Hidden gems—The Wellington Botanic Garden

Hidden gems—The Wellington Botanic Garden

As the seasons get cooler, now’s the time to make the most of any outdoor time you can get. Sitting just above Kelburn campus, the Wellington Botanic Garden is an ideal spot for some greenery and downtime.


When people say something ‘hardly needs saying’, this probably means it does need saying. There are things that are so obvious that sometimes it’s hard to notice them. The wood versus all the trees and so on. For those of us on Kelburn campus, the proximity of botanical delight is something I don’t appreciate as much as I should.

Now, I’m a small-town girl from a very small town. The fact that there are cinemas, theatres (plural!) and more than one restaurant open on any given night is kind of a big deal. And though good old Wellington is comfortably reigning the arts, culture, and political sphere in New Zealand, I have to say that I do miss a sense of vastness and space—sometimes I just need a bit of sky and a view that is crowded with living things.

This is why the proximity of the Wellington Botanic Garden feels almost like a personal gift to me. The view of the sky and the Wellington harbour from the top of the hill near Carter Observatory is the perfect antidote to cabin fever. Not even bad weather is a deterrent when you can watch the rain come in from the other side of the bay, and see the glorious clouds rip and swirl when the wind is up (if you’re feeling less adventurous, the stairwell in the Kelburn campus library provides a dry, wind-free alternative of the same view).

From there, you can make your way downhill. As the canopy rises above your head, enjoy the gloom of the vibrant fern groves, the vistas from the balconies, the duck pond beneath the trees, and the bright order of the rose garden. I have happily wandered off paths away from the noise of the street (for the most part—the sirens can be really insistent), but if you feel like more structured walks, there are free maps at most entrances in a little waterproof box. Just the names are enticing enough—the Peace Garden, the Joy Fountain, Lady Norwood Rose Garden, and Begonia House.

It hardly needs saying that this is a gem we may know about but don’t take full advantage of. So let me encourage you to talk that little walk up the hill. Sometimes all you need is a little afternoon sun rippling across a glistening pond.

William Carlos Williams once wrote:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

When I watch the light wave feathery across the long grasses and smell the rich mulchy-ness of the fern groves, I think I know what he means.

Amy Stimson hails from South Africa and is a second-year PhD student in English Literature with a focus on J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

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