Auckland Botanic Gardens
An oddity of Auckland City was the absence of formal botanic gardens for much of its history. This is especially weird given the interest of Kiwis in gardening and that such gardens are a feature of other cities and towns in NZ. Perhaps it was because there were so many other easy options for parks and recreation. But it also seems to have been a case of procrastination. The Auckland Botanic Gardens were first envisaged in the mid-1920s but were not opened in Manurewa until 1982!
From the 1920s, various sites were considered, including the Auckland Domain, Churchill Park in Glendowie, and land owned by Auckland University in East Tamaki. Nothing came of any of these suggestions. Then in 1968, Auckland City acquired 40 hectares of land from the Nathan family that had been farmed and was affected by motorway development and suburban expansion. Soil testing proved the land was perfect for a botanic garden and a plant nursery was established. It took another ten years for the park to open, in 1982, with a further expansion of 22.7 hectares.
Since then there have been many improvements and the Gardens have succeeded. There are numerous interesting and walkable plantings, from natives to unusual exotics. Rare and endangered plants are a particular focus. The Gardens have also developed as a sculpture park, with sculptures scattered around much of the area. The entrance building is also spectacular and has a good cafe. We may be slow but we get there in the end!
The main entrance is signposted on the Southern Motorway. Take the Hill Road offramp heading south and head north on Hill Road. The entrance is almost immediately on the left. Try to avoid fine weekends and school holidays – the gardens get about one million visitors each year!