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Neil and Greg Montgomerie-Crowe describe their 40 acre property, which lies on the outskirts of the village of Greytown, as a “rustic country garden”. Majestic native trees including Totara, Titoki and Kahikatea, once part of the original 300 acre farm that extended to the Tararua Ranges - stand tall. As we weave our way around the garden, they provide shade from the hot summer sun and protection from the prevailing nor-west winds.
Third generation landowner Neil, who was born and raised on the property, tells me he took over the reins of Kahikatea Gardens 16 years ago after working overseas and in Wellington with the Foreign Office and New Zealand Parliament. After being attracted back to the region for lifestyle reasons, he and Greg, the latter who established one of the region’s first commercial olive groves, have worked hard to create a beautiful home and garden for themselves, their three Labradors Beijing, Guangzhou and Jaipur, cat Paris and menagerie of farm animals.
Kahikatea Gardens is now full of Rhododendrons, camellias and other flowering trees and shrubs providing a continuous range of colour throughout the year and to attract native birds such as Kereru, Tui and fantails. They also provide a beautiful backdrop for couples wanting to use the country garden as a day-time wedding venue or place to take photos.
Interspersed amongst the garden’s little alcoves are reminders of another era such as the old cheese press which makes for an eye catching sculpture. There is also a rustic horse drawn farm implement draped with climbing roses while Totara posts and rail fences feature throughout. Interestingly, the old Police stables, relocated from Greytown’s Main St in the early 1900s, are filled with old farm machinery and agricultural memorabilia.
“For many it’s a journey back in time and reminder of how things were done a century ago,” the couple say.
Kahikatea Gardens has a range of fruit and nut trees including groves of Walnut, Pinenut and Hazelnut trees, and a large vegetable garden. Excess produce is used to make the “Rexworthy Cottage” range of delicious chutneys and jams in the onsite commercial kitchen. A press, imported from Germany, allows the couple to make walnut oil.
Another popular feature of the gardens is the array of friendly petting animals. The two donkeys - Jordan and Petra - are popular with visitors to the garden while alpacas, miniature horses, sheep and a goat called Helen also love to be pampered. At various times during the year an outer paddock is also used to fatten Angus beef.
Greg says the beauty about visiting Kahikatea Gardens is it has something for everyone. I agree with him completely.
Kahikatea Gardens is open to visitors by appointment from early spring until early autumn. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic.
Admission is $15 per person.
A deluxe version is also available which includes feeding the animals and enjoying morning or afternoon tea with Neil and Greg in their home as well as the garden tour. This is $25 per person.