Story: Public gardens

Page 3. Municipal public gardens

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Smaller towns also made provision for public gardens.

Government Gardens, Rotorua

Government Gardens were developed in the 1890s to beautify scrub-covered ground surrounding a sanatorium hospital and thermal baths. During the first decades of the 20th century, sports fields, lakes and formal gardens were created, and the site took on the appearance of an Edwardian spa.

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth

Unlike most of New Zealand’s older parks and gardens, which are fashioned on overseas gardening styles, Pukekura Park emphasises New Zealand’s bush environment. In the 1870s it was a treeless valley, covered in gorse and fern. Its transformation into a public park began in 1876 with the planting of an oak, a Norfolk pine, a pūriri and a radiata pine. It has developed into New Zealand’s finest informal garden, with native and exotic plantings blending well. The park also includes artificial lakes, a large fernery, and a collection of Taranaki-bred hybrids.

Ladies only

The stream in Pukekura Park was dammed to form a lake, which was used for swimming. In 1886 the park board decreed that only women and girls could swim between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Instead of banning men outright, a red flag was hoisted as a signal to men that their presence was unwelcome as ladies were in an exposed state.

Victoria Esplanade, Palmerston North

Situated alongside the western banks of the Manawatū River, Victoria Esplanade comprises 19 hectares of planted gardens and native bush. It began to be developed in 1897. A major feature is the Dugald McKenzie Rose Garden, one of the world’s finest rose gardens according to the World Federation of Rose Societies. It is the site of New Zealand’s rose trial grounds, used to assess the suitability of rose varieties for New Zealand conditions and test new cultivars.

Queens Park, Invercargill

Located in New Zealand’s southernmost city, Queens Park is one of the largest municipal parks in New Zealand. Originally set aside as a native bush reserve in 1857, the former swamp forest was cleared, sown to pasture and leased for grazing. It was not until 1911 that the area began to be developed as a public park and gardens. The Southland Museum and Art Gallery are within its 80 hectares, and it features a rhododendron dell, subantarctic garden, formal rose garden, Japanese garden and sports grounds.

How to cite this page:

Maggy Wassilieff, 'Public gardens - Municipal public gardens', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 October 2021)

Story by Maggy Wassilieff, published 24 Nov 2008