The Discovery Garden- Te Kaapuia o Te Waoku, We are all part of nature is a children’s garden, designed to be a ‘living classroom’.
The 1,500 sqm Discovery Garden showcases the many ways that plants sustain human life. Featured are a range of plants which provide food, fibre, construction materials and medicine.
You can explore this garden using a series of ramps, steps and terraces. The pathways divide the hilly topography into the distinct learning areas. We have a wildflower garden for the bees, lots of ways to grow your own food, and a composting area. There's also a seed game and interactive play area for the tamariki to enjoy.
Nestled in the centre of the garden is the Akoranga Learning Pavilion. The pavilion functions as an education centre and gathering space for school visits, workshops & events.
The Discovery Garden has been recognised by several design awards including NZILA Award of Excellence and a Designer’s Institute of New Zealand Best Design Award.
Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush offers the unique botanical experience of native New Zealand plant species, hybrids and cultivars from across the country, in one location. Here you can see a range of plants from New Zealand's mainland and off-shore islands in a series of collections of over 1,200 native plants.
Covering 100 hectares of the Kaiwharawhara Stream catchment, this unique area includes the only remaining original broadleaf-podocarp forest in Wellington City.
The Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture (RNZIH) New Zealand Gardens Trust has declared Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush a 6-star Garden of International Significance, the only one dedicated entirely to native plants. The garden has also been awarded the Green Flag Award from Recreation Aotearoa for its prestigious community value.
We want to make sure you and your group is aware of any of the risks involved around visiting both the Discovery Garden and Ōtari-Wilton's Bush Reserve. Download our Risk Registers before your visit.
Email the Education Team to find out more.
Construction in early Aotearoa highlights plants and their role in the survival of humans. Plants provide food, shelter, clothing, in addition to many other benefits. This is a programme that looks at the importance of plants and how Mātauranga Māori living locally in the time of first settlements were able to use this to their advantage. Different plant collections will be explored including plants from the offshore islands and the enormous kauri commonly found in Northland. Tamariki will experience a unique hands-on construction learning opportunity.
Healing with plants is as old as mankind itself. Tamariki will look at how we have relied upon plants and developed our use of them throughout the years to treat ailments, conditions, and injuries.
We showcase both exotic and native plants and acknowledge native plants as taonga. Tamariki will engage in a range of activities. We take a walk where we look at native plants and learn about their medicinal benefits. While in the Lotions and Potions garden we explore the medicinal benefits of exotic plants. A drink of kawakawa tea is provided as an enjoyable morning tea break. Having learnt about both exotic and native plants used for medicinal purposes, the tamariki take home an itchy bite balm they help to make using examples of plants they have learnt about earlier in the day.
“Plants Go to War” is an extension element to the medicinal programme which caters for years 5 - 8. We look at the important role plants played off the battlefield due to the scarcity of medicines.
Seeds, soil, sustainable planting, and self-sufficiency are just some of the levelled elements of this programme. Tamariki will learn through different activities about parts and functions of a plant, their growing needs, how environmental changes affect their productivity, and urban planting. Making a paper pot and planting seeds in the potting garden, exploring the Productive food garden, and feeding worms in the wormery are just some of the things to expect during this hands-on programme.
Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā Education team have taken a giant leap into space with this, one of two LEOTC programmes which are designed to complement a visit to Space Place.
This programme makes real world links to our seasons Tamariki will learn why we seasonally plant different things by taking part in some hands on relevant work in the Discovery Garden. Seed packets are a great source of information if you know how to understand what it means. We unpack the information on seed packets and work together to make a growing calendar for your class.
This second space related programme is designed for years 5-8.
Plants in space looks at how we depend heavily on Earth’s natural resources and how we need alternative ways to grow productive, healthy plants. Tamariki will develop an understanding of how experimentation here on Earth and in the International Space Station continues to develop and refine how we grow strong plants without relying purely on soil as the substrate. One activity is planting seeds in different growing medium and learning how well they grow inside a growing tent with artificial light, a similar process to that used in the space station. Hydroponics and aquaponics are other alternative growing methods introduced at during this programme.
Adaptation is the evolutionary process where an organism becomes better suited to its habitat. This process takes place over many generations. Tamariki will explore a range of plant collections at one of our Wellington Gardens to learn how and why adaptations have been made. At the Wellington Botanic Garden, they may have a close encounter at the Succulent Garden home to some spectacular cacti or the Fernery where our iconic ponga resides. At Ōtari-Wilton's Bush we may visit the Alpine Garden as well as the Rockery where the lizards hide in adapted tangled shrubs. This programme links well to the Science Curriculum and is levelled to suit your class.
Be with a Tree is a celebration of our natural environment promoted by Forest & Bird to the younger generation via their children’s department Kiwi Conservation Club. Your tamariki will explore the life force of some very old trees on site at Ōtari-Wilton's Bush. Using science capabilities, they will learn about the role of trees not only for our survival but for the many other communities which rely on them and who we share this amazing planet Earth with. While we can level the programme to suit the younger ages, this programme will be best suited to years 3 and up. This programme celebrates ‘Be with a Tree’ week particularly but is available any time throughout the year.
The Ōtari-Wilton's Bush Nature Trail / Te Ara o te Ngahere environmental education kit is an excellent downloadable tool for teachers to use independently with self guided school groups at Ōtari.
The kit is designed for use with students aged 8 - 12 years.
To ensure you have the best possible visit, please book your school visit to Ōtari-Wilton's Bush with us to make sure that only one school attends at a time.
We want to make sure your group is aware of any of the risks involved around visiting Ōtari-Wilton's Bush. Download our Risk Register before your visit.
A briefing for teachers about Ōtari-Wilton's Bush. This includes important health and safety information for school trips, links to the NZ Curriculum and some engaging pre-trip starter activities to get the class excited before their visit.
Information for the teacher on the waharoa carved gateway at the entrance and a map of the paths and trails to explore. There is also further information on the lookout, viewing platform and boardwalk.
Print and prepare some activities for the tamariki to complete during their visit like a 'My Trip' record book, and a map of the bush.
Follow up with the class with some post visit activities to refresh their learnings with these actions for students and a brief resource list.
Join our educators for an hour-long session at just $4 per child to experience both the wider garden and the Discovery Garden. Tamariki will learn about plants with fun activities that cater to your group’s needs (minimum of 10 children).
Depending on when you visit our knowledgeable team will deliver an engaging, informative and age appropriate session for your tamariki focussed on learning about the season at the time of your visit. Using an inquiry led approach the children will take part in a variety of activities.