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Gardens & Parks

Waikato top 10 unmissable gardens to visit

  • 5 minutes


What to see and places to go

Hamilton Gardens offer a glimpse into the world of universal garden design principles from an Indian scented garden to clipped, trimmed French elegance. Hamilton Gardens are a showstopper while the Waikato, central North Island, New Zealand  indulges the senses with a delightful 19th century Victorian garden, Moondance Garden and an extraordinary plantation that would not look out of place in China or India, the Zealong Tea Plantation. Here’s a handy guide to glorious central North Island gardens with a map getting you sorted where to go and what to do nearby.

  1. Tree Church Garden

Living church gardens in Ohaupo. Imaginative very large scale topiary creating a living green roof and walls shaped in the form of a chapel. There are water features, herbaceous borders and swaths of lawn for picnics. Tree Church is a popular venue for weddings and celebrations.

Open November to April (conditions apply) check beforehand to avoid disappointment.

  1. Moondance Gardens

Moondance Manor Gardens are extensively planted with abundant flower beds, expansive lawn areas, a wealth of native and exotic trees, a large ornamental pond and island, substantial formal hedging – all set on over a hectare bordering the Waikato River. The gardens are beautiful in spring and autumn with awakening spring blooms and autumn foliage colour. The Edwardian homestead is set within terraced lawns, formal flower beds and trees

Open between October to March.


@Moondance Manor Gardens
@Moondance Manor Gardens

Auckland & beyond – do you know about Waikato garden attractions?

Auckland is a mere 1 ½ hours to the Waikato with Hamilton Gardens, Waikato River Trails, Rotopiko Wetlands, Te Awamutu Rose Gardens and Putaruru Blue Springs highlights for a road trip exploring beyond Auckland.

Early autumn roses Te Awamutu Rose Garden, Gorst Avenue, Waikato, NZ
Early autumn roses Te Awamutu Rose Garden, Gorst Avenue, Waikato, NZ

Waikato gardens & natural places – top sights

  1. Lavender Backyard Garden

Enjoy a delicious combination of farm to gift pack products (lavender), blueberries and a rural setting. Natural aromatherapy and skin care products are distilled on the premises from naturally grown lavender. The lavender and blueberry is a family owned business located on the outskirts of Hamilton. In summer kids are encouraged to pick their own lavender and blueberries. At the end of December, it normally is the peak season of blueberry picking. For peak season bookings are required. Check entry conditions beforehand to avoid disappointment.

  1. Ngatea Water Gardens

The gardens have a whimsical wheelchair friendly path through the gardens that will take you over bridges, past water lily ponds, waterfalls, waterwheels and magical fountains. You will be kept entertained by hand fed birds and fish, plus fascinating turtles, said to be the oldest in New Zealand. Also set within the gardens is a Can Museum, displaying over 11,000 different beer, soft drink and unusual cans from around the world.

  1. Zealong Tea Estate

Delve into the intricacies of tea culture with a unique twist. An authentic tea experience in the Waikato producing 100% organic award winning tea is on the must-go bucket list. The immaculately kept grounds, the rows of trimmed tea plants are restful. Take in the views of the Waikato, hand-crafted copper statues and sculptures as you walk through the estate.

Zealong Tea Estate offers high teas, wedding venue settings and private group functions as well as an extensive gift shop and tours. Check opening hours beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Zealong Tea Estate is In the vicinity of 31 Things to Do in Cambridge: Popular Tourist Activities and Attractions – Best Bits.

  1. The Sculpture Park and Waitakaruru Arboretum

Discover The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum is a former quarry now the home of over 100+ outdoor sculptures and installations in this 17.5 hectare arboretum park. The sometimes quirky installations tell stories about sustainability and nature in thought provoking positions. The 2 km walk is surrounded by trees and shrubs. Groups can book a riddle-solving puzzle game (similar to escape rooms) with locked boxes holding clues for the participants.


@The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum
@The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum
  1. Woodlands Estate – Homestead, Gardens, Venue, Cafe

Woodlands is registered with NZ Historic Places Trust and the New Zealand Gardens Trust. The historic and aesthetic value of the homestead and gardens has been maintained through donations of finance and time. Visit the gardens and enjoy a wander along one of them many paths on designated open days. The fully restored 1870’s manager’s Homestead is a glorious homage with its antique furnishings. The Gardens, awarded a 5 star Garden of National Significance rating by New Zealand Garden Trusts. Garden Grove Cafe & Bar, alongside a full size old-fashioned cricket pitch, is also part of the Woodlands experience.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Monday to Sunday 9.30 to 3.30pm. Entry fee applies.

Gordonton is a country town with its heritage church, outstanding heritage estate of Woodlands and mature trees lining the route through the village. Gordonton is characterised by a clean public toilet block where locals put fresh flowers in the toilets. The adjoining carpark is often frequented by coffee carts, fresh produce vendors from the area and in spring the stunning Clandon commercial daffodil growers with their gay yellow flowers in ordered bunches.

Kiwi preservation house and zoo in Otorohanga, New Zealand
Kiwi preservation house and zoo in Otorohanga
  1. Otorohanga main street with baskets of flowers

While not strictly a garden, the entire settlement exodudes garden charm with baskets of annual blooms gracing the main street. The town embraces street art, sculptures and statues with kiwiana the theme of the day. Postcard pretty main street is augmented with the Sir Ed Hillary walk a visual feast of kiwiana objects. Nearby the Otorohanga Historical Society Courthouse Museum, managed by volunteers, has replica buildings and exhibits and is a reservoir of local history.

  1. Aramatai Gardens

Extensive exotic and native plantings over undulating former paddocks has created a quiet oasis for visitors. There are numerous weeping trees overlooking small streams and pools. Rhododendrons, camellias, roses and perennials that flourish in the sheltered microclimate. The working vegetable garden and orchard hint at the practical origins of the garden. There is a special element with a 30-minute walk through our sheep and beef farm to a large picturesque hidden waterfall and native bush area.

The garden is open for public visitors, prior arrangement is necessary. Toilets on site. Morning / afternoon teas available on request prior to arrival.

For more ideas what to do in the vicinity of Aramatai Gardens scroll through Piopio, Waitomo district top 7 best things to do and what to see.


@Aramatai Gardens, Waikato, New Zealand
@Aramatai Gardens
Karioi Summit Track in Raglan Waikato, New Zealand
Karioi Summit Track
  1. Karioi summit – pre-european maori gardens

The people have left yet the evidence of gardening lingers. Climb to the top of an ancient volcano for spectacular views, or stop at a roadside viewing platform above what was once the site of extensive of Māori gardens. The three natural coastal amphitheaters at Te Toto were once the site of extensive Maori gardens. Remnants of stone rows which would have outlined garden plots can still be seen in places, as well two small pa, storage pits and terraces.

Karioi area: Places to go in Waikato. The Karioi area is 13 km south of Raglan. Leave Raglan on Wainui Rd, and continue on Whaanga Rd to Te Toto. The viewing platform is at Te Toto Gorge car park, and overlooks where the historic gardens once were.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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