If you are looking to enjoy some peaceful moments in delightful settings, let us recommend the best gardens to visit in Auckland. Auckland is home to a collection of stunning public gardens, making it very easy to rediscover nature when you’re stuck in an otherwise very urban environment.
Public gardens offer a welcome tranquil escape for those looking for a well-needed break. Spend a warm day blissfully admiring beautiful flowers or having your mind blown by some crazy plants (both native and exotic!).
While spring and summer are arguably the ideal time to wander around all of these pretty Auckland gardens, all have year-round appeal – and are exceptionally serene on a crisp, blue-sky winter day.
From manicured greenery to blossoming flower gardens, and botanical gardens to Victorian conservatories, we’ve got them all. Some are private and have admission fees, but all are open to the public – even if prior arrangement is required. Others are free and open year-round to the public.
These are the best gardens in Auckland. They’re all different and have something distinctive to offer, so I suggest visiting them all.
102 Hill Road, The Gardens
Open daily, free entry
First up are the most famous gardens in Auckland, the Botanic Gardens located in Manurewa. Positioned on around 64 hectares of land, including 10 hectares of native forest, the park was only open to the public in 1982, making it a very young Botanic garden by world standards.
Still, there are over 10,000 plants from around the world here across more than 20 zones, all of which are free to visit. The Auckland Botanic Gardens tries to showcase the unique native flora of New Zealand, over 80% of which is found nowhere else in the world. The threatened Natives, Harakeke collection, and Native Plant ID trail should not be missed for those who have an interest in botany.
There is always something new to see and do here, including innovative exhibits, gardening and garden maintenance workshops, and family events. Not to mention the architecturally-stunning Huakaiwaka Visitors centre, interesting sculptures by famous NZ artists, and cute Café Miko.
A delightful place to wander with a distinctive South Pacific flavour.
125 Potts Road, Whitford
Open weekdays, $20 admission
Another of Auckland’s most celebrated gardens, Ayrlies Garden is the “quintessential New Zealand garden” defined by sweeping lawns and informal but thoughtful plantings by ponds and waterways.
Settled in the gently rolling countryside of east Auckland, the garden was formed by Beverley McConnell and her late husband Malcolm, co-founder of construction company McConnell Dowell in 1964. It has since gone on to be recognised as a Garden of International Significance with each area has its own accent but assimilates easily into the next, always conserving the harmony of the whole.
The more recently added large Ayrlies Wetland area links the garden to the Hauraki Gulf. The oasis grew out of a desire to create a larger informal country garden, reminiscent of Beverley’s childhood homestead in Hawkes Bay – and aims to have different plants at their best every week of the year.
A true hidden gem of Auckland, plan to spend at least a few hours at Ayrlies Garden.
Green Lane West, Epsom
Open daily, free entry
Located on the edge of one of the most recognised volcanic cones in Auckland, Cornwall Park Gardens has serious flower power, housing not only permanent collections but also seasonal installations that show off pretty.
They plant more than 25,000 annual plants (split across spring and autumn) and 10,000 bulbs (autumn) in their garden bed along with maintaining perennial and native gardens throughout the park. The wider park has many other appeals including spectacular views from the volcano summit, off-road trails to run along and a working farm complete with around 600 sheep.
There is also a fabulous high tea at the Cornwall Park Eateries to start or end your garden viewing excursion.
Wintergarden Road, Parnell
Open daily, free entry
A gorgeous complex of greenhouses located within the Auckland Domain; the Domain Wintergardens is perfect for those cold days when you want to trick yourself into thinking you’re on a lush, warm Pacific Island.
The Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest park, and was founded in 1843 in the crater of the Pukekawa volcano when European settlers obtained land for their city from the local Ngāti Whātua tribe. The Wintergardens were constructed as part of planned upscaling of the park after WW1, designed to provide a drawcard to the Domain during the winter months, and have been maintained ever since.
The Wintergardens consist of two Victorian-style glasshouses, one non-heated Temperate House and one Tropical House, and a courtyard with pool and neoclassical statues. There is also a lush Fernery located in a hole on the site of an old quarry. The Wintergardens are registered as a Category I historical place and free to visit — even though they only take around 30 minutes to explore.
To make the trip worthwhile, enjoy a coffee at the adjacent Wintergarden Pavilion Cafe, overlooking a small duck pond, or combining it with a visit to the Auckland museum.
24 Omana Avenue, Epsom
Open daily except Tuesday, $12 admission
Discover this unique garden in the heart of Auckland. Eden Garden, created by volunteers, has become an award-winning destination with stunning collections of plants that are planned to ensure visitors experience the beauty of bloom with every visit.
The use of eco-friendly weed management approaches has promoted a healthy ecosystem to cultivate native fauna, geckos, wetas, insects and even butterflies thanks to a butterfly breeding programme.
Most Aucklanders re not even aware of the wonderfully peaceful sanctuary of five and a half acres on the eastern slopes of Mt. Eden, meaning you’ll often have the entire place to yourself.
14 Glenfell Place, Epsom
By appointment only, free entry
The Government House Gardens in Epsom are a remarkable remnant of a time when most New Zealand city estate had sublimely manicured grounds. Many of these historic gardens were either subdivided, entirely reconfigured or simply shifted to grassy parks and today the 12-acre Government House garden is the largest remaining example of these classic city estate landscapes. Not to be confused with the Old Government House in the CBD now utilized by the University of Auckland.
The Government House Gardens in Epsom architecture and range of horticulture are outstanding. As such, it is endorsed as a ‘Garden of National Significance’ and considered a national treasure.
The garden is also notable for having some of the country’s oldest exotic tree specimens and preserving not only lava outcrops but much of the native plant cover than once covered the wider Auckland region. The garden’s architecture and range of horticulture are also outstanding.
As the home of New Zealand’s Governor-General, Government House Auckland is not only to the public except via free appointment. Groups of 6 or more are welcome to arrange their own private tour, otherwise (infrequent) tour dates are listed online.
40 Gillies Avenue, Epsom
Open daily except Monday and Tuesday, free entry to the gardens
There are few better public places in the heart of Newmarket to take a moment’s refuge than the green gardens surrounding the rambling Gothic mansion of Highwic.
Although you’re surrounded by the busy Southern Motorway and the soaring Westfield mall megaplex, the exalted garden nevertheless feels like a world away from the hum and buzz of modern life. Set amidst 1.2 hectares, the Victorian-themed grounds offer high hedges, mature specimen trees, a lush fern house, lawn tennis, croquet courts, as even a romantic ‘Lovers Walk’.
While the gardens are free to enjoy, entrance to the elegant house is $10, though worth it for the insight into the daily life and leisure activities of a large and wealthy colonial family.
1481 Kaipara Coast Highway, Kaukapakapa
Open daily, $15 admission
If you’re tired of flowers, observe some human-made beauty at the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens. The space hosts regular installation to show off various New Zealand sculptors with an annual change over in November. One thing remains constant, however, and that’s the tranquillity and wonderful bird songs that surround you.
The one-kilometre trail takes around 1 hour to walk, and there is also a 30-minute forest conservation trail that takes you on a stroll through native forest, along streams and waterfalls.
338 Coatesville Riverhead Highway, Coatesville
By appointment only, $20 admission
The centrepiece of this large rural garden, set amid the remains of an old orchard in Coatesville, is a Georgian-styled manor. Behind the residence is a formal grass field along with a prestigious cottage garden and popular “kissing gates” which are positioned romantically under falling weeping willows.
Beyond these are an additional 4 hectares of natural walkways, vast grassy fields, spring cherries trees, rhododendrons, camellias and acers along with a formal walled kitchen garden and Victorian styled glasshouse. A background of traditional Northland podocarp forest gives Mincher a unique dimension compared to the other gardens in Auckland.
Water is a central feature with platforms scattered along the northern border to facilitate stream and bush views. As you might expect, there is a great variety of birdlife including Grey Teal, Kingfishers, Tui and Kaka flying about. In total, you’ll need around 2 hours for viewing.
194 Whitmore Road, Tāwharanui
By appointment only, admission payable
Development of the garden began in 2006 around a log cabin nestled into a stand of native bush on the water’s edge, and it has already been classified as a Garden of National Significance.
Various islands – Kawau, Goat, Rabbit – can be viewed from the property and old-growth NZ native bush surrounds the cabin and garden. The planting is predominantly native, with a fusion of other thoughtfully selected plants that suit the location and setting.
The entire garden is laid out in curving, floating shapes reflecting the waves and coastal shapes beyond and is planted to create calm – the colour palette is light, tones of green dominate and it is very relaxing on the eye. Various trails through the native bush and a and petite orchard present a refreshing distinction to the highly maintained garden areas.
This is a special place, very much in harmony with nature, a wonderful place to explore. For the ultimate experience, enjoy the special unpretentious, peaceful and relaxed atmosphere of Omaio with a stay in their log cabin.
85-87 Gladstone Road, Parnell
Open daily, free entry
Get your picnic on and photobomb some wedding parties at this stunning Rose park, on the edge of historic Parnell and Judges Bay.
Every year in November, the Parnell Rose Garden is host to the Parnell Festival of Roses, which showcases the blaze of colour from over 5000 roses in bloom along with plenty of craft stalls, art exhibitions, music and strolling performers.
Outside of this festival, the Parnell Rose Gardens is a more sedate affair where you can wander and explore other highlights like the oldest manuka and the largest pohutukawa tree in Auckland.
89 Totara Road, Whenuapai
By appointment only, $10 admission
A 2-acre subtropical garden set on the upper Waitemata Harbour in Whenuapai. Development began in 1999, whereby widespread planting of rare and unusual plants has been included in the garden.
There is also parrots on display, large melting pots, chimney pots, and a variety of garden art. The gardens feature a charming Bonsai Collection grown from scratch over 40 years, around 25 varieties of palms, and a large display of Bromeliads and Succulents.
These are organised in island beds and on sweeping lawns eliciting feelings of a tropical paradise. At the bottom of the garden there is a very unusual sight: the rusting hulk of HMNZS Hawera was abandoned here in the 1950s.
83 Sunnyside Rd, Coatesville
By appointment only, $15 admission
A gorgeous country garden in Coatesville covering 3 hectares with two distinct parts to the garden; a formal rose garden and tranquil lake walk.
The man-made lake was created in 1990, and itself spans 5 acres and is divided into by the main driveway causeway. There are also exotic bird aviaries, picturesque gazebo, waterlilies, rock gardens, and exotic waterfowl.
73 Parker Avenue, New Lynn
Open daily, $3 admission
A public garden covering 2.5 hectares, created and run by volunteers since 1981. Over time it has grown into a much-loved icon of West Auckland providing not only a tranquil retreat for local residents but also an education centre, wedding venue and memorial to loved ones.
The garden’s compilations include around 50 Heritage Scheduled Listed trees, both native and exotic, and many endangered trees providing a great opportunity for children to appreciate them in their natural environment.
The butterfly house is a highlight of the West Lynn Garden, where from December through to April hundreds of Monarch butterflies can be seen, with lots of eggs, chrysalis and caterpillars.
128 Mauku Road, Patumahoe
Open Thursday-Sunday, $8 admission
A picturesque water garden located 45 minutes south of Auckland city in Patumahoe. Ponds, gardens and paths have been built around the historic Mauku Waterfall, one used to power a flax mill built beside it, and rocky quarry that operated here in the decades after WW2.
The 4-acre garden has taken something ugly and made it beautiful in all seasons, but sadly in recent years, the garden has become rather unkempt. New owners have now taken over, so hopefully, this turns things around.
An ideal spot for a day visit, especially with children who will love the eels and alpacas, entrance to the gardens is via The Frog & Lily, a newly refurbished café, function centre and plant nursery.
And there you have it. All of the most beautiful gardens in Auckland you can visit!
It is hard to choose favourites, but true garden connoisseurs simply must visit Ayrlies, and make appointments to view both Mincher and Omaio. Each is a true labour of love and amongst New Zealand’s best gardens.
For free garden visits, the Auckland Botanic Gardens and Domain Wintergardens are always fabulous options, as is the Rose Garden in November. For children, the West Lynn Garden Butterfly House is certainly a standout.
But really, why not just visit them all!