With summer well and truly here, the Garden City is in full bloom. Christchurch is a city with a green heart – Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens cover over 164 hectares of the central city – and on a sunny day there are few nicer places to be.
We’ve put together a list of family friendly gardens to visit if you want to kick back and literally smell the roses.
Botanic Gardens, Central Christchurch
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is one of the city’s gems and just one of the reasons it has the nickname ‘The Garden City’. Spread over nearly 30 hectares with the Avon River snaking through it’s grounds, the Botanic Gardens has an extensive native collection, rose garden and the magnificent Cunningham House hothouse for exotics. The gardens are easy to get around with lots of sealed pathways and wheelchair hire is also available. If you want to get off your feet, there’s also the solar powered electric Caterpillar tour, with a narrated overview of the gardens’ rich history and botanical information. The Ilex Cafe is also the perfect place to stop for refreshments.
Free entry, Open 7am-6.30pm.
Mona Vale, Fendalton, Christchurch
On the fringe of the city centre in the suburb of Fendalton, five hectares of rolling lawns and gardens surround the historic heritage homestead of Mona Vale. Built in 1899 and sadly closed at present due to earthquake repairs, the house evokes the grandeur of ‘the belle epoque’ at the turn of the 20th century. Its magnificent gardens are still open however, with a superb collection of rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias as well as an extensive rose garden, shade house and greenhouses. Through the summer months punts also are available on the Avon.
Now owned and maintained by the City Council, Mona Vale is a much loved city landmark.
Free Entry, Open 7am until dusk (9pm in Summer, 5pm Winter).
Deans Bush, 16 Kahu Road
Located in Riccarton, Deans Bush, also known as Riccarton Bush, is the last remnant of native bush left in the city. Riccarton House was the former homestead of the Deans family and their original cottage remains on site as a historic reminder of living conditions for the early settler families in the area. The bush area itself features paths and boardwalks that taken you through towering natives that create a peaceful oasis just a few hundred metres from the city's busiest shopping mall, Westfield. On weekends, Riccarton House grounds are home to farmers and artisan markets, but the bush is open year round, with no charge for visitors.
The Giant's House, Akaroa
An hour out of Christchurch overlooking the stunning Akaroa Harbour stands a truly unique house and garden – the Giant’s House. Created by artist Josie Martin it’s home to original artwork, and amazing terraced gardens with sculptures and mosaics. It’s a great place to explore and Josie’s incredible creative vision has created a garden that’s both original and playful and one that appeals to all ages.
Open 12-4pm Summer, 2-4pm winter. Family concession $45-55.
Homebush, near Darfield
The historic Homebush homestead on the Canterbury Plains was first established in the early years of European settlement by the Deans family. Sadly its grand house brought to the ground in the September 2010 earthquake. A new homestead has been rebuilt which overlooks the heritage gardens that date back to the 1850’s. The eight acre gardens feature sweeping lawns, orchards, rose gardens and exotic trees planted by the early settlers. The historic site also has a museum on site and a collection of heritage farm buildings which are highlighted on the garden tour. Being a working farm, demonstrations of shearing and working farm dogs are also available by prior arrangement.
Viewing by appointment only, Entry $10. Children are welcome but must be supervised.
Flaxmere, near Hawarden, North Canterbury
Flaxmere Garden has been made a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Garden Trust, and it’s amazing to think that only 45 years ago its grounds were a sheep farm. In the shadow of the Southern Alps, the garden is populated with a mixture of natives, roses and rhododenrons and features ponds and rustic bridges. It’s a garden that changes with the seasons, so is great to visit at all times of the year.
Viewing by appointment only. Entry $15, children under 12 Free. Children welcome but must be supervised.
Frensham Gardens, Tai Tapu, Christchurch
Like Flaxmere and Broadfield Estates, Frensham Gardens have been developed relatively recently compared to some of the other gardens on the list, but their display of trees, formal gardens and ponds are an oasis on the outskirts of Christchurch city. Garden tours are available and there are also wheelchairs available for those with limited mobility.
Viewing by appointment Only. Entry $10 per person. Children welcome.
This 20 year old garden of Broadfield Estates is spread over just 3.5 hectares, but includes some fantastic native trees and exotic plants. Unusual for the South Island, the garden has more than 100 kauri and other trees, shrubs, ferns and climbers usually found in a kauri forest. The gardens also feature an impressive collection of azaleas, rhodos, lilies and perenials.
Open Wed and Sat 8-4.30pm, other times by appointment. Entry $15, children free. Dogs are also welcome.