Hamilton Gardens I Creation and History

From rubbish dump to internationally renowned garden. Come explore the history of Hamilton Gardens.

In Pre-European times Te Parapara, a pa of Ngati Wairere, occupied the centre of the current site of Hamilton Gardens. The people of Ngati Wairere were renowned for their horticultural skill. Te Parapara became an important site for sacred practices related to the harvesting of food crops.

At the eastern end of Hamilton Gardens are the remains of the Narrows Redoubt, a British military post built in the early 1860s as a defensive position during the Waikato Land Wars. Hamilton East Cemetery was laid out in 1863.

In 1906 Bateson’s Nursery was established on northern edge of Hamilton Gardens. Bateson’s became the Municipal Nursery in 1951, and the site continues to provide most of Hamilton City’s public planting requirements. There was very little further development on the site until 1960. In the interim most of the Hamilton Gardens site was used for a go-kart track, netball courts, a dog dosing strip, a Council works depot and a municipal rubbish dump.
When Hamilton Gardens officially opened on 24th July 1960 it comprised only the Tropical Display House set within four acres of lawn. These original four acres and the Greenhouse have been preserved and incorporated into the current garden plan as ‘The Victorian Flower Garden’. The Rogers Rose Garden was developed for the first World Rose Convention in 1971. Most development of Hamilton Gardens has taken place since the early 1980s.

Hamilton Gardens is a conceptual garden that explores the context, history and meaning of gardens through time, and from around the world. It is internationally recognised for its unique concept and is the Waikato region’s most popular tourist destination.


Only five minutes drive from Hamilton’s CBD, the Gardens is open 7 days a week during daylight hours and entry and parking is free. Access is off SH1, alongside Cobham Drive on the southern side of Hamilton. Mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pushchairs are available to hire and guided tours are available.