Pukekura Park lights up for summer
15 Dec 2009
New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park, one of New Zealand’s best known gardens of national significance, is about to become a sparkling wonderland for the annual TSB Bank Festival of Lights.
Once the switch is flicked on Saturday (19.12.09), what is already a major tourist attraction by day instantly becomes a summer evening highlight for thousands of visitors who wander the fluorescent pebble paths between glowing plants and majestic trees, enjoying a variety of live entertainment.
Kiwi summer experience
Each year since 1957 parts of the 52ha park in the heart of New Plymouth city, have been transformed with special lighting displays and the festival has grown to become an essential part of the Kiwi summer experience.
More than 150,000 people attend the Pukekura Park festival each year to view the lighting display and enjoy free concerts featuring local, national and international performers.
The 2009 - 2010 season switch-on coincides with the much anticipated first New Zealand concert by Fleetwood Mac at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands on Saturday 19 December.
The dramatic lighting provides a spectacular backdrop for the Bowl of Brooklands outdoor sound stage which has a lake in front and a large grass amphitheatre.
More than 18,000 fans will flock to the unique venue each night for Fleetwood Mac’s two New Zealand concerts.
During the rest of the festival, two stages at the park will provide nightly entertainment in a varied programme that runs from 26 December until 31 January 2010.
Other special performances are scheduled for Waitangi weekend (6 - 7 February) when the festival lights are officially switched off.
The effect of the lighting display has added to Pukekura’s reputation as one of New Zealand’s most picturesque parks. With Mt Taranaki in the background and a wide variety of trees and unusual plants, waterfalls and lakes - the park is a dramatic setting for the lighting display.
While the many waterways reflect the colourful illuminations, structures such as the water wheel, fountains and historic band rotunda are also highlighted with special lighting.
Illuminated wooden rowboats that offer a romantic boating experience are another popular attraction.
More than 1,000 lights and 5km of cable are used to create the display and special features include a black light area and digital artwork projections.
The origins of the Festival of Lights date back to 1953 when a fountain with feature lights was installed in one of Pukekura Park’s lakes to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
The first illuminations were created in the park in 1957, and the Festival of Lights started in 1993 has grown to become Taranaki’s longest running and most successful festival and arts event.
Pukekura Park is managed by the New Plymouth District Council and covers 52ha (120 acres) including the Brooklands garden estate, zoo and historic Gables colonial hospital.
Pukekura is a nationally significant garden with a large exotic specimen tree collection surrounded by luxuriant native bush. The park has been continuously developed since 1876.
The north - south linear shape follows a natural stream where a series of artificial lakes have been created at various points. Several streams flow through Pukekura, and volcanic ash deposits combined with even rainfall, mild winters and warm summer temperatures suit a range of species from around the world.
Pukekura is unique in offering a diverse range of landscapes from dense remnant native tawa - mahoe - pukatea forest to broad lawns with annual bedding displays and themed garden plantings. The native orchid and fern collection housed in a sunken conservatory is of particular interest.
An impressive outdoor sound stage and grassed amphitheatre provides a venue for summer-time concerts.
Brooklands garden estate has sweeping lawns, magnificent old trees and flower-filled borders. Boating on the fern fringed lake or quiet bush walks in the valleys are other attractions.
New Zealand - summer 2009/2010 highlights
New Zealand - 2009/2010 garden festivals
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