News

Spider orchids and the rare, hooded swamp orchid — Corybas carsei

The swamp helmet orchid (Corybas carsei).

21 November 2022

Te Papa’s orchid expert, Carlos Lehnebach, is working with a team of other scientists from Ōtari Botanic Native Gardens, Victoria University, and Massey University to understand the population's genetic diversity and how its relationship with fungi helps it form seed. They hope that this greater understanding of the plant’s biology will help them to establish populations at other locations, and even establish a backup population at Ōtari-Wilton's Bush. 

Continue reading here: Spider orchids and the rare, hooded swamp orchid — Corybas carsei 

Ōtari: Two hundred years of Ōtari–Wilton’s Bush

image of the book 'Ōtari: Two hundred years of Ōtari–Wilton’s Bush''

18 November 2022

The Ōtari-Wilton's Bush Trust commissioned social historian Bee Dawson to write a history of Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush, and photographer, Chris Coad, to illustrate the tome. The result is a lively, informative, and beautifully produced 226-page account of the history of this special place.

Ōtari tells the story of Ōtari–Wilton’s Bush, the only botanic garden dedicated solely to the collection and conservation of the plants unique to Aotearoa New Zealand, and a native bush reserve with over a hundred hectares of regenerating forest, including some of Wellington’s oldest trees.

Botanical descriptions and archival research are enlivened by the colourful stories of the curators who created and managed the collections, starting with Walter Brockie in 1947, and the many gardeners, botanists, and volunteers who have worked on the internationally renowned garden and reserve. Ōtari–Wilton’s Bush is a taonga that sustains both the people who visit it and the country whose plant life it protects.

You can purchase the book through the Ōtari-Wilton's Bush Trust weekend hosts (between 11am to 4pm in summer) at the Ōtari Tāne Whakapiripiri visitor centre, the Botanic Garden Treehouse shop, bookstores, or online through the publishers The Cuba Press.

New Ōtari track ready for summer visitors

Image of wooden viewing platform around Moko the 800yr old rimu at Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush. Photo credit Phil Parnell.Photo Credit Phil Parnell 

15 November 2022 

Work is complete on the first new track at Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush in 15 years. The new track makes Moko, the 800-year-old rimu and oldest tree in Wellington, more accessible. 

Continue reading here: New Ōtari track ready for summer visitors

Down the Garden Path Gin

Image a bottle of the 'Down the Garden Path' gin on a brick fence with a tree behind it and a garden fork alongside the bottle.

13 November 2022

Down the Garden Path Gin, is an exciting partnership between the distilling expertise of The Bond Store and the Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden. The collaboration is believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand, drawing inspiration from a similar collaboration created for Kew Gardens in the UK.

The boutique gin pays homage to the Botanic Gardens. Alongside more traditional botanicals, it includes an infusion that incorporates native kawakawa, and rosehips specially harvested from the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens. The inclusion of heritage roses results in a distinctive aromatic gin that is a salute to both domestic gardens and the Rose Garden. The result is a gin with a botanical signature that few (if any) other distillers are able to access. This is a gin conceived, distilled, and bottled in the Wellington region.

The name ‘Down the Garden Path’ is a nod to a Friends initiative some years ago. Everyone is familiar with the distinctive tiles set into the main sealed paths even if they don’t know that these subtle tiles signal the downward path to the city. You may recognise the tile on the label of this bottle.

A donation from the sale of every bottle supports the development of the Friends educational centre located in the soon-to-be renovated Begonia House.

"Smooth and elegant - this gin has a beautiful lightness on the palate, rounded out with the sweetness of rosehips -  perfect summer drinking as a light martini or refreshingly served with a slice of dried orange or a swish of rosemary. This is the gin to enjoy with friends and support and celebrate the Wellington Botanic Gardens."

You can buy this special gin online from the Bond Store. 

Arborists swing into action at NZ tree climbing championship

A person in a helmet and a harness clinging to a thick branch in a large pohutukawa tree during the competition.

5 November 2022

The National Tree Climbing Championship swung into action at the Wellington Botanic Garden as the country's best arborists competed for a spot on the world stage.

Continue reading here: Arborists swing into action at NZ tree climbing championship

Simply the best surgery for 'Tina Tuna' the native longfin eel

Wellington Zoo staff operating on 'Tina Tuna' using a DIY anaesthetic water bath (Source: Wellington Zoo)

2 November 2022

A native longfin eel nicknamed ‘Tina Tuna’ has had life-saving surgery at Wellington Zoo, after being spotted with a large head wound while swimming in Kaiwharawhara Stream at Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington.

Continue reading here: Simply the best surgery for 'Tina Tuna' the native longfin eel

What's all the stink about? The Wellington flower that smells like a 'dead rat

An image of the Amorphophallus konjac, aka Devil’s tongue, which is in bloom in the Begonia House at the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

2 November 2022

Two Amorphophallus konjac, aka Devil’s tongue, are in bloom at the Wellington Botanic Gardens. The unusual plant, which originates from Southeast Asia, blooms for a couple of days every few years, emitting a pungent smell to attract pollinating insects.

Continue reading here: What's all the stink about? The Wellington flower that smells like a 'dead rat'

No more redwoods: The ‘unintended consequence’ of Wellington’s booming kākā population

Image of a kākā (New Zealand forest parrot) in flightPhoto credit Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

 25 October 2022

The explosion of Wellington’s kākā population has come with an unintended consequence – the birds are eating the Botanic Gardens’ rare trees to the point of extinction.

David Sole, the manager of the Botanic Gardens told NZME “I have to say a lot of people are quite disappointed at the damage, but we take a lot more positive view". Kākā were here before people, and ultimately the problem was people, so people have to solve it and the way we’ve had to do that is diversifying our species – we know what species they’re attacking so we just won’t replant those.”

Continue reading here: No more redwoods: The ‘unintended consequence’ of Wellington’s booming kākā population

Ōtari Raranga Weavers present their spring/summer season 2022

Image of three dried woven flax baskets against two large fresh woven baskets

19 October 2022

Māori artists and weavers; Frank Topia (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Haua) and Linda Lee (Ngati Kuri, Ngāi Takoto, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Raukawa) are welcoming people to join the next round of Ōtari Raranga Weaving community classes held at Ōtari-Wilton's Bush.

The classes aim to spread knowledge of traditional Māori weaving and healing practices, utilising the native plants at Ōtari Wilton’s Bush. Te Ao Māori is also gently woven into the classes with tikanga, waiata, and Te Reo Māori. 

Continue reading here: Ōtari Raranga Weavers Present Their Spring/ Summer Season 2022

Lions Ōtari Plant Conservation Laboratory

Image of the orchid species used in the orchid conservation project. Corybas on the left and Drymoanthus on the right.

Report: July 2020 – June 2022

The Lions Ōtari Native Plant Conservation Laboratory has been in operation for four years. This dedicated facility provides Ōtari staff, volunteers, students, and external researchers with essential facilities and equipment to study New Zealand native plant species, providing baseline information to inform conservation actions. Being situated in a native botanic garden, the lab provides an opportunity for cutting-edge research into cryopreservation while at the same time establishing operational protocols for seed germination and long-term seed storage, which has immediate conservation benefits.

Read the full report: Lions Ōtari Plant Conservation Laboratory Report: July 2020 – June 2022

Stand Together Apart

A close up image of a fabric poppy pin that is worn to commemorate ANZAC day.

25 April 2020

The Friends of Bolton Street Cemetery was formed in 1977 out of concern for the well-being of the burial sites during and following motorway construction and the need to recognise the overall values of the cemetery. The Friends of Bolton Street Cemetery is a community-based voluntary organisation with charitable status. Its funding comes from subscriptions and from donations raised through guided tours of the Cemetery. Additional and very welcome donations are received regularly from members and from those with ancestors in the Cemetery. Such donations are tax-deductible. All funds are put towards the ongoing work of protecting, conserving, and maintaining the Cemetery.

There are a few different self-guided trails that you can walk if you’re local to the area like the Memorial Trail which shows paths, provides information, and locates important graves in the cemetery, or the Anzac Map which highlights the memorials of 17 prominent servicemen. You can also learn how to locate a gravestone within the historic cemetery with the How To Locate A Gravestone brochure.

Check out the brochure here: First World War Memorial Walk

Zombie swamp trees’ race against time

An image of a flowering swamp maire

17 December 2019

Threatened by myrtle rust and habitat loss, the swamp maire’s soggy seeds are proving a challenge to preserve, even with the help of liquid nitrogen. 

Karin Van der Walt, conservation and science advisor at Ōtari Native Botanic Garden, has six weeks to perform the experiments that could potentially save the species from extinction before the seeds rot, or germinate.

Continue reading here: Zombie swamp trees’ race against time

New Location for the Gift Shop

Image of the words 'Pop up shop' spelled out with square scrabble looking letter magnets with a green pot plant on the left side.

13 December 2019

Our newly relocated gift shop can be found in the Treehouse Visitor Centre. With a view from the tree-tops overlooking the centre of the garden, the Treehouse is a great place to take a rest stop and browse some fantastic New Zealand giftware. Our friendly staff can help you with information on the garden or surrounding areas of Wellington City.

The shop offers a wide range of New Zealand gifts such as soft merino ponchos, a variety of easy-care houseplants, practical garden products, unique souvenirs, books, cards, hand-made jewellery, and local products. Each purchase from the shop helps to grow the garden.

We can post your postcards both within New Zealand and internationally, so you can easily keep in touch with friends and family.

Duck food, sunscreen, city maps, and brochures are also available for no charge, but a donation is always appreciated.

New Zealand's Native Trees (Revised edition) - Interview with Rob Lucas

Image of the book New Zealand's Native Trees. It is a picture of tall native pine trees behind a lake.

18 October 2019

Rob Lucas has traveled to some of the country's most remote and inaccessible areas, photographing the country's native flora. More than 3200 of his images feature in New Zealand's Native Trees, written primarily with the botanist John Dawson, who died in March.

Listen to the Radio New Zealand interview here: Nine to Noon: Decades photographing NZ native trees

Saving Plant Species: Cryogenic Conservation

A draw stained glass window style artwork of three orchids with the surrounding text ' In defense of plants'.

15 October 2019

Did you know: the Wellington Gardens team is at the forefront of conservation technology? That we have a lab dedicated to understanding and conserving plant species?

Seed banks are important to plant conservation, but some plants don't do well in this type of storage. In order to preserve these species, we need to use another process. Join Ōtari-Wilton's Bush Conservation and Science Advisor Karin van der Walt as she shares information about this high-tech method on the In Defense of Plants podcast. 

Listen here: In Defense of Plants Episode 230 - Cryogenic Conservation

Ngā Māra o Pōneke Ngā Tohutohu Mātaki Manu | Wellington Gardens Bird Watchers Guide

An image of a Kererū (New Zealand Wood Pigeon) on a branch. It has a big white chest and a green head.

9 October 2019

Our gardens are home to a dazzling array of plants and animals. They are fantastic habitats for a diverse population of endemic, native, and introduced birds. Wellington is one of the few cities in the world where native biodiversity is increasing!

Take some time and head out to the gardens, listen and look for our bird friends, and see how many you can find.

Pick up a copy of the guide at the Treehouse Visitor Centre or view it online.

Guide in te reo Māori or English