News | 18 December 2020

Welly Walks: A place to smell the roses and remember

Throughout its 150-year history, Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā has been lots of things to many people, and Janet Crozier is no exception.

A view of the Wellington Botanic Garden seasonal flower beds, busy with people coverings the paths and trees around the edges.

As a child it was a place where she found enjoyment playing at the old playground. And as an adult, it’s been a place to celebrate and commemorate her loved ones.

Originally from Johnsonville but now a Porirua resident, Janet has been visiting the gardens, located in Kelburn, for at least 50 years.

She recalls many visits to the capital, where she would walk down Lambton Quay, then up Cable Car Lane, and ride the iconic red carriage to the top.

“We did the Cable Car back in the day when you sat on the seat outside – you often lost your jandals over the edge!

“Then suddenly you’re in the Botanic Garden and you’ve got that view. We used to have picnics there and we always enjoyed the playground – they used to have a witch’s hat and a boat swing we would play on.”

The Botanic Garden is recognised as a Garden of National Significance and was the first public garden to be classified as a historic area by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

With 25 hectares of specialised plant collections, protected native forest, unique landscapes and stunning views, the garden is an ideal wedding location.

Janet’s sister Christine married in The Dell, an outdoor space located behind the Begonia House. Janet cherishes her memories of the day, as Christine has since passed away.

Because many of the tracks within the garden are accessibility friendly, Janet has been able to visit with her mother.

“We’d take mum in the wheelchair and visit the gardens and talk about Christine there.”

The back of a young girl and a women in a pink top with a long braid enjoying the view of Wellington from the top of the Cable Car track in Kelburn.

Janet's great-niece and sister, Margaret, enjoying the view from the top of the Cable Car track.

Janet, who works with foster children, is passionate about seeing kids outdoors and away from screens.

She says the Botanic Garden is a great place to spend a day with young ones, and she seizes the opportunity to visit when her great-nieces and nephews come to stay. 

“My sister Margaret brings a different grandchild every school holiday to visit their great-grandmother, my mum. For a treat we catch the train into town, do the Cable Car, go to the gardens and then get an ice cream.

“These kids come from the country so having a city experience is pretty exciting for them.”

Beginning at the Cable Car entrance, Janet and her whānau will make their way along the Downhill Walk – following the Pohutukawa mosaic tiles on the track – stopping at the children’s play area, the seasonal flowerbeds, and all features in between.

The Downhill Walk (identified in orange on this map) then leads to Bolton Street Cemetery ki Paekākā, where Janet has ancestors buried, and back down to Lambton Quay.

“I really love Wellington – I tell everyone about it. It’s compact, it’s got the harbour, it’s got the hills, it’s got the heritage buildings, and it’s got the gardens.”

A large green plastic container with a Capital magazine and a croissant sitting on top of the container's yellow lid, placed in a grassy area with a children's playground in background.

This is the third story of six in our #WellyWalks series. Hit the Downhill Walk at Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā from 9am on Saturday 19 December to find the #WellyWalks treats!

Happy walking!