Country Gardens of New Zealand
Discover the best of New Zealand’s enchanting private country gardens, and feast your eyes on a profusion of peak springtime floral colour.
New Zealand is a hidden gem, combining English landscape gardening with colonial heritage, indigenous flora and Māori reverence for the natural world.
Begin in Auckland with a visit to Ayrlies Garden, the ‘quintessential New Zealand garden’, and explore Hamilton Gardens, which showcase 4,000 years of landscape design styles. Gain exclusive access to the outstanding private gardens of New Plymouth, and wander amidst densely textured borders in the bog gardens of Pepped Warbeck near Wellington.
Then, cross the Cook Strait to the South Island and discover the stunning gardens of Upton Oaks, Paripuma and Barewood near Blenheim. Explore the meticulously manicured estates of Christchurch and marvel at the vibrant colours of Flaxmere Garden.
**POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE**
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Arrive in Auckland on suggested Qantas or Air New Zealand flights and make your way to the hotel. Please note that current Qantas and Air New Zealand flight schedules require arrival into Auckland on 11 November. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements including flights, private hotel transfer and pre-tour accommodation.
Tour arrangements commence at 12:00 with a welcome briefing by your tour leader, Elizabeth Swane.
Then, transfer to Ayrlies Garden, situated in the gently rolling country of east Auckland. This is one of New Zealand’s best-known gardens, characterised by sweeping lawns and informal plantings beside ponds and waterways.
Today, visit a selection of verdant and creative private gardens located in Auckland’s north. Travel to the Takatu Peninsula and explore Omaio garden, listed by the New Zealand Gardens Trust as a ‘Garden of International Significance’. The property is laid out in curving, flowing shapes which reflect the waves and coastal formations beyond, sculpted out of native bush and other carefully selected plants.
Continue to the Brick Bay Wines & Sculpture Trail, which showcases contemporary sculpture by New Zealand’s leading artists in a stunning natural environment of native bush, wildlife and ponds.
In the afternoon, visit a large cottage garden built around a Georgian-style home, also listed as a ‘Garden of International Significance’. This rural garden, set amongst the remnants of an old orchard, displays native walkways, spring plantings of cherries, rhododendrons, camellias, acers and Victorian-inspired glasshouses.
This morning, explore a carefully cultivated garden bursting with springtime colour and continue to the Auckland Botanic Gardens. Explore this young botanic garden that has been created from gently contoured farmland. The mild temperate climate allows the gardens to display a wide variety of plants.
Then, enjoy some time at leisure to further explore Auckland at your own pace before dinner at local restaurant.
In the morning, depart Auckland and travel to Hamilton Gardens. Often mistakenly referred to as a ‘botanic garden’, Hamilton Gardens display a collection of themed garden ‘rooms’, exploring different civilisations and recreating historically significant garden styles from around the world.
Continue to Aramatai Gardens on the way to New Plymouth, a beautiful private garden surrounded by undulating hills which provide interesting contours for the planting. The property includes beautiful mature trees, natives, magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias, roses, irises and lilies. There are also two large natural ponds with water lilies and natural rock formations.
Arrive in New Plymouth in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Today, explore several picturesque gardens in New Plymouth and the Taranaki region. New Plymouth is home to some of New Zealand’s most stunning private and public gardens, including relaxed, cottage-style gardens and highly structured formal creations, which are ordinarily only open for the annual Taranaki Garden Festival.
Explore Stanleigh Garden, a charming country garden nestled on a hilltop with spectacular views to the coast and Mount Taranaki, followed by a native garden sanctuary, Waiongana garden.
Continue to Tupare, a distinctive landscaped garden featuring a glade, glasshouse, old orchard and cliff cascade. Then, visit a carefully designed inner-city native garden that mimics New Zealand’s natural environment with lush ferns, wetland plants, alpine treasures and native trees.
Depart New Plymouth for a leisurely day’s drive to Wellington.
En route, visit Puketarata, a large country garden with stunning mountain views that displays a skilled blending of many native and exotic plants, generous herbaceous plantings, parterre, orchard, berry house and vegetable garden.
Arrive in Wellington in the late afternoon.
Begin with a walking orientation tour of the vibrant city of Wellington, nestled around the harbour and surrounded by natural scenery.
Then, drive into the picturesque Ohariu Valley to Pepped Warbeck garden. The garden consists of a grand entrance and long curving drive, planted with Marlborough daisies and many different native trees and shrubs. Extensive lawns sweep down to the remodelled bog garden, which features five adjoining ponds planted with primulas, bog irises, hostas and gunnera.
Return to Wellington in the mid-afternoon and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Depart Wellington and enjoy the scenic crossing on the Interislander ferry to Picton on the South Island. Cross the Cook Strait before entering the magnificent Marlborough Sounds. The three-hour journey between Wellington and Picton is considered one of the most spectacular sea voyages in the world.
Upon arrival in Picton, continue to Wither Hills winery in the renowned Marlborough wine region for a tasting of the area’s iconic Sauvignon Blanc.
Arrive in Blenheim in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Begin your exploration of the Marlborough area and its gardens with the unique and extensive topiary hedges of Welton House, which mirror the stunning Richmond Ranges.
Then, explore Huguette Michel’s Hortensia House. The Monet-inspired garden is informal in design and is loosely themed on blue and yellow, capturing an essence of serenity and reflecting the colours of the house.
Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
This morning, visit Upton Oaks, the English-inspired garden of Dave and Sue Monahan developed around a restored 1911 Victorian villa. Brick walls, ponds, perennial borders and a seventeenth-century style ‘knot garden’ are divided into sections by colour and a rustic kitchen garden.
Continue to Barewood Garden for a guided tour and lunch. Recognised as a ‘Garden of International Significance’, Barewood garden is designed to complement the 100-year-old homestead, and features formal allées of hawthorn and Malus, plantings of unusual trees and shrubs, and a classic potager featuring espaliered fruit.
In the afternoon, explore Paripuma Garden with its unique collection of indigenous and rare plant species that have created a haven for wildlife on what was once a bare sandy paddock.
Depart Blenheim for a leisurely day’s drive to Christchurch.
En route, visit Winterhome Garden, featuring classical French lines with intersecting cross axes creating unexpected views within the plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials.
Arrive in Christchurch in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Start the day with a visit to Flaxmere Garden, a ‘Garden of International Significance’. Situated near the Southern Alps, this beautifully-landscaped garden is framed by breathtaking mountain vistas and embraces water features in the form of five terraced ponds.
After a light lunch, continue to Christchurch Botanic Gardens and explore the verdant array of native and international flora, also showcasing springperennials and roses.
Begin the day with a visit of the Giant’s House sculpture mosaic garden, a unique exuberant and colourful property located in a valley in Akaroa. The garden surrounds the large historic house with original artworks, and terraced gardens with sculptures and mosaics.
After lunch, discover Ohinetahi Gardens, a well-structured and carefully-designed garden also home to sculpture and woodland trails, box-edged rose garden, and a nineteenth-century homestead.
Enjoy a morning at leisure to explore Christchurch at your own pace.
In the early afternoon, visit Broadfields New Zealand Landscape Gardens, a designed landscape garden featuring native species used formally and informally, a Kauri forest, shrubs, climbers and ferns.
Continue to Frensham Gardens, an English-style country garden which combines structured formal ‘rooms’ near the homestead with overflowing floral borders and an expansive woodland area.
In the evening, join Elizabeth and fellow travellers for a special farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Make your way to Christchurch Airport for suggested Qantas or Air New Zealand flights to Australia. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour, private airport transfers and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Note: At time of publication (August 2021), most but not all garden visits were confirmed. Private owners, in particular, are reluctant to commit more than two to three months prior to the visit. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
13 September 2021
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Qantas / Air New Zealand
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian passport holders do not require a visa for New Zealand. For up-to-date information on entry requirements into New Zealand, please refer to https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in four-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinner
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Expertise and insights of your tour leader, garden specialist Elizabeth Swane
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- Airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, minibar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Auckland – SkyCity Hotel****+
New Plymouth – The Millennium Waterfront Hotel****
Wellington – Novotel****
Blenheim – The Scenic Hotel Marlborough****
Christchurch – Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.