Take in the stunning beauty of New Zealand with a garden tour of our best parks, gardens, and reserves. Spend time with gardeners passionate about their craft and learn about their garden design, motivations and plant choices as they introduce you to their private properties. New Zealand has a treasure trove of beautiful gardens of national and regional significant – both public and private. This tour includes two well-known gardening events; the Taranaki Gardens Festival and the Garden Marlborough Festival.
Day 1 Saturday 31 October 2020 – HOME CITIES TO NEW PLYMOUTH (D)
Today we travel to New Plymouth travelling State Highway 3 via Te Kuiti, and the Awakino Gorge Road to Mokau. We stop here for you to purchase your lunch. Upon arrival in New Plymouth, we commence our garden visits with time at Pukekura Park. Located in the heart of New Plymouth City, this 52-hectare park has an amazing range of both native and exotic plants all displayed in a natural setting with many wonderful views and vistas of the lakes and Mt Taranaki. A must see are the fernery and display houses. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Autolodge Motor Lodge New Plymouth – 3 nights
Day 2 Sunday 1 November 2020 – ‘POWERCO TARANAKI GARDEN SPECTACULAR’ (B)
Today we take in a city sights tour of New Plymouth featuring the gardens of this unique town. Our first garden visit for the day is the historical Tupare Gardens. Tūpare is a premier landscaped garden with a unique homestead, originally developed by Sir Russell Matthews and his family from 1932. Sculpted from a hillside overlooking the Waiwhakaiho River, the plantings and landscapes remain true to its heritage. As you walk the winding paths cut into the hillside, you’ll find stately trees, deciduous maples, copper beeches and dawn redwoods, as well as a stunning collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, and hydrangeas that were all carefully planted by Sir Russell. This afternoon visit Pukeiti Gardens, a 360-hectare rainforest property located between Mount Taranaki and the coast, just south of New Plymouth. Established in 1951, Pukeiti is an internationally recognised garden and plant collection. Renowned for rhododendrons, Pukeiti also features sub-tropical Vireyas, magnolia, pieris, prunus, styrax, camellia, deutzia, daphne and many more for all-year-round interest. The garden also features thousands of bulbs and herbaceous plants along with plantings of natives. As we leave Pukeiti and head back to our hotel, time allowing, we can stop along the way at a local garden or two. On arriving back in New Plymouth we are free to explore the city. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Day 3 Monday 2 November 2020 – NEW PLYMOUTH GARDENS (B)
Today we visit a variety of private gardens that open exclusively during the festival. This will depend on the gardens that will be participating. They offer an intriguing mixture of both unique and stunning gardens, each with their own story to tell. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Day 4 Tuesday 3 November 2020 – NEW PLYMOUTH TO WELLINGTON (BD)
Leaving New Plymouth after breakfast we will transfer today to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. En route we will visit the amazing structure that is the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge for a photo stop, before continuing to the outstanding Paloma Gardens at Wanganui, which has four distinct areas. The first contains foliage, bamboos, palms, alocasias, ferns and cycads. The second has many species of cyads, e.g. Dioons from Mexico, and species from Madagascar, the Solomon Islands and beyond. Also growing here are Pachypodiums (related to frangipani) with different species flowering most of the year, Euphorbias, and oddities like Welwitschia mirabilis and Dioscorea elephantipes, the climber with the way-out base. The third area is on the north-facing hillside and features succulents, cacti, palm forest and a giant African Lobelia tree. Finally, there is the Paloma Arboretum, with extensive tree plantings. Paloma is classified as a Garden of National Significance. We continue our journey south through the rural towns of Marton, Bulls and Foxton to the scenic Kapiti Coast road into Wellington City, New Zealand’s capital city. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington – 2 nights
Day 5 Wednesday 4 November 2020 – WELLINGTON (B)
This morning we enjoy an informative sightseeing tour, New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. We begin with a visit to Otari/Wilton’s Bush, New Zealand’s only native botanic garden, devoted solely to the cultivation and preservation of indigenous plants. Predominant native trees include mahoe, tawa, kohekohe, rewarewa, hinau and northern rata. Other features at Otari include a fernery, a small alpine garden, rock garden with adjoining fish pool and a wild garden, all easily accessed by a network of paths and boardwalks. Next take a ride on the one hundred year-old cable car from the city centre up to the Botanic Gardens. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the gardens and our capital city. Highly recommend is a visit to Te Papa, (Our Place) New Zealand’s national museum, which truly is not like any other national museum in the world. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Day 6 Thursday 5 November 2020 – WELLINGTON TO BLENHEIM (BD)
This morning we board the Interislander Ferry and cross Cook Strait to Picton in the South Island. The last part of the cruise through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds is especially scenic. In Picton we board our coach and travel through to Blenheim, where forty years ago there was hardly a commercial grape grown in the Blenheim area. Now the Marlborough district is the top wine producing area in New Zealand with its wines winning awards around the world. Today visit the sumptuous tasting room and cellar at Wither Hills Vineyards. Wither Hills produces award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winery is named after the imposing Wither Hills ranges, which form a dramatic backdrop to our vineyards which enjoy long sunlight hours, cool nights and are nourished by the waters of the Wairau River. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Chateau Marlborough, Blenheim – 2 nights
Day 7 Friday 6 November 2020 – BLENHEIM ‘GARDEN MARLBOROUGH FESTIVAL’ (BL)
Today we visit the Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough event. On this day tour, we’ll be taken to the paradise of Marlborough’s most unique and sensational gardens, travelling along the spectacular eastern seaboard and through the valleys and plains of the Marlborough country side and into Blenheim’s urban hideaways. It’s not only beauty, form and colour, but energy, passion, hard work and diversity that see gardens selected for our tour. We will have a volunteer courier that will host us throughout the day. These friendly and helpful people will pass on their knowledge of the region and give background information and history on the province as we travel between the glorious gardens that make up our tour of Marlborough. A light lunch will be included today. We will be introduced to the garden owners and they will share their wonderful gardens with us. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Day 8 Saturday 7 November 2020 – BLENHEIM TO CHRISTCHURCH (BD)
Depart Blenheim and drive along a thin ledge of land pinned between the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged ranges to Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea then travel across the farmlands of the North Canterbury Plains. Continue south where on our arrival we enjoy the sights of the ‘Garden City’ also known as “the most English city outside of England”. Highlights include the Botanical Gardens, River Avon, the Canterbury Museum and Arts Centre, Bridge of Remembrance, and the Spanish Mission inspired New Regent Street. Learn about the effects of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold, Christchurch
Day 9 Sunday 8 November 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH TO ASHBURTON (BLD)
After breakfast today we enjoy a guided tour of Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where land was first set aside in 1849. The first oak tree was planted in 1863 to mark the marriage of Edward VII and development has continued over the years, including a native New Zealand garden, the Cockayne garden of native alpine plants, the renowned central Rose Garden, extensive herbaceous borders, a floral conservatory and a fernery. More recent additions include an alpine house and a house for bromeliads and orchids. Departing Christchurch our next garden visit is to Akaunui Historic House and Gardens. The Akaunui garden was originally designed by Alfred Buxton, established over 100 years ago. During the last 15 years major developments have taken place and the garden now covers 6 hectares and includes magnificent old trees (both native and exotic) and a wide variety of recently planted species. There is a pond, a creek and a bog garden, a woodland garden with a large collection of rhododendrons and associated plants; formal and less formal gardens, many roses and a productive vegetable garden. The garden complements the imposing century old double storey brick homestead. Today enjoy lunch at the Akaunui Homestead. On our return to Ashburton we visit Trott’s Gardens. The woodland area was developed around a series of gently curving paths. Later the water gardens were added and finally the English inspired formal gardens. The layout is such that the garden areas are integrated yet contain elements of surprise as visitors explore. Dinner tonight is included at the hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel Ashburton
Day 10 Monday 9 November 2020 – ASHBURTON TO DUNEDIN (B)
Departing Ashburton, we travel down the coast through Timaru and then Temuka, which is known for its pottery and Oamaru with its lovely white stone buildings. Stop at Moeraki Boulders to see these unusual giant marble-like boulders on the beach before arriving into Dunedin, a city proud of its Scottish Heritage. On arrival, head out to the Otago Peninsula, firstly to visit the gardens surrounding Larnach Castle which present a more formal aspect with an expansive lawn and symmetrically planted conifers, and you could perhaps imagine yourself at a country house in Scotland. However, just beyond the wishing well lies a rainforest garden full of unfamiliar native species: ponga, kauri, totara, rimu and cabbage trees. Our next stop is the Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens, situated in a coastal valley overlooking the magnificent Otago Harbour. Sheltered by a ring of pine and eucalypts, Glenfalloch features original European trees from 1872, with much underplanting. In the summer, native clematis climb the trees, with peonies and lilies flowering beneath. There is also a bush walk through ancient matai, where birdlife includes tui, bellbirds and native pigeons. We then travel back into Dunedin to settle in for the evening. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Accommodation: The Victoria Hotel, Dunedin
Day 11 Tuesday 10 November 2020 – DUNEDIN TO TE ANAU (B)
Depart and travel through the southern suburbs of Dunedin and on to the fertile Taieri Plains where sheep and dairying are the primary industries. Travel past unique Lake Waihola and then through undulating farmland crossing the fast flowing Clutha River at Balclutha. We stop for a visit to Maple Glen – a 25 acre private garden, nursery, aviary, woodland and wetland set in the rolling green countryside of Southland. Maple Glen is home to a large population of native and exotic birds including hand reared parrots and waterfowl. Continue west arriving in the country town of Gore on the banks of the Mataura River for a visit to the Gore Public Gardens. The present design is based on the historic layout and incorporates many mature trees such as the gigantic Wellingtonia and horizontal elms planted at that time. Among the exotic trees and shrubs are a number of rare and unusual specimens including those in the extensive conifer borders. This afternoon arrive in Te Anau where the mountains of Fiordland National Park are easily seen in the distance. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau
Day 12 Wednesday 11 November 2020 – TE ANAU TO MILFORD SOUNDS TO QUEENSTOWN (BL)
Depart Te Anau for a full day excursion travelling via Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park, part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and leaping waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest. We depart Milford Sound Wharf and cruise down the fiord past Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea enjoying the stunning scenery of cascading waterfalls, dense rainforest, steep cliff faces and marine life that inhabits these waters. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch while onboard. Return to Te Anau travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley. From Te Anau travel through the quaint settlements of Mossburn, Athol and Garston then travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Lakefront, Queenstown – 2 nights
Day 13 Thursday 12 November 2020 – QUEENSTOWN (B)
Farewell from New Zealand, today you will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch Airport to connect with your homeward flight.
Day 14 Friday 13 November 2020 – DEPART QUEENSTOWN (B)
Today you will be transferred from the hotel to Queenstown Airport for your flight to your home city.