5 Reasons You Must visit HAMILTON GARDENS in New Zealand


1. Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand is like a Disneyworld of gardens. It is a unique concept! You don’t have to be an avid gardener to enjoy and appreciate it!

2. In 1960 the Hamilton Gardens area was a bleak rubbish dump.  The transformation is SIMPLY miraculous!

3. When was the last time you visited an international award winning garden -2014 prestigious “International Garden Tourism Area,”  that attracts over a million visitors a year. 

4. It’s an excellent and very easy day trip from Auckland.  and an excellent and very easy stop off on your road trip through the North Island. 

5. It’s free and you can pop in for just an hour or two to check out a couple of gardens or make a day of it with lunch at the riverside cafe or a picnic on a picturesque spot of your choosing.

Roger's Rose Garden
Te Parapara Traditional Maori Garden
Italian Renaissance Garden 2.jpg
Italian Renaissance Garden
Roger's Rose Garden
  • Who knew that tucked away in Hamilton in New Zealand is this unique 54-hectare international award-winning garden that was once the local rubbish dump?
  • Aucklanders usually just fly through the Hamilton bypass on their way south without giving Hamilton a second glance. However, in 2020 Hamilton won “New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Large City ” award so we headed on down to Hamilton to check out if this was true!
  • One of the key factors in the win for Hamilton was the Hamilton Gardens. They are easily accessed in Hamilton East and located on 54 hectares of large park-like grounds on the banks of the Waikato River. It is indeed a beautiful setting in its own right and the transformation from the noisy smelly rubbish dump that it was back in the 1960s is quite unbelievable.
  • We’ve listed the gardens below.
  • Take a look through the photos, which will give you some idea of what you will find as you explore them. The variety and creativity is impressive!
  • Around every corner and along every pathway is another interesting or maybe quirky garden that will have you exclaiming “Wow! Look at that!”

1. fantasy garden collection 

Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand

The Mansfield Garden

This was one of our favourite gardens. It is an interpretation of the early 20th century New Zealand garden described in Katherine Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party.”  It was so inviting and we so much wanted to join in the party. The marquee on the grass tennis court was set up with long tables covered in plates of food and drink (concrete & resin) and the piano and cello (also concrete and resin) were ready to be picked up and played. 

Mansfield Garden, Hamilton Gardens
Mansfield Garden By Hamilton Gardens.jpg
Party treats in the Mansfield Garden by

The Surrealist Garden

Entering the garden and being transformed into a very small person with the giant door and giant gardening tools was an interesting experience, along with the eerie, mechanically moving tree branches swaying. 

“The garden takes up the theme of surrealist art by exploring the mysterious world of dreams and the subconscious mind.”

Surrealist Garden in Hamilton Gardens
The Surrealist Garden
The Surrealist Garden

The Tudor Garden

We watched in awe as one of the gardeners was on her hands and knees trimming the hedge maze by hand! 

“A feature of most Tudor gardens were the beasts on green and white striped poles. None have survived and the only other known reconstruction is at Hampton Court. They include; a griffin, dragon, centaur, phoenix, unicorn, satyr, sea serpent and Bottom – one of the primary characters from William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 

Tudor Garden by Hamilton Gardens
Tudor Garden beast by Hamilton Gardens

The Picturesque Garden

” Generally inspired by paintings of wild romantic landscapes, these gardens were intended to appeal to not only the eye but the heart and the mind. There was often a sequence of freatures that referred to fantasy stories.”

Picturesque Garden by Hamilton Gardens
Picturesque Garden
Picturesque Garden by Hamilton Gardens

The Concept Garden 

The Huddlestone airship took us completely by surprise!  This was one of the last gardens we visited and we were on sensory overload!

“The emerging conceptual garden movement is essentially a form of outdoor conceptual art. “

Huddlestone Airship in the Concept Garden

The Chinoiserie Garden

 “‘Chinoiserie’ is the name of the resulting style that reinvented Chinese and Japanese art but often produced work that was quite original. It was fashionable in Western Europe throughout the eighteenth century. This is  a garden incorporating fanciful European fantasy interpretations of Oriental design that were fashionable in the late 18th and 19th-century gardens.”

Unfortunately. the Chinoiserie Garden was closed while we were there but the picture below shows the Perfume Garden House.

Perfume Garden by russelstreet (Flickr)

2. Paradise Garden Collection- Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand 

Italian Rennaissance Garden

This took us right back to memories of Tuscany. The impressive centre piece is made up of four marble lions surrounding a water fountain.  

“This is an interpretation of the 15th to 16th century Renaissance Gardens that sought to rationalize and improve upon nature.”

Italian Renaissance Garden.jpg

We loved the multi-level fountains and terraces, potted citrus trees and arched trellises.  

Italian Renaissance Garden 2

The Modernist Garden

Modernist Garden

The tiled Marilyn Monroe portrait took us by surprise.

“A late 20th century garden for outdoor living designed in the American West Coast tradition.”

Modernist gardens were mainly 20th-century creations and included elements like swimming pools, barbecues, and outdoor eating areas.

Generally, there is little ornamentation in true Modernist gardens, detailing is simple and there is a lack of formality. 


Indian Char Bagh Garden

It reminded us of our trip through India and finding peaceful and serene gardens just off the busy, noisy, turmoil of the towns and cities.  The Indian Char Bargh Garden sits over the river so you enjoy river views too!

“An interpretation of the 16-17th century gardens. symbolic for the quartered gardens built for Mughal aristocracy as an escape from a harsh environment.”

Indian Char Bagh Garden

Japanese Garden of Contemplation

“An example of 14th -16th century Muromachi Period Gardens designed for quiet contemplation and study.”

Japanese Garden of Contemplation 1
Japanese Garden

Chinese Scholars Garden

The short stroll through the bamboo forest prepared us for the Chinese Scholars Garden.

“An interpretation of the 10th to 12th Century Sung Dynasty Gardens that were designed as natural worlds of imagination and surprise!” 

Chinese Scholars Garden
Chinese Scholars Garden 3
Chinese Scholars Garden

English Flower Garden

“An example of English 10th Century Arts and Crafts Gardens designed as a setting for plant collections and planned seasonal colour compositions.” 

English Flower Garden


Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand

These four gardens are an important group of gardens as the produce is used in the local cafe, is used to make goods like Lemon Herb Aioli, Lemon Curd, Seville Orange Marmalade, Seville Orange and Cranberry Sauce, Gardener’s Chutney, and Quince Paste, that are sold in the shop or donated to  Kaivolution, a local charity that provides fresh food to local people in need. There is no waste here!

Eggs from the chickens have been used for lemon curd, the Seville oranges from the Renaissance Garden have been made into marmalade, and honey has been harvested from the beehives in the Sustainable Backyard Garden.

There’s also a chutney made from tomatoes grown in the Wintec Kitchen and Herb Garden, and a Mughal chutney from the Seville oranges. All the excess produce now being used for products used to be composted.

Te Parapara Traditional Maori Garden

This garden demonstrates traditional Maori horticulture and shows how local Māori grew food in gardens on the banks of the Waikato River before European settlement.

Te Parapara Traditional Maori Garden

The Herb Garden, Kitchen Garden & Sustainable Backyard Gardens. 

Scarecow- guards the vegetable garden

I fell in love with this scarecrow who guarded the vegetable patch!

“The Herb Garden is a traditional garden that displays plants used by early New Zealand colonists in food preparation, perfumes and medicines.” 

“The Kitchen Garden is a traditional 17th to 19th-century productive garden that was used to supply the household of large European estates.” It includes vegetables and small fruit, is maintained by Waikato Institute of Technology students and staff. All surplus produce from the Kitchen Garden is given to Kaivolution, a local charity that provides fresh food to local people in need:  

“The Sustainable Backyard Garden demonstrates principles of sustainable food production on a backyard scale.It features chickens which are moved around different beds, a worm farm, composting, liquid manure barrels, and a range of fruit trees, berries and vines. ” 

4. Cultivar Garden Collection

Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand

“The Cultivar Garden Collection is the closest Hamilton Gardens comes to being a botanical garden. Gardens in the Cultivar Collection include well-known plants which have been selected and bred for gardens at different times throughout history by collectors, breeders and speculators. “

The Cultivar Garden Collection is made up of the very beautiful Roger’s Rose Garden, the Rhododendron Lawn, Hammond Camelia Center , the Victorian Flower Garden and the New Zealand Cultivar Garden. 

Rogers’ Rose Garden

No explanation required! Roses galore of every size shape and color with that gorgeous aroma!

Rogers Rose Garden
Gorgeous roses in Roger's Rose Garden
In Roger's Rose Garden

The Rhododendrum Lawn, the Victoria Flower Garden, the Hammond Camelia Garden 


Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand

Busacco Woodland, Valley Walk, Echo Bank Bush & Hamilton East Park Cemetry 

“The Landscape Garden Collection forms the outer spaces of the Hamilton Gardens site, and includes landscape gardens. They’re great for short nature walks. 

Hamilton Gardens layout

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW! Practical information

How do I get to Hamilton Gardens?
  • Hamilton Gardens are In Hungerford Crescent, Hamilton East off Cobham Drive, SH1, Hamilton.
  • It’s 5 minutes drive to/from Central Hamilton and there’s plenty of free parking.
  • From Hamilton City catch a bus on Route 17 – Hamilton Gardens. The bus stop is at the main Gate 1 carpark. 
  • OR walk (about 30 minutes) or cycle alongside the Waikato River between Hamilton Gardens and the city centre. 
  • Hamilton Gardens is 45 minutes from Hobbiton and 1 hour from the Waitomo Caves.
  • From Auckland, it’s about a two-hour easy drive south on SH1.
How much does it cost?
  • Entry is free! Yes! You heard it right. At the time of writing (December 2020) the entry is free, but donations are gratefully received.
  • You can buy a map of the gardens for $2 at the information centre.
What time is it open? Are there any guided tours?
  • The gardens are open from 7.30 am to 7. 30 pm every day.
  • The information centre and shop are open from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • Guided tours- every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 11.am ($20 adult $13.50- children 6-14 yrs)
Can I get food and drink there?
  • Hamilton Gardens Cafe provides visitors to the Hamilton Gardens with a warm, inviting cafe experience.
  • Enjoy a large alfresco dining area with views across turtle lake.
  • Choose from a delicious range of freshly prepared food from our cabinet or seasonal menu.
  • Open 9.30 am to 4 pm

And you can bring your own picnic and find a great place in the huge park like grounds to enjoy it!

The Cafe at Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand

Thanks to Hamilton Gardens for information supplied and some photographs.

For further information go to https://hamiltongardens.co.nz/

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