally spoken with adults who said the playground was one of the highlights of their childhood and now they find themselves bringing their grandchildren.”
Roger Ball says he’s relieved the turtles have been found, but would prefer amenities like this stay in Nelson.
“Thankfully, the turtle has been found safe and well. But please remember these parts of our heritage are for everyone in Nelson to enjoy, in this case especially the kids.”
“I’d like to thank Brad Molony at Marlborough District Council for spotting the turtle and getting in touch with us.”