Reflections on the pond at Rangiatea garden in Canterbury

New Zealand Spring Gardens

Gardens are at their glorious best in spring. Everything is lush and full of promise – a profusion of blossoms, flowers and greenery so fresh you can smell it.

Our spring garden tours feature a selection of New Zealand’s best gardens where the owners take enormous pride in their gardens and are keen to share their knowledge.

Take time to interact with like-minded garden lovers and get inspired by some truly passionate growers. Growers that are willing to share their experiences and their gardens. You’ll get to grips with the way decisions about design, composition, plant selection, placement and nurturing work together to enhance the garden landscape. 

Taranaki Spring Gardens

Cairnhill, near Stratford

Colin and June Lees’ Cairnhill is a colourful garden is framed by mature rhododendrons, vibernum, camellias, under a canopy of deciduous trees.

An impressive range of over forty varieties of hosta thrive in their shade. Mixed borders of heuchera, iris and peonies make for make a stunning display. Additional structure is provided by hedging and trellises of rose and clematis varieties.

The thoughtful plantings capture views of Mt Taranaki beautifully.  Cairnhill is a five star garden of national significance.

Cross Hills, Kimbolton

Cross Hills has been in the Wilson family for about 80 years. It started as a sheep and cattle farm, and the area around the homestead has been gradually developed into a seven hectare garden.

Cross Hills is set at an altitude of 540 metres and has a free-draining soil and a reliable rainfall. Retaining walls, made with stones from the Ruahine Ranges, and a camellia maze add structure around the hillside garden.

The garden has a fine range of rhododendrons and azaleas, mature deciduous trees and conifers. Early rhododendrons and azaleas are a feature in springtime; not to mention camellias, cherries, magnolias, trilliums, tree paeonies, kalmias, pieris and candelabra primulas.

Puketarata Garden, Hawera

Ken and Jennifer Horner have developed this stunning one hectare hillside garden over 35 years. It frames views of Mount Taranaki and the surrounding area so carefully they appear to be part of the garden.

Laid out in a series of garden rooms, the plantings focus on textures and colours of green, bronze and silver provided by native and exotic specimen trees. The garden is blessed with friable, free-draining volcanic loam, a temperate climate, and regular rainfall.

There is an orchard, berry house, vegetable and herb gardens area and a haha to enhance the views. Puketarata Garden is a six star garden of national significance.

Discover Taranaki’s best rhododendron gardens

Our Taranaki Rhododendron Gardens tour is always a favourite, visiting the best Rhododendron gardens in the central North Island, with stays in New Plymouth, Whanganui and Taupo. See the full tour itinerary, inclusions, dates and photos here.

Canterbury Spring Gardens

Akaunui Homestead, Ashburton

Laid out over 110 years ago, Akaunui Homestead garden has been lovingly nurtured by Di and Ian Mackenzie.

Akaunui Homestead is complimented by over 10 hectares of wonderfully mature gardens. Impressive on a really large scale, the garden offers such diversity that you will return home inspired.

Magnificent woodlands, rhododendrons, lawns, and vegetable, formal rose, and more rambling gardens work together in total harmony with the natural landscape. Ponds and streams create a microclimate that enables a wide plant range to be displayed. We stop for lunch here, so you just know you will be eating Di’s fresh vegetables.

Flaxmere Garden, near Hawarden

Flaxmere Garden, created by Penny Zino for over fifty years, is nearly three hectares and is based on ancient terraced river beds.

Designed to frame and enhance Southern Alp vistas, there is a strong sense of drama. Secluded and romantic, the garden really pays tribute to the natural environment.

Spring is a very special season in Penny’s garden. There are loads of daffodils and flowering cherry trees, of course, plus primula candelabra, rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips, bluebells, and clematis. Flaxmere’s status as a Garden of International Significance with six stars is highly deserved.

Fishermans Bay, Banks Peninsula

The Pacific Ocean provides the backdrop to Richard and Jill Simpson’s magnificent garden at Fishermans Bay. At times Banks Peninsula gets hammered by wind and weather so gardening is a challenge.

Richard and Jill have developed this two hectare garden into a safe, peaceful haven using native and exotic plant varieties.

You can expect flower borders, herbs, ferns, sheltered valleys and exposed rock gardens as well as two valleys of regenerating protected native bush. In addition, Richard and Jill have collected 150 hebe species and cultivars, so there is a surprise down every garden path.

Explore Canterbury’s best spring gardens

Our Canterbury Springtime Gardens tour in late October visits all of these wonderful spots, as well as a visit to the Hanmer Springs Fete. See the full tour itinerary, inclusions, trip dates and photos here.

Central North Island spring gardens

The idyllic countryside of the Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Manawatu is home to some of our favourite gardens in New Zealand. Perhaps there are a few hidden gems that you haven’t even heard of but will wonder why you haven’t!

Gwavas Garden & Homestead, Hawke’s Bay 

A beautiful rural Hawke’s Bay property of 20 hectares, now a country garden with homestead accommodation, back in the mid 19th century Gwavas was one of the most important sheep and cattle stations in Hawke’s Bay. 

The name “Gwavas” is associated with the Carylon family who settled here from Cornwall in 1858. Your host today, Phyllida (and husband Stuart) is a direct descendant of the first settlers. 

With camelias and magnolias flowering in August followed by rhododendrons and azaleas in September, spring is without doubt the best time to visit. Gwavas is also home to 300 acres of protected native bush, which provides a home to kereru and bellbirds, who often visit the garden too of course. 

Gwavas homestead is a category 1 Historic Places listed buiding and the garden itself has received a “Distinguished for Merit” award from the International Dendrology Society. 

Greenhaugh Gardens, Manawatu 

Designated a 6-star Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, Greenhaugh Gardens just out of Palmerston North is the life’s work of Lynne Atkins. 

The five acres of expansive gardens feature mature trees while nearer the 1874 homestead you’ll find roses, perennials and self-seeding annuals. A pergola clad with wisteria, rambling roses and clematis leads through to the more informal Mediterranean water and woodland gardens. 

Spring in Greenhaugh is heralded by a profusion of daffodils, many of which were planted in the 1940s, followed by an explosion of roses, clematis and bearded iris. 

The “Giraffe House” is the perfect place for lunch and in springtime you may even get to feed a baby lamb!

Te Parae Homestead & Brancepeth Garden, Wairarapa 

Te Parae is a stately Wairarapa country home set it sprawling gardens featuring 100 year old oaks, weeping elms, taxodium and Wellingtonia and Liquid Amber Trees. A 10 acre lake completes the picturesque landscape. 

The homestead was built by the Williams family in 1905, but the land has been in the family since 1857, Te Parae has played an important part in Wairarapa’s history. Your host Angela proudly continues the traditions of horse breeding, gardening and hosting events. 

Te Parae was originally part of Brancepeth Station, right next door, which is another popular spot for us on our tours too. Brancepeth once had 300 staff, stables, library, school and a store which are now NZ Historic Places Trust rated buildings. 

Guests always tell us they love the country hospitality and collection of local history at both these iconic Wairarapa gardens. 

Visit the Central North Island’s best spring gardens

These North Island gardens are all included in our Country Roads & Cross Hills Gardens Fair 7 day tour, as is of course the most popular country fair in the North Island at Cross Hills garden in the Manawatu.

Otago Spring Gardens

Clachanburn Gardens, Patearoa

Jane Falconer has developed this lush, abundant 1 ½ hectare garden over a 35 year period into a jigsaw of colour and texture. It’s a rambling country garden with a wide range of shrubs and perennials among a variety of mature trees.

The Otago climate can be harsh and the garden is at a higher altitude than most, but Jane has used plants that grow well here. Spring at Clachanburn features bulbs and blossoms, as well as leaf colours and textures.

Pipfruit, stonefruit and a nut orchard add more diversity to the spring attractions.

Chantecler Gardens, Queenstown

Mike and Maureen Henry have developed this 4.8 hectare Queenstown garden over 18 years. The garden is blessed with a rich base of wind-blown silt and great drainage.

Sixty year old trees frame views of Remarkables, and the garden is enriched with wetlands and structures. The landscape has been influenced by a range of European and local styles, so the diversity is impressive. 

In spring there’s a lot of colour with huge drifts of bulbs and flowering rhododendrons and azaleas.

Experience Otago’s best spring gardens

If a trip to the far south sounds like you, take a look at our Otago Farmhouse Gardens tour, departing November each year. As well as the best of Otago’s gardens, you’ll love all the highlights of Queenstown and Central Otago and the Victorian Fete in Oamaru. Find See the full tour itinerary, inclusions, dates and photos here.

Visit New Zealand’s best spring gardens with MoaTours

What we love most of all about spring is that it’s the start of our small group touring season, September and October are the months we emerge from our winter hibernation and get back to what we love doing best.

Find out more about our popular spring garden tours

Country Roads & Cross Hills Gardens Fair 7 day tour

Canterbury Springtime Gardens 7 day tour

Otago Farmhouse Gardens 7 day tour

Taranaki Rhododendron Gardens 6 day tour

We look forward to seeing many of our regular travellers again and welcome our first time guests too. Please get in touch with one of our friendly team if you have any questions about our spring garden tours.

Tours You'll Love

Taranaki Rhododendron Gardens 6 Day Tour

See Taranaki’s best rhododendron gardens in bloom, visit Cross Hills Garden in Kimbolton and stay in Whanganui and Taupo.

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