Fifty years ago, the site of Hamilton Gardens was a bleak landscape with no indication of its past as a centre of Maaori settlement and horticulture.
The area had been used as a rifle range by Victorian era residents, and in the 20th century became a sand quarry and then the city's rubbish dump. Covered in weeds and blackberry bushes with seagulls circling above, it would've been hard to imagine the transformation ahead. With minimal budgets, volunteers and community groups have dedicated thousands of hours and resources to develop the barren 54 hectare site into a free public park.
Today, the award-winning Hamilton Gardens has five garden collections with more than 20 themed gardens and is the Waikato's most popular attraction with over a million visitors every year.
Under development at Hamilton Gardens
Our 2018-2022 Development Programme also includes four more gardens: the Ancient Egyptian Garden, Pasifika Garden, Medieval Garden, the Baroque Garden, and a linking courtyard and paths. There will also be a new toilet block in the western area of the Enclosed Gardens. Subscribe to our development newsletter and get behind-the-scenes news delivered to your inbox.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN GARDEN
A ‘Middle Kingdom’ temple garden that displays many of the common ancient Egyptian garden features such as: a symmetrical layout enclosed within high mud brick walls, dramatic entranceway, a ‘step pool’ stocked with fish, and vine covered pergolas for shade.
Most of the plants they used for offerings, cures, rituals and processions can be grown in this climate. Despite the wealth of information on these sophisticated ancient gardens, there is no trace of one being recreated in modern times.
This garden will display plants from the South Pacific islands and their closest equivalents. In the centre, a Samoan Fale Afalau shelter will provide an event or teaching space as well as screen the upper glass structure.
Within a jungle setting productive plants would be grown such as the: yam, talo, ta’amu, sweet potato, arrowroot, sugar cane, ti, paper mulberry, pandanus, taro, banana, breadfruit; possibly the kava and coconut showing their use and cultivation.
From the fall of the Roman empire through to the 16th century, a distinctive form of medieval garden was the monastic, cloistered courtyard. The structure of the courts in this example are based on the ruins of St John of the Hermits Monastery in Sicily.
One court is a simple Cloister Garth, which was a form of courtyard generally used by the monks for prayer and contemplation. The other is an Apothecary’s Garden, which supported the healing of the sick in a monastic hospital.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, European royalty developed dramatic theatrical gardens that included the elements of stage set design. These gardens weren’t just used for theatrical events, they provided a setting for important people to dress up in expensive clothes and powdered wigs and to be seen.
This German or Austrian form will feature a Rococo / Baroque façade, large reflecting pool and two sculptural groups. This garden design has a direct association with classical music, linking it to the arts inspired theme of the Fantasy Collection.
We need your support
Hamilton Gardens has been built on a long tradition of community support. For more than 40 years community groups and local trusts have worked alongside Hamilton City Council to transform the former rubbish dump into award winning gardens.
You can support the development of Hamilton Gardens through donating online and sponsorship. All donations to the Hamilton Gardens Development Trust are eligible for a tax rebate.
"The potential for this place is so exciting. I think this is the best-kept secret in New Zealand."
Sir Michael Hill, Patron Hamilton Gardens Development Trust
“The concept is, by far, the most exciting I have seen in my twenty-year career as a researcher in the field of garden tourism. Hamilton could join the ranks of the five international destination gardens... this is because the vision, as stated, is indeed unique in the world and visually spectacular.”
Professor Richard Benfield, Central Connecticut State University, World authority on Garden Tourism
“It’s unlike anywhere else in New Zealand or in the world. I have not been to a garden as good anywhere, and I mean anywhere. Immaculately presented. Just stunning. They’ve quietly created a revolutionary new garden under everyone’s noses.”
Lynda Hallinan, New Zealand’s leading garden writer
Thank you to our sponsors and supporters
We are also grateful for the donations we have received from:
- Members of the former Hamilton Club (2017)
- Vibrant Hamilton Trust
- E.B Firth Charitable Trust
- Sir Miles Warren
- David and Rae Braithwaite
- Jon and Sue Tanner via Momentum Waikato Community Foundation
- Bernie and Kaye Crosby via Momentum Waikato Community Foundation
- Bernice and Jenny Screech
- The Maber Family
- Julie, Kate, and Ken Williamson via Momentum Waikato Community Foundation
- Glenn and Catherine Holmes
- Richard and Jan Seabrook
- Richard and Sheryl Trench
- The Fraser Family
- John and Glenice Gallagher