It’s a funny little fact but gardening is rated as one of New Zealanders’ favourite pastimes. Being a long north-south country means that everything from the sub-tropical to the sub-alpine grows here. If you’re a keen gardener you will enjoy your visit here.
Many cities and towns have garden tours where you can visit botanic gardens and private gardens alike with the gardeners sharing their love of what they grow and how they grow it. The rural garden tours of Tairawhiti, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Christchurch - Canterbury are often hosted by residents of stately historic homesteads. Visit Kerikeri’s Palmco Gardens and wander through lush sub-tropical splendour. At Matakana’s Villa Tamahunga you’ll see a unique garden that includes olive grove, beautiful bush walks, subtropical pond gardens, rose walk and a sequence of three formally designed terrace gardens below the relocated villa.
Further south, the Hamilton Gardens explores the relationship between people and plants in five themed garden collections. Here, you'll find gardens inspired by places as diverse as India, Italy and China as well as a herb garden and an area devoted entirely to rhododendrons.
In Blenheim, Hortensia House has a romantic flower garden with masses of colour co-ordinated flowers, while the English character of Southland's Tudor Park is a highlight for any passionate gardener.
You cannot talk gardens without talking about Christchurch, the Garden City. A must-see is the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Gardens of International Significance
There are 17 world-standard Gardens of International Significance throughout New Zealand. New Zealand Gardens Trust assesses gardens for this endorsement.
Auckland is home to Ayrlies, one of New Zealand’s best-known gardens. Created from 12 acres (4.5 hectares) of bare paddock, Ayrlies is nearing maturity and recognised for both design and horticultural excellence. The wetlands are home to native and visiting bird life.
In New Plymouth, Taranaki Te Kainga Maririe has featured on Around the World in 80 Gardens. Te Kainga Marire is Maori for ‘the peaceful encampment’. The predominantly native garden weaves subtle textures and colours from quirky forms into an harmonious whole, including lush ferns, wetland plants, and alpine treasures.
Near Christchurch, Sir Miles Warren’s private garden Ohinetahi overlooks Lyttleton Harbour with a backdrop of volcanic hills. Ohinetahi Homestead is considered to be a significant building in the settlement of Governors Bay. Sir Miles began the present garden in 1977 and it reflects the architectural talent of its owner, accented by modern sculptures.
Near Ashburton, Trotts Garden combines formal and informal elements with a collection of unusual and striking trees. Three key areas of a woodland, bog garden and pond plus a formal garden and a knot garden provide year-round colour and interest.
Dunedin has two Gardens of International Significance. Larnach Castle Garden is more than a century old, and some remnants from the original plantings survive. The gardens reflect the owner's interest in New Zealand plants and in their southern hemisphere relatives, with a unique collection of plants seldom seen elsewhere. Set at an altitude of 300 metres in the castle grounds on the Otago Peninsula, it boasts a true sense of place.
The only publicly owned internationally significant garden in New Zealand, Dunedin Botanic Garden opened in 1863 and is the oldest in the country. From forested slopes to floral borders, the garden presents a variety of settings hosting thousands of plants from New Zealand and overseas. There is a café and a beautiful Edwardian Winter Garden Glasshouse providing a tropical retreat.
You can find more gardens information from New Zealand Gardens Trust(opens in new window).