Proposed layout changes

We’re proposing changes to the layout of the Hamilton Gardens site. We need to tackle traffic flow issues, reduce congestion on busy days and make it easier to safely access Hamilton Gardens, whatever your mode of transport.

We have ambitious plans for the long-term development of our much-loved Gardens and that includes sorting out these practical problems. Last year we proposed one solution when we asked for feedback on the draft Hamilton Gardens Management Plan. The plan sets out our vision for the Gardens. The community supported the vision but wanted us to rethink a proposal to shift the main carpark to the site of the Rhododendron Lawn.

We listened, and we have a new concept. Now we want to know what you think – have we got it right?

Have your say on the new concept here

Have your say online at Hamilton.govt.nz/haveyoursay or fill in a form from our Information Centre, Hamilton libraries or Hamilton City Council’s central city offices. Public consultation is open until 9 August 2020.

Open day

We’re holding community open days on the proposed layout at the Hamilton Gardens Information Centre so come along if you would like to know more.

  • Sunday 19 July from 10am to 4pm
  • Sunday 2 August from 12pm to 2pm

New concept

The new concept leaves the Rhododendron Lawn intact. A new through road connects the two main entrances to improve traffic flow and parking is concentrated in the northern part of the site. There’s better and safer access by bike, foot and bus and new features such as a potential treetop walk and more cycleways. The new internal road runs behind the Camellia Lawn.

This map shows the proposed upper option for Hamilton Gardens, which creates a streamlined traffic flow and retains the Rhododendron Lawn. Want a closer look? Tap the image to open a large 15MB version in a new window.

Proposed Upper Option - Hamilton Gardens

Features and benefits of the new concept

  • The Rhododendron Lawn remains and the white gum tree continues to be a key feature of the lawn.
  • A carpark is created at the top of the site and the carpark beside the rose garden is extended.
  • A proposed treetop walk adds a spectacular new entry point.
  • New shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The Little Bull bronze sculpture is retained.
  • The main carpark is removed, freeing riverfront land for future gardens.
  • A new through road creates two-way traffic flow through the Gardens and relieves congestion.
  • Visitor access to the Victorian Flower Garden glasshouses is eventually removed due to their condition and proximity to the new road and to enable Hamilton Gardens to turn towards the river.

This illustration shows what the proposed treetop walk might look like, connecting the carpark to the main entrance.

Proposed Treetop Walk - Hamilton Gardens

Original concept

In the original concept the through road was lower down and led to a new carpark on the site of the Rhododendron Lawn. Want a closer look? Tap the image to open a large 15MB version in a new window.

Original Concept - Hamilton Gardens

Features and benefits of the original concept

  • The main carpark is relocated to the Rhododendron Lawn, closer to the main entrance to provide more direct access.
  • The white gum tree remains as a key feature of the Gardens.
  • A new Governor’s Green lawn replicates the Rhododendron Lawn.
  • The Little Bull bronze sculpture is retained.
  • Riverfront land freed up for future gardens.
  • A new through road creates two-way traffic flow through the Gardens and relieves congestion. 

Have your say

We want to know if our community supports the new concept. Have your say online by 9 August 2020 at Hamilton.govt.nz/haveyoursay or fill in a form from the Gardens Information Centre, Hamilton libraries or Hamilton City Council’s central city offices.

Frequently asked questions

Do the changes mean there'll be more carparks at Hamilton Gardens?

There will not be a huge increase in carparks – our focus is on developing better and safer access by bike, foot and bus, rather than accommodating private vehicles. Adding a through road with access to the Cobham Dr SH1 roundabout from all carparking areas will relieve the congestion that occurs on peak days due to the current bottlenecked layout.

At present there are 453 car parks in total, which will increase to 502 under the new proposed concept. That's about 50 more parking spaces for private vehicles plus two more bus parks. There is also the option on peak days to provide extra parking on the grass area alongside the proposed lower carpark extension. (The original concept, which utilised the Rhododendron Lawn area for carparking, would create about 80 more spaces plus three more bus parks.)

What about the public glasshouses?

The glasshouses are included in our Victorian Flower Garden, alongside Cobham Dr, and are managed by the Hamilton City Council Nursery. They are nearing the end of their useful life as public facilities and will become isolated by the proposed new roading layout.

New display houses are proposed for the lower portion of Hamilton Gardens where they’re likely to receive more use. The first of these is in the Pasifika Garden, which is already under construction.

The Council has proposed closing the existing glasshouses from next year as a cost saving. Hamiltonians were asked for their views on this during consultation on the Back on Track COVID-19 Response budget (22 June to 10 July). The Council will consider that feedback when confirming the 2020/21 budget.

The Hamilton Gardens consultation is about the new layout concept and the plan to keep the Rhododendron Lawn.

Why is the Council re-consulting on the Hamilton Gardens layout?

The draft Hamilton Gardens Management Plan produced in 2019 was generally well received except for a proposal to move the carpark to the Rhododendron Lawn. We have a new concept that retains the Rhododendron Lawn and we want to make sure the community is happy with it.

What is being proposed now?

The new layout will locate carparking in a different area, preserving the Rhododendron Lawn. This will also affect the roading, cycleway and path alignments. The rest of the original plan was well received, and this remains the same.

Why didn’t the Council go with this option in the first place?

All the proposed options have had their advantages and compromises. The original layout had a shorter distance to walk to the entrance, more room for overflow grass parking, and safer night-time use. The new proposal has appealing features that weren’t included in the original layout, such as the new cycleways and treetop walk, and ensures the Rhododendron Lawn remains.

What happens next?

Once consultation is over, the Community Committee will receive a report on the submissions. The draft management plan will be updated to reflect submissions made during this and last year’s consultation. The Committee will then deliberate on that updated plan. Read more about the Hamilton Gardens Management Plan (note that the plan still features the original concept).

When will the work be done and how long will it take?

That will depend on decisions made in the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan, which involves a public consultation process. The Hamilton Gardens Management Plan determines what happens while decisions made during the Long-Term Plan process determine when it happens. Development of the Gardens, including the changes to carparking and traffic flow in the proposed layout, is a long-term project.

What if I like bits of the new concept and bits of the old concept?

We need to work within the realities of our location on a hill between a river and a state highway, situated over a former dump, all of which limit our options. We considered the site overall, including which parts are best suited for new gardens proposed for the future. After investigating multiple layouts, we are confident we have landed on the right one.

Both the old and new layout concepts enable us to free up riverfront land, currently used for parking, for more appropriate use such as for new themed gardens and to better connect Hamilton Gardens with the Waikato River.

I like the Gardens the way they are – why change things?

Hamilton Gardens has become a victim of its own success. Over the last six years visitation has increased by 82% and we are now one of the top two most visited attractions in the Waikato. The number of ‘peak days’ (when the site is being used beyond its capacity) increases every year.

One unpleasant aspect of that growth is traffic movement and parking. On peak days it’s difficult to access any available parking. It can take over an hour to drive in or out due to queued vehicles and, without traffic management in place, Cobham Dr/State Highway 1 can become blocked up for hours and dangerous for road users. The new layout will improve traffic flow while also creating space for garden development.

As well as these proposed changes, we’re also managing the size of events at peak times, promoting visits at off-peak times, and encouraging alternative travel to the Gardens by bike, scooter, boat, bus or on foot.

Will the changes disrupt my experience of the Gardens?

Work is likely to be done in stages over the winter months so it should cause minimal disruption.