8 spectacular free (mostly) gardens to visit in Auckland
Free admission, picnics places for kids to run, jump, run and cartwheel. Places with shaded areas, contemplative spaces where the quiet engerises the soul. For locals your favourite garden has plenty of room to relax in open natural spaces. For visitors Auckland’s gardens are a chance to feel at home, perhaps engage with a local and most of all enjoy the sheer pleasure of Auckland’s beauty on full display. Best time to visit, year round a garden offers magic and seasonal treats from leaf fall to spring growth and renewal.
A former quarry is now a quiet picturesque gully tucked away in the suburb of Mount Eden. While this garden has a minimal admission fee (to support the volunteers and the garden upkeep). While you wander through the gardens the seating, the donated plants, nooks and corners have plaques describing the individuals who have contributed funds or labour to create and maintain this special corner of Auckland. The garden has steep paths (it was a quarry). For glorious city views the adjoining Mount Eden volcanic cone is a great place to capture a classic volcanic hill complete with city views.
Admission fee supporting not for profit organisation. For more information check out Eden Garden.
Open Wed-Sunday 9.00am – 4.00pm
Cafe and toilets. The cafe is not an upmarket fusion menu rather it is classic kiwi morning or afternoon tea spread complete with club sandwiches, egg & bacon pie, cakes and, of course laminations (delicious sponge coated with icing and dusted with coconut).
No children’s playground.
The Wintergardens Conservatory is a great place to visit on a chilly winter day. Let the constant interior temperature wrap you into the earthy scent of a tropical escape. Deep jewelled greens, dusky forest green to vibrant lime compete with the splashes of yellow / orange flowers. The Conservatory is located within the Domain. The Domain is home to a picturesque Edwardian cricket house, has easy short walks around duck ponds and through native bush, rolling swaths of grassed areas to roll yourself down and picnic areas galore. As one of the oldest public parks there is a band rotunda which is often the focus for large public events. The park is situated next to the hospital as well within walking distance of Newmarket shopping buzz. The Domain is home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The museum occupies commanding sites of the city and the public park.
- Open 24/7
Auckland Parnell Rose Garden is a riot of colour spring to mid summer. There are over 5000 rose bushes scenting the air. There are also several wonderful old native trees, including the oldest manuka and largest pōhutukawa tree in Auckland. The garden is a great spot for one of Auckland’s walking gems. The Waitemata Harbour and Judges Bay walk ticks all the boxes with photo moments galore, cafes and restaurants, points of interest for all age groups. Nearby is the Parnell cafe scene ensuring you will not miss out on a restorative coffee.
- Open 24/7
- Picnic tables, toilets, wheelchair accessible.
Japanese Friendship Garden located in Western Springs is literally a hidden gem. The reimagined garden has a tea pavilion, waterfall and pond. It features over 1800 native Japanese and New Zealand species and incorporates items preserved from the original garden including four bonsai trees, paving stones, lanterns, a water basin and the entrance. The garden has supporters, The Fukuoka Garden – who are lobbyists advocating for the continuing maintenance of the garden.
- Open: Summer – 10.00am – 6.30pm, Winter – 10.00am – 5.30pm
- Free admission
- Access from the zoo’s car park entrance off Motions Road
Pah Homestead, Sculpture Park, gallery supporting emerging and up and coming New Zealand artists, is a great place for a leisurely lunch overlooking the park. Monte Cecilia Park is a welcoming family public space for throwing a frisbee or an impromptu game of cricket. The Victorian designed landscape has a number of trees for summer shade with stunning views of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) and Mangere Mountain. Enjoy a stroll walk through a Victorian designed landscape setting. The walk is great for all ages. However some sections of the path are gravel and uphill (depending on your direction).
The Pah Homestead
- Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 3pm
- Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 5pm
- Closed Mondays and public holiday
- Cafe on site
- Toilets, Wheelchair accessible
- Admission donation (koha)
Cornwall Park is worth a detour for visitors wishing to bag the panoramic views of Auckland from Maungakiekie One Tree Hill. Complete with a working farm, heritage cottages, several cafes and a well known ice cream vendor Cornwall Park is a local Auckland city favourite for weekend BBQ and picnics surrounded by lots of space for your own private party. Then there is the opportunity to climb to Auckland’s highest point One Tree Hill. The park is a local favourite for wedding parties making it fun to spot the bride and groom in full regalia. There are plaques explaining the historic significance of pre-European occupation and heritage Pa (village) sites.
- Open Daylight hours
- Public picnic areas complete with BBQ
Albert Park next to Auckland Art Gallery is a city escape for office workers, students from the adjacent University of Auckland and visitors wishing to indulge in an impromptu picnic in a natural landscape. From the city centre Albert Park is a steep hillside walk through mature pohutukawa trees, flourishing sub-tropical gardens and wending paths with glimpses of the city through the foliage. For visitors to the Auckland Art Gallery the gardens can be viewed through the massive exterior windows inviting you to step outside. Albert Park’s original park-keepers cottage which is now a museum of memorabilia. Open weekdays from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
Another photo moment for visitors The Victorian water foundation is the central point of the park with visitors having a great spot for a photo moment with the skytower in the background
- Open 24/7
- Cafes nearby
For visitors wanting a photo moment of the Waitemata harbour, Rangitoto Island and surrounding Auckland this is the best place to go. There are over 49 hectares of land above Takami Drive. Michael Joseph Savage, the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand introduced the welfare state after the ravages of the Great Depression in the mid 1930’s. Similar to the Wellington Massey Memorial the site is a former gun emplacement built during the Russian scare in the 1880’s. The memorial reserve has a sunken garden which acts as an immediate counterpoint to the sweeping harbour views. The Memorial is adjacent to the Ngai Whatua papakainga. Expect to see kites flying as it is a local favourite giving you a hint that there is usually a cool breeze even on warm summer days. There is a marked trail to Mission Bay from the summit.
- Open Daylight hours, check for up to date details
- Nearby Mission Bay with its numerous cafes and restaurants supporting the busy summer beach
The journey is worth it.