Garden of New Zealand

The region as a whole is known for its lush landscape, which is dominated by the picture-perfect peak of Mount Taranaki, whose slopes form Egmont National Park. The Park offers a perfect introduction to the region’s flora and fauna, with many walks through and above the rich native bush.

A region of gardeners

In Taranaki it’s hard not to be connected to the land, and beneath the mountain a vibrant green-fingered culture has emerged, resulting in many gorgeous public and private gardens throughout the province.

Rated one of only a handful of 6-star gardens by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, Te Kainga Marire is a life-long passion for Valda Poletti and Dave Clarkson. The pair have painstakingly transformed a quarter-acre patch of clay in suburban New Plymouth into an intimate native garden which has garnered international attention.

At the other end of the spectrum is the world-renown Pukeiti Garden, a 360-hectare rain forest garden nestled in the foothills of Mount Taranaki. Pukeiti features more than 10,000 rhododendrons, covering more than 500 of the 800 known varieties, offers a number of marked walks through this wonderland, and a café with a stunning outlook over the summer months.

Plenty more to see

New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park is not to be missed, and offers an extensive network of walks through diverse landscapes, plant collections, formal gardens and native bush over its 52ha site just minutes form central New Plymouth. The park comes alive after dark over December and January each year when the TSB Festival of Lights transforms it into an illuminated wonderland.

Sculpted from a hillside overlooking the Waiwhakaiho River, Tupare is a beautifully landscaped former private home with extensive plantings around the original Chapman-Taylor homestead. South Taranaki’s Hollard Gardens had a similar beginning, creating a horticultural oasis in the heart of dairy country. In addition to two walking trails, the gardens now features an extensive children’s playground and a comprehensive programme of education events.

There are many private gardens around the mountain that are worth a visit – Puketarata near Hawera and the coastal Oakley Garden are both rated 5-star gardens by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.

Garden festivals

Taranaki’s gardens are so spectacular, there are two annual festivals that are acclaimed throughout New Zealand. The Powerco Garden Festival  and the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival attract thousands of garden lovers to the region every spring. The long-running festivals together showcase more than 100 of the region’s top gardens and present vibrant events and education programmes.