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The project to develop four new themed gardens and key infrastructure upgrades at Hamilton Gardens has reached its $7.2million funding target ahead of schedule. read more



The Hamilton Gardens Destination Playground opened on 15 December 2016 to a crowd of children and their families, sponsors and Hamilton City Council and Hamilton Gardens staff. Hamilton Mayor Andrew King was in attendance with former mayor Julie Hardaker.

Hamilton Gardens is grateful to the following partners who have made contributions towards the playground:

  • Lottery Grants Board
  • Trust Waikato
  • WEL Energy Trust
  • Brian Perry Charitable Trust
  • Grassroots Trust
  • Vibrant Hamilton Trust
  • Combined Rotary Hamilton Clubs
  • Friends of Hamilton Gardens
  • Hamilton Gardens Development Trust
  • Black Dog Furniture



Things are progressing quickly at the site of the Hamilton Gardens Destination Playground.

The playground, which has a garden theme, is another great asset for Hamilton Gardens and part of the ongoing developments at the region’s #1 visitor destination.



The Destination Playground gratefully received grants of $350,000 from Vibrant Hamilton Trust and $80,000 from Grassroots Trust. 

The Destination Playground is different from other playgrounds because it is a children’s garden with a playground set within the garden. It will feature the Jade Dragon Theatre which is presented by Brian Perry Charitable Trust, the very secret garden of Abdul Kabul, a turf maze, picnic tables and umbrellas, play equipment and a family toilet. Work on the new playground is scheduled to begin in the next couple of months. 



A $110,000 grant from the Brian Perry Charitable Trust has propelled the Hamilton Gardens development project to within $1m of its $7.033m fundraising target.

A total of $6.033m has been raised over the past 18 months for the project, which Mayor Julie Hardaker describes an amazing result. 

“My sincere thanks to the Perry family for this significant grant. The Trust is one of Hamilton’s great contributors and I know I speak for all Hamiltonians who love and enjoy the gardens when I say we are hugely grateful for the contributions that have been made by companies, charitable trusts and individuals,” she says.

“To achieve this amount of money in such a short period of time is quite overwhelming. It shows that our residents share our vision of building internationally recognised, world-class gardens.”

Brian Perry Charitable Trust Chair Simon Perry says the trust is passionate about the Waikato and has supported the community for nearly four decades.

“Hamilton Gardens are exceptional,” he says. “They are world class and we’re very proud to align ourselves with the next steps in the development of this iconic attraction.”

The Trust will fund the construction of the Jade Dragon Theatre, which is the centrepiece of a destination playground at the Gardens. Up to 250 people will be able to view performances on the stage, which will be used for children’s shows and for other events at the Gardens, such as the Arts Festival.

The Hamilton Gardens destination playground will feature a turf maze, an enchanted secret garden named after a mysterious magician and a treehouse lawn. It will encourage children to think of an imaginary world, will inspire role play, and encourage them to incorporate games, puzzles, discovery and learning as they play. The playground is one of 15 destination playgrounds which will be built across the city until 2030 as part of the Council’s Playgrounds of the Future Plan. It is scheduled to open in December.

Mr Perry says supporting the Jade Dragon Theatre was the logical choice for the Trust, which has a focus on supporting youth.  He says the playground is a wonderful way to engage children and the accessibility and legacy of the playground is important to the Trust.

“We see a lot of value in enhancing what is undoubtedly one of our region’s greatest assets,” Mr Perry says. “The Gardens development, the River Plan, the Te Awa River Ride – we firmly believe that continued development of attractions like these will add significant economic benefits to our region.”

The Hamilton Gardens development project involves the construction of five new gardens within four years. The Tudor Garden opened in 2015 and creation of the Surrealist, Mansfield, Concept and Picturesque gardens is well underway.

The project also includes the construction of three central courts to separate individual gardens and a jetty on the Waikato River below the Italian Garden Renaissance pavilion.

We would like to thank the Hamilton Gardens Development Project major partners.

Pictured above: Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker (right) and Perry Charitable Trust members Marlene Julian, Barry Coombes and Tiffiney Perry (front) with an artist’s impression of the Jade Dragon Theatre, which will be built at Hamilton Gardens with a $110,000 grant from the Trust.


There’s a lot happening on the Hamilton Gardens Development Programme at present. Lawn Court

Work has started work on the Mansfield house frontage while some of the pergolas, walls and fences are completed within the Mansfield Garden. The Lawn Court has been opened so that visitors can now complete the circuit around the Sustainable and Kitchen Gardens. 

The installation of the automatic irrigation system in the Mansfield and Picturesque Garden areas is close to completion. Gardens staff are currently planting the Concept Garden and cleaning up the adjacent riverbanks and Nursery staff are sourcing plants for this year’s extensive planting programme. Work continues on tenders for the Surrelist Garden and finalising desings on the tronite structures.

The first stage of the carpark extension has started and design work is underway on the playground.



​Transforming a rubbish dump into internationally award-winning gardens has earned Hamilton City Council the top prize in the 2016 McGredy Winder SOLGM Local Government Excellence Awards.

The Hamilton Gardens entry won the Innovation in Council-Community Relations category and was also named Supreme Award winner in Wellington last night, taking the top prize against strong competition from a record number of entries.

"It’s fantastic to win this award,” Mayor Julie Hardaker says. “This Supreme Award is about the whole journey of the gardens from rubbish dump to the best garden in the world.  It's a reinforcement that everything about Hamilton Gardens - from its visionary beginnings to the development project underway now - and how that the project is being managed and funded, to the talented staff and the leadership, is exceptional. 

"I want to thank the community for their tremendous support of the gardens and all the funders over many years who have enabled the projects to be done. It's congratulations to Hamilton."

Council Chief Executive Richard Briggs says what the gardens team has achieved in recent years has been amazing. 

“They have really helped put Hamilton on the international map and created what is a fantastic destination for tourists and locals alike.”

Today the Hamilton Gardens is a must see visitor destination and internationally significant tourist destination in New Zealand, with more than a million visitors a year.  

Over the last 35 years, an old landfill site has transformed into the ‘International Garden of the Year 2014’. It’s predicted to bring a direct economic benefit to Hamilton’s economy of $14.5 million per year within three years - $5.6 million more than today. 



A total of $5.76m has been raised through rates, external sponsorships, grants and donations, including a heartfelt $20,000 from the Screech family in memory of their mother, Shirley. 

Tribute to Gardens' benefactor: by Bernice and Jenny Screech
We grew up in a beautiful garden. Our flower-loving mother, Shirley, made sure of that. There was such peace and promise in her garden on a warm spring Hamilton morning before the rest of the world was awake. As Hamilton Gardens grew it became our other garden. It was a place of enchantment. In moments we could step from English flowers to tranquil Japanese waters or the bright colours of the Indian Char Bagh and then to the formal gardens  of Italian Renaissance. These paths held mystery and intrigue for Shirley’s granddaughters too. Our mother took them often to this happy place where each season brought new pleasure. New gardens were always exciting but none more so than the Katherine Mansfield Garden we are now donating to. The creativity and passion behind the scenes is uplifting. The Hamilton Gardens might be the jewel in the city’s crown, but so are its creators. We are looking forward to visiting this new garden when finished.



Special mention needs to be made of the role that the Friends of Hamilton Gardens are playing in this big project led by their chairperson Marilyn Yeoman. The Friends particular focus is on supporting the development of the Mansfield Garden. They're already well advanced in raising 

$100,000 for the Lily Pond Lawn. Recently they held an evening of lectures on Katherine Mansfield and organised the very successful Mansfield Garden Party - primarily to raise public awareness about the project. They have also recently decided to raise another $50,000 for the sculptural elements on the Mansfield Garden tennis court. This includes features described in her story 'The Garden Party'; a marquee, and tables full of food and drink (that must survive for many years in all weathers). Along with all of that, they are sponsoring a bronze scarecrow for the Kitchen Garden that is being imported from England which we hope it will be here in time to unveil at the Friends' annual Scarecrow Festival in late October.


"The potential for this place is so exciting. I think this is the best kept secret in New Zealand." Sir Hill

Hamilton Gardens Development Trust is delighted to announce that Sir Michael Hill has accepted the role as the Trust’s second Patron. Sir Miles Warren is still the Trust's Founding Patron. Sir Michael Hill is an iconic New Zealander. He is also a very keen gardener and has developed the Hills Golf Club, which includes their private residence, into a fabulous landscaped estate spread over more than 400 acres. 

Michael Hill to champion Hamilton Gardens Waikato Times
Sir Michael Hill announced as patron Media release