Classic Homes & Gardens of Otago
The South Island’s Otago region bursts into life in spring with the aroma of blooming bulbs and perennials filling the air. The bright hues of blossoms and flowers are a stunning contrast to the region’s rolling, bronze-coloured hills, expansive blue skies and dark, craggy peaks sprinkled with snow.
Spend time exploring the beauty of Otago’s top gardens, historic homesteads and farms with our Otago Farmhouse Gardens Tour where you'll meet the gardeners and farmers responsible for carving out stunning oases in Otago's extreme conditions.
Here are just some of the best gardens and historic homesteads.
Chantecler Gardens - Queenstown
What started out as a hobby for Mike and Maureen Henry has turned into a sensational garden. Chantecler, is a 16 hectare/40 acre property, which they purchased in 2003 as a holiday home, features 4.8 hectares/12 acres of ever-improving gardens centred in the stunning, mountain-fringed area between Queenstown and Arrowtown.
Since retiring from their busy Auckland careers and moving permanently to Chantecler, the couple has carefully and cleverly developed the grounds into an array of internationally themed gardens including the English Garden, Tuscan Garden, Oriental Garden, French Garden and New Zealand Native Garden.
With sculptures, water features, an orchard, kitchen garden and bridges nestled among the stunning themed areas, Chantecler promises surprises at every turn, whatever the season.
Late spring and early summer bring a profusion of colour and scent to the sprawling grounds of Chantecler, as the numerous varieties of bulbs burst into flower, joining the hundreds of rhododendrons, azaleas, peonies and camellias.
There are abundant roses in full bloom in the Formal Garden and an aromatic lavender field in the French Garden. Mature trees are another feature with redwood, oak, maple, willow and other exotic varieties planted by the original landowners who farmed here decades ago.
Allow yourself at least an hour to explore the expanse, beauty and variety of Chantecler.
How to get to Chantecler Gardens
A 10 minute drive from central Queenstown or a five minute drive from Queenstown Airport, Chantecler is located at 14 Lower Shotover Road. After crossing the Shotover River on SH6, turn left at the first roundabout onto Lower Shotover Road. 100 metres along the road, at number 14, turn right into the schist stone entranceway of Chantecler and follow the driveway.
Scroll through pictures below of our recent visits to Chantecler
Clachanburn Garden - Maniototo Valley
A 40-year labour of love for owner Jane Falconer, Clachanburn garden in the Maniototo region of the South Island is a thriving preserve of lush plant life despite the harsh conditions.
Located 487 metres/1600 feet above sea level with just 30-35 centimetres/12-14 inches of annual rainfall and reaching temperatures well below freezing in winter, Clachanburn is high, dry and oh so cold. But thanks to Jane’s dedication, come spring, the 4.5 acre/1.8 hectare garden throws off its wintery shroud and blooms to life with irises, daffodils and cherry blossoms.
Perennials and carefully selected roses join the multi-hued display in summers that can reach 40 degrees Celsius/104 degrees Farenheit. The garden features paved and mown walkways, ponds, sculptures and carefully maintained shrub borders.
In addition to Jane’s immaculate attention to detail in the garden, her skills in the kitchen are appreciated by visitors, with Devonshire Teas available by arrangement, and a selection of homemade preserves from her abundant vegetable garden and orchard for sale in the on-site shop.
On your visit with MoaTours you’ll get a real treat as Jane welcomes our group for a special lunch at Clachanburn Station.
How to get to Clachanburn Garden
Clachanburn is well and truly off the main road, located at 316 Puketoi Runs Rd in the Maniototo region of the South Island. The closest town is Ranfurly (30 minutes’ drive). From here, follow Ranfurly-Patearoa Road south, travelling through the settlement of Patearoa. Clachanburn is signposted from Patearoa.
Scroll through some pictures from recent visits to Clachanburn Gardens below
Brookfield House & Garden - Oamaru
Expect the unexpected on a visit to Jennifer Rendell’s beautifully restored historic home, Brookfield, near Oamaru. Registered as a Category 2 Historic Place and constructed in the 1880s, Brookfield was once home to Oamaru’s first mayor and is appropriately grand in design.
Jennifer purchased the home and its surrounding 5.3 hectare/13 acre estate in the early 2000s and set about restoring the beautifully detailed Oamaru stone exterior, modernising the interior and improving the rambling grounds. The result is a delight for visitors.
The ornate exterior, designed by local architectural firm Forrester and Lemon who were responsible for many of Oamaru’s Victorian buildings, is superbly presented. Meanwhile, Jennifer’s quirky nature is abundantly present, with unexpected and unusual sculptures, artworks and installations making frequent appearances both inside and out.
The expansive gardens include a wide range of exotic and native plantings alongside many of the property’s original trees. History aficionados and garden lovers will appreciate the thorough tour of the property provided by Jennifer on our MoaTours visit.
How to get to Brookfield House and Garden
Brookfield House and Garden is located at 62 Weston Road, a short drive from the township of Oamaru. Find and follow State Highway 1 (Oamaru’s main thoroughfare) south. Turn right onto Cross Street then left onto Chelmer Street. Continue on this road (which will become Saleyards Road) for approximately 2 kilometres/1.2 miles, until you meet the intersection with Weston Road. Turn right onto Weston Road. You’ll find Brookfield house approximately 750 metres/0.4 miles along on your left at number 62.
Scroll through recent pictures of our visits to Brookfield House below, with super host Jennifer
The Gorge - Poolburn
A visit to Rayleen McNally’s private garden, deep in the Ida Valley, is a real treat. Arranged artfully around Rayleen’s historic stone house, The Gorge is a magnificent array of plants collected and maintained by Rayleen over many years.
Noted for her extensive collection of perennials, Rayleen has planted the garden to provide an endless display of colour from spring through to autumn. Her abundant old-fashioned roses, brilliant bulbs and pretty perennials stand out alongside hedges of lavender and buxus, all interspersed with artfully arranged historic farming implements, mature trees and a small stream.
Visitors rave about the idyllic views here, across the sprawling sheep and beef farm which has been in the McNally family for five generations, to the rolling hills and distant mountain ranges of Otago. Only accessible by prior arrangement, this stop-off on our Otago Farmhouse Gardens Tour is a real hidden gem.
How to get to The Gorge
The Gorge is a private garden located near Poolburn in the Ida Valley and Rayleen doesn't accept visits from the public without prior arrangement. This is a great reason to join one of our tours as Rayleen is our friend and MoaTours groups are always welcome.
Scroll through pictures from recent visits to Rayleen McNally's garden in Poolburn below
There's more to Otago than just gardens
Gardeners love visiting the High Country gardens of Otago, especially if you're from the North Island or Australia, this is a unique and spectacular countryside. But there's a lot more to see and do all over Otago than the gardens, as guests on our Otago Farmhouse Gardens tour always discover.
Here's a collection of images from recent trips, including fun activities and events like the Victorian Fete in Oamaru, the Blue Lake at St Bathans, the Moeraki Boulders, Arrowtown and of course the spectacular views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
How to get around Otago's Classic Homes & Gardens
Finding some of the remote gardens of Otago is tricky enough, let alone organising transport to each and working out an itinerary that allows you to visit the top gardens and destinations.
Let us turn that hassle into enjoyment; jump onto our next Otago Farmhouse Gardens Tour to experience all of the gardens above and so much more on our seven-day small group, guided tour with all the friendly, personal service and little extras you could ask for.