The warm, lazy days of summer in New Zealand are the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. You could head to the beach or to a park, but another nice way to spend a day is to pack a picnic lunch and wander through one of the country’s public gardens.
Most cities and towns in New Zealand have public or botanic gardens, each showcasing a wide range of plants and trees – from native New Zealand flora to exotic species from around the world. They’re great places to explore and to relax in and, the best thing is, entry to most public gardens is free.
If you’re visiting the city of Dunedin, you can take a stroll through the oldest botanic garden in New Zealand. The Dunedin Botanic Garden has been operating since 1863 and its attractions include a camellia collection, a rhododendron dell, a water garden and a collection of New Zealand native plants.
The city is also home to the Dunedin Chinese Gardens (there is an entry fee), an authentic Chinese garden developed by artisans and builders from China using traditional techniques.
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is in the centre of Christchurch city and among its attractions are an azalea and magnolia garden, a daffodil woodland, a long herbaceous border and a collection of plants from temperate parts of the Asian continent. It’s located next to Hagley Park, another great place to chill out.
The city also boasts several suburban public gardens and you can find out more about these spaces here.
The Wellington Botanic Garden features a sculpture trail showcasing work by some of New Zealand’s top sculptors. From the botanic garden, you can also explore the Bolton Street Cemetery, where many of Wellington’s pioneers are buried among heritage roses. The Otari-Wilton’s Bush reserve is dedicated to New Zealand native plant species.
The Auckland Botanic Gardens features an original remnant of the native forest that grew in Manukau in pre-human times, as well as the largest public collection of palms in New Zealand.
Other public gardens in Auckland include the Parnell Rose Garden and the Auckland Domain, which is home to the historic Wintergardens complex.
There are also many provincial gardens that are worth visiting and among them are the Hamilton Gardens, the Government Gardens in Rotorua, the Victoria Esplanade in Palmerston North, the Timaru Botanic Gardens and the Gore Public Gardens and Bannerman Park in Southland.
There are many more public gardens in New Zealand and each one provides a wonderful place to unwind. For those interested in expanding their garden experiences, there is also a wide range of private gardens that are open to the public, some attached to historic houses. You can find out more about these gardens on the Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Gardens Trust websites.