Discover the land of exotic plants at Botanica Whangarei
Nature enthusiasts will get their fair share in Whangarei with various parks, gardens and nature exhibits in close proximity to the CBD. Along with the Whangarei Quarry Gardens, Botanica Whangarei is a must-do experience if you want to discover native trees and plants. What started out in 1970 with a single conservatory has since developed into a 1-acre subtropical paradise open to the public.
The main part of Botanica offers a colourful display of exotic palms, orchids and other native plants. Built in 1970 with donations from the Snow family, the conservatory is the perfect spot to forget about your everyday sorrows and simply relax, take a deep breath and let the song of native birds and the ripple of tiny waterfalls whisk you away to your happy place.
The conservatory houses a large collection of tropical and subtropical plants along with an ever-changing display in the foyer. Let yourself be entertained by the array of funky mirrors upon entering the conservatory or enjoy a game of chess by the little pond. Grab yourself a free brochure while you’re here and find out how you can recreate a native paradise in your own backyard.
Marge Maddren Fernery
Botanica Whangarei has one of the biggest collections of native ferns in the entire country. Despite the small space you soon feel like being in the middle of the forest, with a small eel pond in the centre. The fernery was completed in 1987 and now consists of three shade houses, a linking tunnel, several ponds and water features with a waterfall and a large courtyard. Named after Marge Maddren, former president of the Whangarei Native Forest and Bird Protection Society, this complex also houses the Finn Bruce Filmy Fern House with a special collection of native ferns inside.
On the far end of the fernery is a single room dedicated to all arid plants. The Cactus House was established in 1977 after generous donations from the Whangarei Ladies Garden Club to commemorate their 50th anniversary. Amidst a rocky landscape, numerous spiky cacti and succulents have been beautifully arranged for a very authentic desert experience. The scenery is completed by a stunning photo montage in the background and passive solar heating helps recreate the climate necessary for these desert plants to thrive.
The latest addition to Botanica was created with the help of students from the local Pompallier Catholic College in 2013. The Japanese Tea Garden consists of a large Magnolia and a Gingko tree as well as a Temperate Garden with several bromeliads, palm trees, a Bear’s Paw Fern and a large Hoya. In alignment with Japanese traditions, it’s the perfect space for meditation and peaceful reflection.
Botanica Whangarei is open to the public daily from 10am to 4pm and free of charge. The entire facility is pushchair-friendly and wheelchair accessible and a volunteer is usually around to answer questions and tell you more about the displays. Picnic tables are available in the courtyard outside the complex and food is also allowed to be consumed on the premises, making it a perfect location for outings on sunny and rainy days alike.
Limited free parking is available on First Avenue right outside the complex and nearby streets, with more paid parking at Forum North carpark, accessible via the footbridge and through Cafler Park. Public toilets are also located just outside Botanica just before the footbridge. Botanica Whangarei can be hired for weddings, receptions and other functions, with the site accommodating up to 50 people.