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
Although much is known historically about these famous gardens of the ancient world, the experts consulted think this version at Hamilton Gardens will be the first time anyone has tried to recreate one.
It will be set within a high walled courtyard with a central step pool and colourful pergolas to provide shade.The designers have been surprised at the wide range of plants used by the ancient Egyptians, most having some form of religious significance or productive use.
A tall glasshouse will enclose the Pasifika Garden, a microclimate showcasing productive plants from the South Pacific: yam, talo, ta’amu, sweet potato, arrowroot, sugar cane, ti, paper mulberry, pandanus, taro, banana, breadfruit and possibly the kava and coconut.
It will also feature a Samoan fale afalau (shelter). Interpretation in the entrance foyer will explain the use and cultivation of these plants and their place in South Pacific cultures.
Most European medieval and early renaissance gardens were inspired by a very influential French poem called 'Roman de la Rose'. A 13th century courtyard garden would typically include reference to the poem and various Christian symbols.
This recreation will showcase plants used in medieval times for medicinal purposes. There’ll also be a glimpse into a minimalist monastic garden.
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.
Read more about the Hamilton Gardens Management Plan.
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