News | 8 September 2016

New Zealand's favourite native botanic garden gains 6-star rating

Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington City Council’s native botanic garden, has just been upgraded from a 5-star Garden of National Significance to a 6-star Garden of International Significance.

Otari-Wilton's Bush.
Otari-Wilton's Bush has a six-star rating

The award was accredited to the garden by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture (RNZIH) New Zealand Gardens Trust.

Yesterday, acting Mayor Justin Lester, council officers, gardeners and officials gathered at Otari to celebrate with a presentation and a certificate awarded to the Council’s Wellington Gardens Manager David Sole.

Acting Mayor Justin Lester says: “This is a testament to the hard work of the team that looks after Otari-Wilton’s Bush, protects our native plants and enhances our natural environment for thousands of visitors to enjoy each year.”

There are only six 6-star gardens in New Zealand and Otari is the only public garden entirely dedicated to native plants. Eminent botanist and scientist Leonard Cockayne set out to showcase New Zealand native plants and their unique ecosystems when he established the garden in 1926. The garden now holds the largest collection of New Zealand plants in the country.

David Sole says he is extremely proud of the award and his team’s effort achieving it. “This is fantastic news and recognises Otari as one of the best gardens in the country. There are only six gardens in this category – none quite like Otari.

“The team work really hard through the year and are incredibly passionate about what they do. As a result, we have a fantastic native botanic garden, now with international significance, which Wellingtonians can continue to enjoy and appreciate for generations to come.”

The assessors particularly noted the improvements to the garden areas the team have been putting in place since the completion of the landscape development plan in 2010. The central collections pathway has contributed significantly towards this award. According to David Sole: “When you walk through the collections you will have a native plant experience whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not!”

Facts about Otari-Wilton’s Bush:

  • Otari-Wilton’s Bush covers 100ha hectares of the Kaiwharawhara Stream catchment. It includes the only remaining original broadleaf-podocarp forest in Wellington City.
  • Otari attracts around 80,000 visits each year and with over 90,000 this coming year, after hosting the New Zealand Festival’s For the Birds light and sound show.
  • You can see around 1,500 of New Zealand’s estimated 3,000 ferns and flowering plants. To view the collection, see Otari-Wilton's Bush - Collections.
  • Staff at Otari play a key role in the New Zealand Indigenous Flora seed bank programme through collecting seeds and assisting with training in seed collection.
  • Otari was awarded an international Green Flag in 2014.
  • Otari was one of the founding gardens of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture New Zealand Gardens Trust in 2003.

If you haven’t been to Otari-Wilton’s Bush - do make the time to visit and enjoy New Zealand’s best urban native plant collection. If you have been there – perhaps it’s time to go back and reconnect.