On a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s Botanical Gardens, you’ll be inspired and awed. You’ll find curious plant collections, stunning landscape design, peaceful spots to unwind, often with sustainability top of mind. Throughout New Zealand, botanical gardens are unique to their regions and to the creative minds behind them – from the lush New Zealand natives of Zealandia to the international time-travel of Hamilton Gardens to the historic Wellington Botanical Gardens. Here at Aston Norwood, we know our gardens, and we’ve put together a list of the must-see botanical gardens of New Zealand.
Wellington Botanical Gardens
The well-established Wellington Botanical Gardens (since way back in 1868) are smack bang in the middle of Wellington – 25 hectares of botanical collections, all on a slope that gives you impressive views of Wellington City and the harbour. Right above the CBD, you’re close to shopping areas and parliament. The cable car will take you from Lambton Quay up to the top of the gardens, and you can walk back down through the gardens. The gardens include protected native forest has a vibe of being a million miles away from the city, huge conifers, many dazzling flower beds, the Lady Norwood rose garden with 106 formal rose beds, the tropical Begonia House, and the Discovery Garden for children (which has lots of great learning about the uses of plants, from medicine to food, fibre and construction). And of course, it has a fantastic duck pond.
Zealandia is an incredible example of what is possible for New Zealand flora and fauna when introduced predators are removed: we’re all very familiar with the success stories of the kaka, kiwi, tieke, tuatara and other animals thriving in this fully-fenced urban sanctuary in Wellington, but the flora sustaining them all is incredible. Mamaku and ponga tree ferns tower, clematis climbs, kiekie and harakeke rustle, kawakawa clusters, and supplejack sprawls. The kowhai trees thrive, with their new growth able to flourish without browsers like possums and rabbits. The largest fuchsia species in the world, Kotukutuku/tree fuchsia grows tall on quickly without possums that can destroy whole trees elsewhere, and you’ll see the kotukutuku hollows used as nests by kaka and kakariki. Recently, the extremely rare, endemic parasitic plant Pua o te Reinga (Dactylanthus taylorii) was planted at Zealandia, with seeds from Pureora Forest Park. Zealandia is a jungle that makes up one of the lushest collections of New Zealand native plants you’ll find in the country.
Auckland Botanic Gardens
The Auckland Botanic Gardens are 64 hectares of gently contoured amazingness conveniently on the major arterial route of State Highway 1. They hold unique gardens, landscapes and 10 hectares of native forest. The plants are from northern New Zealand as well as from all around the world (some that are threatened, and enough diversity that there is something in flower all year round). Scattered throughout you’ll find incredible sculpture by New Zealand artists – with more being added regularly. These gardens are very child-friendly – children and parents will love the Potter Children’s Garden: it showcases the amazing ways plants adapt all over the world, with a replica desert garden, jungle, meadow and bog, it introduces sustainable rainwater collection and growing green roofs, and they can explore connections in nature such as the special relationship between the kereru and the puriri. Other gardens include the Gondwana Arboretum chocka with ancient spiky curiosities, an African Plants Garden, the Spring Blossom Valley and many many more. There is also a lovely café and an events centre.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
A survivor of the Christchurch earthquakes, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are 21 hectares of incredible gardens right in the middle of the city, next to Hagley Park and within easy walking distance of the CBD and hotels etc. Because they were established so long ago (1863), the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are absolutely filled with mature trees and historic features such as the 1926 Bandsmen’s Memorial Rotunda. The Avon River flows right through the park: any garden with its own river is amazing in our books. Look online for the seasonal highlights https://ccc.govt.nz/parks-and-gardens/christchurch-botanic-gardens/attractions/seasonal-highlights/ – whether you’ll be seeing the golden autumn ginkgos or the roses and azaleas in full bloom.
On the banks of the Waikato River, the publicly owned Hamilton Gardens are world class. Since the 1960s the area has been converted from a rubbish dump to a magical, award-winning garden that has become the Waikato’s most visited tourist attraction. Rather than having plant collections, the 54 hectares of planted land tells stories of gardening through the ages, the connection between people and plants: you can explore a Chinese Sung dynasty garden, then hop across to one from the Italian Renaissance, or the Indian Char Bagh Garden, or into a surreal fantasy garden with seriously imaginative topiary. Great any time of the year.
Here at Aston Norwood Gardens we are located in the beautiful countryside on the State Highway between Wellington and Hawke’s Bay, just 10 minutes north of Upper Hutt. Planted 25 years ago, our trees have just matured, including our 300 gorgeous cherry trees. These trees burst into blossom in spring, drawing visitors far and wide to walk under the pink blossoms in a very Japan-like experience (in fact, during this time our café serves Japanese foods and drink to add to the Sakura/cherry theme). The Rimutaka Stream winds through the gardens, crossed by some of our picturesque bridges, and throughout the rambling 5 hectares you’ll come across leafy avenues, wide open spaces, a maze, two gorgeous ponds (complete with ducks and eels) and a waterfall – and so much more. The garden centre is a great finale to the experience.
We hope you manage to tick some of these incredible gardens off your list, and we look forward to hosting you here at Aston Norwood.
As a local New Zealand family owned and operated business we are proud ensure D.I.Y is kept in our DNA as can be seen when walking through the Gardens, Nursery and Garden Center. Never ones to let a hard tasks pass us by we tackle them head on and learn as much as we can as fast as we can to try and create a positive change and encourage people to fall in love with the outdoors again.