Country Gardens of New Zealand – in the North and Sound Islands with Sandy Pratten
Dear Garden Lovers
I have just returned from New Zealand where everything is on a grand scale in horticulture, all set in a breathtaking landscape.
This tour travels from Auckland to Christchurch to explore a selection of hand-picked gardens in a range of settings, visit galleries and learn about their viticulture. After Gibbs Farm, an exciting private sculpture park, the next highlight will be the newly discovered PowerCo Taranaki Garden Spectacular in and around New Plymouth. Dominated by Mt Taranaki and surrounded by lush farmland, New Plymouth is a port city with a bubbling arts scene and some fabulous cafes.
Throughout the tour we will meet the garden owners, some generously welcoming us into their houses for lunch. In Wellington wander through the excellent national Te Papa Museum. Next, cross to the South Island by ferry to the Marlborough region, known for its vineyards and stunning gardens. Also experience the distinct biodiversity of flora and fauna offered by the west coast on the way to Christchurch. New Zealand is still a hidden gem, so close, yet so wonderfully different. It’s inspirational.
AT A GLANCE…
• Visit a wonderful selection of private gardens – including many ‘Gardens of National Significance’
• Spend two full days at the PowerCo Taranaki Garden Festival
• Experience the Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park (Auckland) and Te Papa Museum (Wellington)
• Visit the botanical gardens of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
• Enjoy the best of fine New Zealand hospitality, cuisine and wines
WED 25 OCT 2017 / ARRIVE AUCKLAND
Suggested morning departure from Australia on Air New Zealand, Qantas or Emirates flights to Auckland. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist with these travel arrangements.
This evening join Sandy and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner in the hotel.
THU 26 OCT / AUCKLAND
Enjoy a day tour to the north of Auckland, beginning with a morning visit to Gibbs Farm on Kaipara Harbour. Alan Gibbs is one of New Zealand’s leading art collectors, and since 1991 has established a sprawling 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) sculpture park which contains the largest collection of large-scale outdoor sculptures in New Zealand.
After a picnic lunch return to Auckland, stopping at Mincher Gardens. A Georgian styled home is the centrepiece of this large rural garden set amongst the remnants of an old orchard. Behind the house is the formal area. To one side a cottage garden and whimsical garden shed lead to “kissing gates” which are romantically placed under trailing weeping willow.
Late afternoon return to your hotel.
FRI 27 OCT / AUCKLAND
Spend the day in Auckland’s three major public and private gardens. In the morning visit Ayrlies, situated in the gently rolling country of east Auckland. This is one of New Zealand’s best known gardens, characterised by sweeping lawns and informal but detailed plantings by ponds and waterways.
Continue to the Auckland Botanic Gardens for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to explore this young botanic garden that has been created from gently contoured farmland. The mild temperate climate allows the gardens to display a wide variety of plants.
Finish with a visit to the Winter Garden at the Auckland Domain. Rare and spectacular plants in an ever-changing display can be seen in each of the two barrel-vaulted Victorian style glass houses.
SAT 28 OCT / AUCKLAND – HAMILTON – NEW PLYMOUTH
Depart Auckland for a leisurely day’s drive to New Plymouth. En route, stop in Hamilton to visit the Hamilton Garden. Often (incorrectly) referred to as a ‘botanic garden’ Hamilton Garden is rather a collection of themed gardens, exploring different civilisations and recreating historically important garden styles from around the world.
In the afternoon continue to New Plymouth, your base for the next two days.
SUN 29 – MON 30 OCT / NEW PLYMOUTH
New Plymouth is home to the annual ten-day PowerCo Taranaki Garden Spectacular (formerly the Taranaki Rhododendron & Garden Festival) which showcases some of New Zealand’s most stunning private and public gardens.
The festival features over 40 diverse and inspiring gardens, including many gardens of significance, new gardens and more than a dozen exciting events. Nearly all of the gardens are private gardens and are opened exclusively for the duration of the festival. The 2017 festival will take place 27 October – 05 November 2017.
The festival includes a mixture of free and paid events, including house and garden tours, celebrity chef demonstrations, guided walks, workshops and a diverse garden speaker series.
From the huge range of gardens and events on offer, Sandy and the festival organiser will choose a stimulating program over the three days spent here.
In addition to its beautiful parks and gardens, the city of New Plymouth is known for its sunny climate and art galleries. The conical shape of Mount Taranaki provides a dramatic backdrop to the city. Down at the waterfront are located Puke Ariki museum and heritage centre, and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre – New Zealand’s first and only museum of contemporary art.
TUE 31 OCT / NEW PLYMOUTH – WELLINGTON
Depart New Plymouth for a, leisurely drive to Wellington. En route, stop for lunch and a visit to Nicki and Clive Higgie’s garden, Paloma, near Wanganui.
Awarded Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust (NZGT) for the past seven years, the exotic gardens of Paloma are landscaped with plants from all over the world, and are presented as several distinct zones, including the Palm Garden, the Desert House, the Garden of Death, the Bamboo Forests, the Jardin Exotique, the Wedding Lawn and the two Arboreta.
In the afternoon continue to Wellington, arriving late afternoon.
WED 01 NOV / WELLINGTON
Begin with an orientation tour of the vibrant city of Wellington, nestled around the harbour and surrounded by natural scenery. See the famous Beehive and Parliament Buildings, visit Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens within the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
Drive out of Wellington into the picturesque Ohariu Valley to Pepped Warbeck garden, a NZ Garden of Significance. The garden consists of a majestic entrance and long curving drive, planted with Marlborough daisies and many different native trees and shrubs. Extensive lawns sweep down to the re-modelled bog garden which features five adjoining ponds planted with primulas, bog irises, hostas and gunnera.
Following lunch, return to Wellington for a visit to Te Papa Tongawera Museum, a fascinating centre dedicated to art, history and Maori culture.
THU 02 NOV / WELLINGTON – BLENHEIM
Today enjoy the scenic crossing on the Interislander ferry between Wellington and Picton. After sailing out of the picturesque harbour of Wellington, cross Cook Strait before entering the magnificent Marlborough Sounds. The three hour journey between Wellington and Picton is considered one of the most spectacular cruises in the world.
Arrive in Picton and continue to Allan Scott Wines, the family owned winery established by Allan and Catherine Scott. Enjoy a wine tasting followed by lunch which is served in the European-style courtyard with its exceptional gardens and vistas to the vineyards beyond.
Late afternoon arrival at your hotel in Blenheim, your base for the next three nights.
FRI 03 NOV / BLENHEIM
Begin your exploration of the Marlborough area and its gardens with Bankhouse Garden, one of the highlights of the Wairau Valley. Meander through the lower level into a shaded gully that hosts rhododendrons and bog plants. Continue towards the house and onto the upper level garden terraces where you find rambling roses and a variety of drought resistant plants.
Continue to Barewood garden for lunch and a tour. Recognised as a NZ Garden of National Significance, Barewood garden is designed to complement the 100 year old homestead, and features formal allees of hawthorn and malus, plantings of unusual trees and shrubs and a classic potager featuring espaliered fruit.
Continue to Paripuma Garden, with its unique collection of indigenous and rare plant species that have created a haven for wildlife on what was once a bare sandy paddock.
SAT 04 NOV / BLENHEIM
Begin with a visit to Huguette Michel’s Hortensia House. The Monet-inspired garden is informal in design and is loosely themed on blue and yellow, capturing an essence of serenity and reflecting the colours of the house. Huguette’s favourite shade of hydrangea is blue and these, along with lavenders, forget-me-not’s, love-in-a-mists and others provide the blue tones throughout the garden. Yellow is provided by varieties of roses, pansies, daisies, aquilegias and gazanias.
Following a wine-tasting and lunch at a local winery, visit Upton Oaks, the English-inspired garden of Dave and Sue Monahan developed around a restored 1911 Victorian villa. Brick walls, ponds, perennial borders, and a 17th century style ‘knot garden’ are divided into sections by colour and a rustic kitchen garden. Upton Oaks is also recognised as a NZ Garden of National Significance.
SUN 05 NOV / BLENHEIM – GREYMOUTH
Departing Blenheim travel via the old gold mining town of Murchison to the port town of Westport. After a break for lunch, continue down the scenic West Coast, stopping to see the fur seal colony at Cape Foulwind and the Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes.
Late afternoon arrival and overnight in Greymouth, known for its gold mining heritage, local brewery Monteiths and pounamu (New Zealand jade).
MON 06 NOV / GREYMOUTH – CHRISTTCHURCH
Depart Greymouth for a very scenic morning’s drive over the Southern Alps to Christchurch. Climb to more than 900 metres through Arthur’s Pass National Park, before descending to Christchurch across the Canterbury Plain.
After lunch at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, enjoy an afternoon to explore the gardens. Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English oak tree, over the years natural wetlands and sand dunes have been transformed into an elegantly cultivated 21 hectare park with more than 10 different gardens framed by mature trees and expansive lawns, which are mostly contained within a loop of the Avon River.
Late afternoon arrival at your hotel.
TUE 07 NOV / CHRISTCHURCH
Today visit two outstanding gardens. First visit Broadfield NZ Landscape Gardens, a 3.5 hectare showcase garden established 20 years. Many natives are used formally and informally as are NZ raised varieties of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, cherry cornus, maples, peony perennials, daffodils, lily, and roses. It includes a Kauri forest with over 100 trees and 100 species of other Kauri forest trees, shrubs, climbers and ferns.
Continue to the seaside town of Governor’s Bay for a farewell lunch.
This afternoon visit Ohinetahi, a well-structured, carefully designed garden created by architect Sir Miles Warren which consists of a number of formal rooms, of differing style and character. The garden houses an important sculpture collection and small art gallery. Hedges are used to shelter plants that would otherwise struggle in the high winds. Features include an herb potager, box-edged rose garden, herbaceous borders, Red Garden, gazebo, rectangular pond, arched bridge and statues. There are spectacular views down to Lyttleton Harbour.
Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
WED 08 NOV / DEPART CHRISTCHURCH
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Most return flights to Australia depart in the afternoon or evening, allowing a further day of exploration at your leisure. If you would like to extend your stay in Christchurch or New Zealand, please talk to one of our dedicated travel team for options and prices.