Solitude and sanctuary in the glorious gardens of Aotearoa NZ

New Zealand gardens connect with nature’s healing powers in spaces as solitary and spiritual as ancient churches.

These New Zealand gardens will help you connect with nature’s healing powers in spaces as solitary and spiritual as ancient churches.
The islands of New Zealand form a long thin exclamation mark in the vast gyre of the southern ocean relentlessly churning around the Antarctic continent. In the north, there are exuberantly colourful gardens of subtropical plants including New Zealand’s brilliant crimson-flowered Christmas tree – the pohutukawa. Further south is the very different palette of a true temperate climate. Plants wear their sensible seasonal livery under snow in winter, in the warm spring winds, through baking summers and during gilded autumn days.
NOTE: Garden star* ratings by NZ Gardens Trust

Five North Island Gardens
Butler Point Garden, Far North – Where history came ashore (5*)
This Far North garden is among the first planted by 19th century European settlers who arrived in New Zealand seeking resources to export or souls to win. Captain William Butler was a whaler who came ashore, married and planted trees. Today, Butler Point Garden encompasses an ancient Māori hilltop pa site, a whaling museum and magnificent 170-year-old trees planted by WIlliam and his wife Eliza, including a magnolia grandiflora, a fig and olives. This is a place in which to meaningfully connect with early colonial history and admire the care bestowed upon the property over the past five decades by the current owners.

Ph: 0800 687 386

Open by appointment; Hihi is a 4-hour drive north of Auckland, located just south of the Karikari Peninsula.

Omaio, Matakana – Nurturing nature (6*)
Statuesque giants, remnants of the temperate rainforest which once clothed the North Island, still rule tranquilly along some stretches of the seaboard north of Auckland. Under the calming influence of the ancient puriri, totara, rimu and kauri trees, this gardener has the upper hand on nature – only just. Clipped balls of native plants such as hebe, Carpodetus serratus and pittosporum stand formally alongside introduced plants which run in vast swathes beneath the towering trees. These plants may look as though they’ve made up their own minds to be here but oh no, they’ve been carefully planted 4 – 500 at a time.
Travel Tips
Omaio: 194 Whitmore Road, Matakana
Ph: +64 9 4227443
Open by appointment; Matakana is a 1.5-hour drive north of Auckland, via State Highway 1.

Ayrlies Garden, Auckland – An artist in the garden (6*)
In Ayrlies Garden – just southeast of Auckland – streams rush between fern fronds to cascade over rocky falls, white-trunked lemon-scented gum trees tower above rockery gardens of fiery-faced flowers, and lily ponds are still and deep alongside the knobbly knees of swamp cypress. Roses and delicately hued annuals, a meadow of wildflowers and a grove of citrus each have their moment of glory while white swans and waterfowl drift about their daily business on wetlands fringing the ocean. This expansive garden feeds the soul of the artist whose five decades of daily devotion have seen it emerge from bare paddock into a garden celebrated internationally. Its many paths and seats, vistas and secret spots uplift the soggiest of spirits and are revered, by many, as a healing place.
Travel Tips
Ayrlies: 125 Potts Rd, Whitford
Ph: +64 9 530 8706
Open by appointment; Ayrlies is located in Whitford, a 45-minute drive south east from Auckland.

Te Kainga Marire – A haven of great tranquility (6*)
This small but perfectly-formed garden reflects a natural New Zealand environment skillfully developed in a 2000sqm inner city backyard. It was inspired by the natural landscapes where the owner – a passionate alpine climber and hiker – has spent much time. She’s incorporated a fern-fringed waterfall and included several pre-colonisation features such as a tiny traditional Māori whare (house) and palisade fences of split-totara battens. There is a wetland area and an alpine area, both created, in this coastal environment, with a lot of artistic flair. In addition to the microcosm of native bush are food gardens and an orchard. And, the sum of its parts is a haven of great tranquility.
Travel Tips
Te Kainga Marire: 15 Spencer Pl, Merrilands, New Plymouth
Ph: +64 6 758 8693
Open daily; 15-minute drive from inner city New Plymouth.

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