As the dairy and agriculture industries prove New Zealand is a great place to grow things. Blessed with plenty of sunshine and rain, little frost and rich soils, plants that would only be found in gardens in the UK grow as weeds here. So it’s a little disappointing that most New Zealand gardens try to replicate gardens of Europe, particularly rose gardens, rather than offering a distinctive kiwi perspective. However there are plenty of gardens well worth a wander…
Easily the best thing to do in Hamilton (though there’s not a huge amount of competition) these gardens offer a taste of the world, with 21 well laid out and maintained themed gardens, including Italian, American, Japanese, Indian and Maori.
Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Probably my favourite gardens in New Zealand. Wide range of plants and beautiful setting up the hillside in Dunedin.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Notable mainly for the epic trees, which though lacking the scale of Rotorua, tie in nicely with Hagley Park.
Wellington Botanic Gardens
Possibly slightly hillier than Dunedin Botanic Gardens and a close competitor for the best botanic garden in New Zealand. Stunning views from the top over the capital, and love the treehouse.
Auckland Botanic Gardens
Much newer than most of the Botanic Gardens around the country, but still a lovely spot for a wander around, particularly during the bi-annual sculpture tour.
Tupare Garden, Taranaki
Nice garden based around an historic house which you get a birds eye view of coming down the hillside through the gardens.
Ayrlies Garden, Auckland
One of Monty Don’s top 80 gardens in the world, though more notable for how within a few decades they’ve turned typical East Auckland farm land into a lush collection of gardens.
Oamaru Botanic Gardens
Best of the small town botanic gardens scattered around the country, dating back to 1876.
Two popular uses for old quarries in New Zealand. Turning them into houses (Stonefields, Mt Wellington, Mt Roskill) or gardens (Te Puna Quarry Park near Tauranga, Whangarei Quarry Gardens, and Mt Eden Gardens in Auckland). Underwhelmed by Mt Eden Gardens but rather enjoyed the other two.
Unsurprisingly given the number of Chinese immigrants to New Zealand there are a few Chinese gardens around the country. Notable examples include the Chinese Gardens in Dunedin, and parts of Queen’s Gardens in Nelson and Hamilton Gardens. However none are match those in Sydney or Portland, Oregon.