Travel back 4000 years to the time of pyramids and pharaohs at Hamilton Garden’s Ancient Egyptian Garden.

Take shelter from the sweltering Egyptian sun and gaze upon hieroglyphics in a Middle Kingdom temple garden dedicated to ensuring the soul’s safe passage through the underworld.

Enter the sacred garden of an Egyptian Temple - the first recreation of this garden type since they disappeared beneath the desert sands. Gaze on hieroglyphics that tell stories of kings and gods. Sit in the shade of the pergola among the garden’s sacred plants. Imagine you have come to the temple to ensure the gods will grant your soul safe passage through the underworld into the promise of the afterlife. This is a garden of symbols and deeper meanings, and the oldest in our garden story.



Free entry

Best viewed: all seasons

9.00am - 5.00pm, last entry 4.30pm

Popular with kids

Easily accessible

Colourful blooms

Highlights Tour available

Audio Guide available

Background of the Ancient Egyptian Garden

Hamilton Gardens’ story of civilisations and gardens begins in Ancient Egypt. Our Ancient Egyptian Garden is believed to be the first recreation of this sacred garden type.

Enter the world of ancient Egypt. Stroll back in time. Take shelter from the sweltering sun beneath the vines on the pergola. Gaze upon the hieroglyphics and the stars on the temple’s portico ceiling. Sit awhile among the sacred plants. Imagine you have come to ensure your soul will have safe passage through the dangers of the underworld into the promises of the afterlife. For ancient Egyptians, life on Earth was a preparation for the dangerous journey into the afterlife. 

Archaeologists have identified at least a hundred plants that were regularly used in temple gardens. Most of these can be grown in New Zealand. Temple gardens were often also a home to sacred animals, including baboons. Our temple garden is based on a typical temple from the Middle Kingdom period (2040 BCE to 1782 BCE).

How have the elements of the gardens been recreated?

Temples, high walls, and pergolas
Archaeologists know a lot about what these ancient gardens looked like. Temple compounds all shared a similar, highly symbolic design. They were enclosed by high walls. The gardens featured a central, rectangular pool, with pergolas covered in grapevines, and rows of trees often linked with irrigation channels.

Each element of the temple court was symbolic. The massive walls on each side of the entrance reflected the two mountains on the horizon between which the sun would rise each day, symbolising rebirth. The garden represented the land of Egypt, celebrating the annual harvest and flooding of the Nile. At the far end of the garden was the temple itself, with its sacred inner sanctum off-limits to all but the highest priests.

The pillars of the temple and pergola are stylised forms of the papyrus plant, representing the stems that hold up the blue sky. The portico has a ceiling painted to represent the heavens. The two false doors to the side of the temple allowed an exit point for the spirits.

What were Egyptian temples and their gardens used for?

Temples and their gardens were a meeting place between heaven, Earth, and the underworld. It was here that priests performed the rituals that kept the universe in balance and the forces of chaos at bay. Temple gardens produced the floral, vegetable, and fruit offerings for these sacred rituals. They grew the plants used in perfumes for anointing statues to the gods and garlands of flowers for religious processions.

Visit the Ancient Egyptian Garden, the meeting place between heaven, Earth, and the underworld. 

Thanks to our partners

Proud supporters of the Ancient Egyptian Garden

  • Friends of Hamilton Gardens
  • Jill Christiansen
  • Gardenia Club – Leopard couches
  • John and Glenice Gallagher Foundation
  • Margaret Woolford
  • The Fraser Family
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