Tupare Gardens
New Zealand,  Taranaki

The Best Garden in New Plymouth?

Tupare Gardens is located just inside the city limits of New Plymouth and has been standing since 1932. The garden is part of a large homestead that was built by Sir Russell Matthews. Since, it has become one of New Plymouth’s premier parks and attracts visitors year round.

Tupare is a popular swimming destination as well as being a fantastic picnic location and a beautiful scenic garden. The garden sits on the banks of the Waiwhakaiho River and the carpark is located at the top of the river bank. Most of the garden is located on the hillside and at the bottom are the stunning river flats.

Located about halfway down the hill is the Chapman-Taylor House, along with the house gardens and a public tennis court. The tennis court can be accessed at most times and is kept open to the public. Public tours of the house run on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 11 am October through March. The house has a unique architectural style and is worth a visit if you are able to visit at a tour time – the house usually isn’t accessible otherwise.

Chapman-Taylor House

The Chapman-Taylor House within Tupare Gardens is both in a stunning location and stunning itself. The inside is no less impressive!

The gardens themselves are incredibly diverse and house hundreds of different plants with some themed areas. From the river flats at the bottom of the hillside to the carpark at the top, you will find many different species. Tupare is a good visit in all seasons due to the wide variety of flora. In fall, Tupare has the best colours in the city mainly due to the many Maple trees. In spring, a dell of the old English bulb of Lily of the Valley can be seen (and smelt) blooming. A full map of the gardens can be found here.

There are a large variety of paths that lead down the riverbank. As such, It’s very easy to spend a few hours at Tupare. From the carpark, simply enter the garden through the gates and head either left or right. To the right, you will find most of the flower gardens and other gardens, and to the left is a track that leads through the trees to the river flat.

Tupare Garden Paths

The Burma Trail in Tupare Gardens.

My recommendation is to begin by walking down the Burma Trail. This will lead down to the river flat and the picnic areas (equipped with barbecues too!). If you are visiting with children it is a great idea to bring a soccer ball, frisbee, or anything else that can be used in large spaces. The flats are large and fantastic for outdoor sports. Being on the side of the river means that it is also an ideal swimming spot.

About swimming – the river isn’t clean and at times there are warnings against swimming in the river. This site here is a great guide to the water quality and will let you know if it is safe to swim in or not. Generally, however, avoid the river for three days after heavy rain, if the river is high, or if you cannot see the bottom of the river clearly. You will probably still see locals swimming, but it is worth being wary.

Entry Fees

Since Tupare Gardens is operated by the regional council it is open every day and also free to enter. This is the same case for Pukeiti and Hollard Gardens which are two more popular Taranaki spots. Tupare is one of the few remaining free gardens in New Plymouth. It is loved and enjoyed by many locals.

Facilities

The garden is equipped with free to use barbecues and a roofed area to enjoy your food. The garden also has toilets (restrooms), picnic areas, and even a tennis court. These aspects combined make the garden a fantastic place to spend a summer (or any nice) evening.

There is a ban on dogs in the garden as it helps to preserve the pristine quality of the garden and also helps to make a family friendly public space. The garden also has wheelchair access (although there are some quite steep hills) and a shuttle service. For more information about this, please refer to the website.

The gardens at Tupare are well maintained and stunning.

One of the most unique aspects and by far one of my favourites is that the garden is constantly changing. While keeping the spirit and feeling of the original garden, there are always improvements and changes being made. The garden is fantastically maintained and it is really a testament to the quality and skill of the gardeners that look after it – Even after more than 75 years, it is beautiful.

Events

Tupare also has many events running throughout the year and a full list can be found here. Multiple garden fairs run throughout the year, beginning in January. These fairs have live music, performances, food, and house tours. If you are looking for some great free entertainment then these events are definitely worth checking out!

There are also many other more niche events that run throughout the year. Everything from gardening lessons (such as how to maintain and grow perfect grass), botanical art classes and courses on how to landscape take place throughout the year. The council has done a fantastic job at making sure that Tupare always has something to entertain visitors.

The river flats at Tupare Gardens provide a great location for family activities and picnics.

Is Tupare Worth Visiting?

Without a doubt. Whether you visit by yourself, on a date, with a family, or with friends, Tupare is worth a visit. Even if you aren’t a person who loves gardens, Tupare may make you change your mind. What I love about Tupare is that while it is a fantastic and beautiful garden, it also has areas that can be played in. Taking a soccer ball or frisbee and playing on the river flat is an experience that will stay with you for years to come.

If the sun is too hot then simply head down to the river for a dip. The combination of elegant gardens and the uncontrollable river give the garden a feeling unique to other similar locations. It isn’t just a garden that can be loved by garden lovers. It is a garden that can be loved by anyone.

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