Run Report

Foster parkrun recap

Here’s a run recap of my visit to Foster parkrun on December 19, 2020.

“You’re going where?” When I told friends I was spending the weekend before Christmas in Rolleston that was the general reaction I got.

It was closely followed by “why?”.

Of course, to non-parkrun folk, saying you were travelling all the way from Rotorua to just outside of Christchurch in order to run a 5km, that is not only free but is on every Saturday, sounds very odd.

But I know that other parkrunners, especially those who tour, get it.

My son didn’t quite get it, but he views parkrun as something that his mum does every Saturday regardless of where we are, and that we go to places just for parkrun and everything else is a bonus.

I tend to do a lot of my tourism solo, but on this trip I decided to bring along my almost 9-year-old son, Axel.

Foster parkrun’s Event Directors Greg and Suzy Peterson had told me there was an amazing playground – and they have two young daughters – so I knew there would be other children there.

Getting there

We flew from Rotorua to Christchurch on the Friday lunch service. It took about 90 minutes, and because it was lunchtime we brought a packed lunch on the plane.

When we landed our bag was first on the carousel (and again on our return flight home!) so we were outside fairly quickly. We found one of the Pop-Up Penguins, which would be a main feature of our weekend away, and then got the shuttle to the car rental hire office.

I used RAD Car Rentals and booked a smallish car. I was expecting a Nissan Tiida, but ended up with a Latio (a sedan).

Foster parkrun start

Our first stop was the International Antarctic Centre. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years but the opportunity has never arisen. It was the perfect first stop with a child in tow.

After a couple of hours here (highly recommend it, by the way, and would visit again), we found some more penguins before driving to Rolleston.

I’d booked a room on booking.com, kind of like an Air BNB option, rather than staying in a motel. It’s suitable for someone travelling alone, as a couple or if you’re a parent travelling with a child.

Dinner was curry from A Pocket Full of Spices, which turned out to be beside Foster Park (not the closest Indian restaurant to our accommodation, but the reviews were good).


The parkrun course is in a purpose-built park for the new town of Rolleston. As well as the footpaths it has sports facilities for a variety of codes, including hockey, softball and rugby, as well as an amazing playground and a new indoor sports facility under construction.

I liked that there were water fountains in the park, as it was so warm I needed to stop at one about halfway around. There were also sprinklers going, which was very welcome!

It felt flat and was easy to follow with lots of little cones on the ground. I didn’t stop for photos, but the cones have the names of other parkrun courses in New Zealand written on them. I didn’t spot Puarenga, but I was assured it was there.

As it was the week before Christmas there were people dressed up in Christmas costume and others on holiday from other parts of New Zealand.

After the run I took Axel over to the playground, where we could have easily spent the next couple of hours enjoying the equipment.

As it was we left after half an hour to go to Robert Harris Cafe for refreshment.

A lot of parkrunners were also there. I didn’t feel like a full breakfast, instead enjoyed a date and orange scone with a hazelnut frappe. Axel had a chocolate milkshake.

There were 67 finishers, so this is a nice intimate parkrun where you don’t feel lost in a sea of runners.

But if you don’t like running by yourself then it’s probably not the run for you. I was mostly on my own but with runners slightly ahead and behind.

After parkrun

The next 24 hours were spent looking for penguins.

We drove into Christchurch CBD, via Lincoln, to go to the Margaret Mahy playground. It was a very hot day (33C) and there wasn’t much shade.

As we’re both red-haired and fair-skinned I didn’t want to risk burning.

Outside Rolleston College, spotted on our way to the cafe!

We met up with a friend in the Botanic Gardens and spent the afternoon collecting penguins in that vicinity. The next morning we drove back into the CBD to find some more. All up we found 62 out of 120).

Saturday night dinner was at Little India, Axel opted for Indian again so we tried the place nearest to where we stayed. I’d revisit both.

Final thoughts

If running Foster parkrun you don’t need to stay in Rolleston. In fact staying in Christchurch is probably just as easy, though it all depends on how much of an early start you want.

We left our accommodation at 7.40am and arrived five minutes later.

Hiring a car is advisable, getting around was pretty easy using the maps app on my phone, even with Christchurch’s one-way system.  

Walking around the CBD looking for penguins also gave me appreciation for how much there was to see in Christchurch. The next time I have time to spend there, I’d like to revisit the Riverside Market, wander through the Botanic Gardens and go to the art gallery.

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