The last story in my New Zealand saga will be about the fantastic Hamilton Gardens in Waikato, NZ. Hamilton is small city in the North island. There is not much to see except the Gardens. They are the most visited attraction here, with over one million people every year. This place isn’t your usual botanic gardens. Through the unique plants and architecture it tells the story of the gardens.
This is near the entrance to the gardens.
Until 1958 this area was a dump. One man had a vision of the unique gardens and kept bombarding the local council with his great ideas. Finally the council agreed and the garden started to unravel.
The main plaza looks like this. Each arch takes visitors to a different era and culture.
The first one is the Egyptian garden. The entrance is guarded by typical sculptures.
Further down there is a secluded area with a reflection pond and huge hedge.
Japanese Garden of Contemplation.
An example of the 14-16th century Muromachi period gardens designed for contemplation and study.
Water, rocks and trees – that’s all needed to create this atmosphere. The guide told us Japanese experts came to Hamilton to make sure that all elements are perfectly balanced and are in right places.
To get to Chinese Scholar’s Gardens we had to walk through this beautiful gate. Sculptures of dogs/lions are there to greet the visitors and protect from the demons. These gardens are the replica of the 10-12th century Sung Dynasty gardens, which were designed as a natural world of imagination and surprise.
All footpaths are slightly curved. This is a precaution against the demons, who can move only in a straight line.
A small opening between two areas in Chinese garden.
This rock came from China, where it was shaped by waterfall by centuries. Every rock is unique and sacred.
To avoid bad spirits, those rocks are placed behind beautifully made ceramic bamboo.
Moon gate and pagoda.
Chinese dragon/turtle suppose to prevent floods from Waikato river. Looks like it’s working, as there have been no floods up to now. 😜
This is a view on Chinese gardens from the pagoda.
Italian Reinessance Garden is an interpretation of 15-16 th century gardens that sought to rationalise and improve upon nature. At that time the cities of Italy experienced flowering of arts and science, which included the art of garden design. Sculptures usually referred to classical myths the gardens were designed around regular progressions of elements.
Strong parallel lines, great sculptures and fountains. Citrus and olive trees happily grow in large pots. Veggies grow in the ground. All produce goes to the restaurant to make fresh lunches for visitors.
Powerful families built magnificent gardens around their country villas as symbol of their prestige. The gardens were places of entertaining and for impressing guests.
Modernist garden in the best traditions of the American West Coast, designed for outdoor living.
The large Marylin Monro portrait looks much better from the distance.
Strange futuristic sculptures cause heated discussions among the visitors: what are they? I saw a dog and a whale. How about you?
This is Indian Char Bagh Garden – an interpretation of a 16-17th Century symbolic four-quartered garden, built for the Mughal aristocracy as an escape from a harsh environment. The”char Bagh” or “enclosed four part”garden was a very traditional garden, which spread throughout the Muslim world from Asia to Spain.
The Indian char Bagh gardens were poetic, secret, pleasure gardens in which one could feel the breezes in the open pavilion, hear the sound of running water and enjoy the perfume of flowers. Some elements remotely remind me of Taj Mahal, but only slightly. The views are beautiful anyway.
The most specrtacular one was Tudor Garden – an interpretation of 16th Century English Renaissance garden decorated with knot gardens and fantasy beasts.
How cool is this pergola!!! Imagine how it looks in spring, covered with leaves and flowers….
And now we come to the Te Parapara Garden, which demonstrated traditional Maori (local people) horticulture with particular reference to Waikato. In pre – European times there were many gardens on the banks of the Waikato river.
Lots of wooden sculptures with similar facial expressions. The purpose is to scare visitors to death. Maori horticulture is closely connected to spiritual beliefs. Gardens and gardening techniques have ritual aspects. The carved figures represent specific ancestral figures.
This is a cool house/ produce storage. And those scary little men are all around the structure.
All those men are very well developed in the nether region, and all of them fully aroused. Apparently that represents their ability to fight for their families and homes (?).
This is a sundial, which has years, months and even days. It is extremely accurate according to the plaque on the ground.
Our guide is trying to explain how it works.
The gardens are in permanent process of development. There are are ideas to create Concept Garden, Modernist garden, Mansfield Garden and Futuristic garden. Some of them are already underway. I am planning to visit it again in a couple of years.
Famous characters from Alice in Wonderland said their goodbyes and we parted our ways. This is a great place and really worth a visit.
And the best part – it’s free!