Country Gardens of New Zealand
Discover the best of New Zealand’s enchanting private country gardens, and feast your eyes on a profusion of late-summer 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 visit 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 Bankhouse near Blenheim. Explore the meticulously manicured estates of Christchurch and marvel at the vibrant colours of Flaxmere Garden.
Arrive in Auckland on suggested Qantas or Air New Zealand flights and make your way to the hotel. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements including flights, private hotel transfer and a room category upgrade.
Tour arrangements commence at 18:00 with a welcome briefing by your tour leader, Elizabeth Swane, followed by dinner with Elizabeth and fellow tour members.
Today, visit a selection of interesting private gardens located in Auckland’s north. Travel to the Takatu Peninsula and explore a private garden 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. 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.
In the morning, visit 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.
Continue to the Auckland Botanic Gardens and 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 an afternoon at leisure to further explore Auckland at your own pace.
In the morning, check out of the hotel and travel to Hamilton to visit Hamilton Gardens. Often mistakenly referred to as a ‘botanic garden’, Hamilton Gardens is rather a collection of themed garden ‘rooms’, exploring different civilisations and recreating historically significant garden styles from around the world.
Continue to a beautiful private garden on the way to New Plymouth, surrounded by undulating hills which provide interesting contours for the planting. The garden consists of 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.
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 a peaceful private garden with stunning views to both the coast and the mountain, and a charming country garden nestled on a hilltop with spectacular views and a native garden sanctuary. Continue to a distinctive premier landscaped garden featuring a glade, glasshouse, old orchard and cliff cascade. Then, visit a 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 a large country garden located on a hilltop site with mountain views. The garden 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, another ‘Garden of National Significance’. 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 re-modelled 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 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 Allan Scott Wines, the family-owned winery established by Allan and Catherine Scott. Enjoy a guided tour followed by wine tasting with exceptional gardens and vistas to the vineyards beyond.
Arrive in Blenheim in the late afternoon.
Begin your exploration of the Marlborough area and its gardens with 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 17th 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 National 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.
This morning, visit Bankhouse Garden, one of the highlights of the Wairau Valley. Meander through the lower level into a shaded gully that hosts rhododendrons and bog plants. Continue towards the house and onwards to the upper-level garden terraces with rambling roses and a variety of drought-resistant plants.
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.
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.
Start the day with a visit to Flaxmere Garden, a NZ ‘Garden of International Significance’. Situated near the Southern Alps, this beautifully-landscaped garden is framed by breathtaking mountain vistas and heavily incorporates 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.
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, another ‘Garden of International Significance’. Ohinetahi is also home to sculpture and woodland trails, and a 19th 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, a private airport transfer and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Note: At time of publication (June 2020), 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
11 December 2020
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.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in four-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Talks with your tour leader, 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 – Hotel Grand Windsor****+
New Plymouth – The Millennium Waterfront Hotel****
Wellington – InterContinental****+
Blenheim – The Scenic Hotel Marlborough****
Christchurch – Crowne Plaza Christchurch****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.