Maungawhare Parkland, Park Vale Rd, Tauranga. This reserve, a joint venture between the owners of the historic home and the council, features a few remnant trees of the Otumoetai bush and 4 large Norfolk pines planted between 1884 and 1890; the northernmost was the tallest in the Bay of Plenty until it was struck by lightning in 1978. Note that there is no boundary between the parkland and homestead garden, which is private property. The park is open daily, except Wednesdays and public holidays. No dogs.
Robbins Rose Garden, Cliff Rd, central Tauranga. The rose gardens are rated by legandary rose breeder Sam McGredy as one of the best two or three public rose gardens in New Zealand and better than many he has seen in North America. A tropical display house is right next door. Both free entry.
Tauranga Domain, Cameron Rd, central Tauranga. Includes heritage trees. Free entry.
The Elms Mission Station, Mission St, central Tauranga. One of the country’s most historic colonial-era buildings with gardens that date from various periods of its habitation. Gardens free.
Yatton Park, Fraser St, Greerton. A collection of exotic heritage trees. Free entry.
Amazing Iris Garden open Thursday-Sunday from Labour Weekend to early December, 9.30am-4pm, 122 Walford Rd (off Work Rd), Aongatete. A specialist nursery for tall, median and dwarf bearded irises with extensive stock beds. Also Louisiana.
El Jakedo Cactus Garden, 550 Rocky Cutting Rd, Welcome Bay, parking for a bus or for the mobility impaired. A display garden of cacti and succulents and a nursery (all on flat ground). Open by arrangement only; entry charge. Phone 07-544 1178 or email.
Katikati Bird Gardens, end of Walker Rd East, signposted off SH2. Entry charge.
Looking Glass Garden, Quarry Rd, Te Puke, signposted off SH2. Gael Blaymires began developing her 8ha garden that ranges up hill and down dale in 1987. The results are spectacular and the garden is punctuated with sculptures, most by Papamoa artist Peter Cramond, and whimsical installations. Entry charge. 2015: The property is on the market so not sure how much longer this will be open.
McLaren Falls Park, McLaren Falls Rd, signposted off SH29. An arboretum, the park is some 190ha and includes a cafe, camping area, lake and walking tracks. Free entry.
Siesta Orchard, 6 Quarry Rd, Te Puna (off SH2). The garden of rose-lover Colleen Thwaites. Groups welcome, but please book, phone 552 5888 or email Colleen. Visitors welcome to bring a picnic. Entry charge.
Te Puna Quarry Park, Quarry Rd, signposted off SH2. Developed and maintained by volunteers, the 32ha park is divided into garden areas and includes sculptures and walking tracks. It is believed to have the largest outdoor plantings of orchids in New Zealand and also features a butterfly garden. Free entry, donations appreciated.
Waihi Waterlily Gardens, 144 Pukekauri Rd, off SH2. Several stream-fed ponds and a lake (plus barrels) are home to thousands of waterlilies and lotus plants. The gardens are open daily from Labour Weekend to March, 11am-3pm. Entry charge, picnickers welcome (toilets on site). Read an article here.
Hukutaia Domain: 10km inland from Opotiki is a botanical collection of New Zealand native plants. The 5ha remnant forest centres, physically and spiritually, on a 2000-year-old puriri tree used as a burial site. Plants (named) from all over the country.
Centennial Park: 20ha started by the Rotorua Tree Trust thanks to the late Hal Thomas. The park has a roadway, walking tracks, barbecue site, toilets and extensive tree plantings. The main entry is at Mokoia Drive near the Polytech. Free entry, open 7 days.
Rhodohill Gardens: Mail-order nursery specialising in rhododendrons and azaleas. Display gardens open October and November at 569 Paradise Valley, RD2, Rotorua, phone 07 348 9010.
Tikitere Gardens: Renowned for Japanese maples, irises and rhododendrons. The 12ha gardens and retail nursery are run by the knowledgeable Bill and Anne Robinson at 104 State Highway 30, RD4, Rotorua 3074, phone 07 345 5036 or email. Admission charge to gardens.
Pure Ora Garden: The garden that in 2004 won New Zealand its first gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show has been rebuilt in a courtyard at Taupo Museum, 10am-4.30pm daily (except Christmas Day and Good Friday). The Museum is in the Domain near the Great Lakes Centre. See a map here.
Waipahihi Botanical Reserve: A 35ha reserve established in 1966 that is home to more than 2000 rhododendrons, an alpine garden and a lemonwood walk. Developed and maintained by volunteers. Lake and mountain views. Access from Shepherd Rd.
Alphra Lavenders: Te Awamutu, a working lavender farm that is open year-round.
Cambridge area: This list has been put together by the Cambridge i-Site.
Clandon Daffodils: Gordonton, open in season, tours may be booked.
Daltons Plantation: Hinuera Rd West (SH27), Matamata. Xanthe White has re-created her silver medal Chelsea Flower Show garden (2006) and created a series of garden rooms on an extensive site. Upmarket cafe. $5 entry to gardens.
Hamilton Gardens: SH1 on the southern entry to the city. The award-winning extensive gardens include the Paradise collection, the Productive collection and the Rogers Rose Garden with a new Fantasy collection being developed. Free entry.
Sutton’s Gardens: At Matangi, between Hamilton and Cambridge, and welcome garden visitors, although it may be only groups of 8+.
Taitua Arboretum: Taitua Rd, off Howden Rd (off SH23). Walking tracks and 20ha of mature trees. Free entry.
Te Awamutu Rose Gardens: Te Awamutu, free.
Tree Church Gardens: Near Ohaupo. Barry Cox has created a living church from trees, situated in large gardens.
Waitakaruru Arboretum & Sculpture Park: Midway between Hamilton, Cambridge and Morrinsville, signposted from SH26, SH1B, and from Matangi. Open by appointment. Entry charge.
Whychwood Iris & Lavender Garden: Ngaruawahia.
Zealong: A 35ha organic tea plantation at Gordonton offers tours and includes a Tea House that offers meals and high tea. Groups welcome. All tour places must be booked in advance. More information here. Read an article about the tea estate here.
In other places:
The NZ Gardens Trust website offers a list of “rated” gardens to visit by region throughout the country.
Auckland Botanic Gardens, open 7 days, free.
Ayrlies Garden started by Bev McConnell in 1964. Open by appointment only, Monday-Friday.
Eden Garden, open 7 days, entry charge. An old quarry on the side of Mt Eden has been transformed into a 5.5 acre garden by volunteers.
Highwic Garden, 1.2ha of grounds surrounds a ramblinbg historic home in central Auckland. Entry charge.
NZ Bamboo Specialists, a nursery with mature plantations of bamboo. Open to the public by appointment only.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens, free.
Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, at Caroline Bay near Timaru features the collection of world-renowned rosarian Trevor Griffiths. Designed by Sir Miles Warren, the garden contains more than 1100 varieties of roses – mostly heritage, species and David Austin varieties. Free.
Trott’s Garden, on the outskirts of Ashburton, is 2.8ha of first-class gardens designed by the owner, Alan Trott. Read an article about the garden here. Entry charge.
Eastwoodhill, the National Arboretum.
HackFalls Arboretum, Tinoroto. Open all year.
Rodger Bodle, Bermuda Palms Banana Research: Closed in 2015. Rodger and his wife have sold the property and moved into town.
Georgina Campbell is creating a collection of McGredy roses at her heritage rose garden near Hastings. Believe it or not, this is a world first.
Guthrie-Smith Arboretum, Tutira. 90ha of more than 20,000 trees.
Napier Botanical Gardens opened in 1874, free.
Trelinnoe Park, 46km inland from Napier, is open year-round. Entry charge. Established by John Wills, now run by his son Bruce.
Lavendyl Lavender Farm, open daily, includes accommodation, café and shop.
Victoria Esplanade Gardens are in Palmerston North and include the Dugald McKenzie Rose Gardens, the National Rose Trial grounds and a lovely and well-maintained winter garden. Free.
See a list of large Manawatu gardens here.
Palmco in Kerikeri has a large display garden to go with the nursery. Open 7 days, free.
Wharepuke in Kerikeri also offers a great cafe and accommodation in the 2ha of subtropical gardens developed by Robin Booth. Open 7 days, free.
Dunedin Botanic Gardens, 150 years old in 2013, free.
Dunedin Chinese Garden. A gift from Dunedin’s sister city of Shanghai, the garden has been built with great thought, detail and determination. Entry charge.
Larnach Castle has a world-class garden of rare and unusual plants. Read an article about the garden here. On Otago Peninsula, near Dunedin. Entry charge
Riverstone Kitchen Gardens, on the northern outskirts of Oamaru, is a triple delight as visitors can eat in the restaurant run by Bevan Smith, wander the kitchen gardens, or browse the store run by Bevan’s mum, Dot. Read an article about the garden here. The gardens are free.
Trinity Farm, 3 acres of heritage rose garden surrounding a 19th century homestead.
Cross Hills, a well-established rhododendron and azalea garden near Kimbolton, includes a nursery and has an annual Country Fair in November.
See a list of gardens and a map here.
See a list of gardens here.
Bason Botanic Garden is on the northern outskirts of the city, free.
Paloma Gardens are at Fordell, some 20km from Wanganui. Includes cottage accommodation. The gardens include many rare and unusual plants on various themes – death, Mediterranean, desert, bamboo, etc. Open 7 days (honesty box operates for casual visitors), book tours in advance. Read an article about the garden here.
All words and photos copyright Sandra Simpson