One of the oldest botanic gardens in New Zealand, this central city garden was established in 1868. The major conifer species which are a feature were planted then as part of a programme to import plant species and assess their economic potential to the new colony. The very large specimens of Pinus radiata that dominate the landscape were grown from the first seed of that species to be imported from California.
A feature of the gardens are major seasonal floral displays, spectacular in spring, with a massed display of 30,000 tulips. In summer, the Lady Norwood Rose garden provides a colourful spectacle with 106 formal beds each containing a different cultivar. Adjacent is a large Begonia House displaying tropical and temperate plants and a tropical conservatory with a seasonal display of orchids. Victoria amazonica, the giant water lily can be found here.
There are several key attractions in the garden that visitors can experience such as glow worms in the Main Garden, public art throughout the garden, children’s play area, Botanic Garden Café located in the Lady Norwood Rose Garden and the Carter Observatory. The information centre is located in the spectacular Tree House and nearby there is a rock garden, an extensive fern collection and a camellia walk. There are extensive, well-maintained, walking paths throughout the garden.
The Wellington Cable Car runs from Lambton Quay up to the Kelburn entrance of the garden. Visitors can spend a couple of hours or a whole day exploring the garden.