25 minutes out of Whanganui lies a not-so-wee gem that is perfect to explore with your kids for a day: Paloma Gardens.
A private garden that has been a labour of love for Clive and Nicki Higgie – who are sort of like rock stars in the botanical world – Paloma Gardens boasts a staggering collection of plants and trees from all over the world, and countless fine examples of New Zealand flora. Paloma Gardens can be found on Pohutukawa Lane, just past Fordell.
There is an entrance fee – $10 for adults, and children under 15 are free. Compared with similar gardens I have visited overseas, I think this price is a bargain. You really could explore this place at your leisure all day, it’s that big.
There are wonderful sculptures all around the garden, such as this:
And there is even a sculpture walk:
(This bit is probably not the best for rambunctious toddlers who want to touch the precious sculptures, but there is plenty of garden left to explore.)
Paloma Gardens has many parts to it: the Desert House, the Palm Garden, the Garden of Death, a wedding lawn (they host many weddings here), a labyrinth, a lake and much, much more. The plants and trees are incredible, and there are delightfully quirky touches all over the gardens. It’s obvious that the owners have an irreverent sense of humour.
I loved it.
My tots had a brilliant time exploring the wonders of the garden:
We inadvertently took a wrong turn on our way to the lake and ended up taking a rather long hike. The climb back up the hill from the lake is very steep, just FYI. My two were knackered from all the hill climbing and exploring, so we didn’t get to see all the gardens before they needed to head home for a nap. Parts of the gardens are buggy accessible, but if you have a wee one you’d be better off with a front/back pack. Due to the gardens being situated on a very hilly site, only parts of Paloma Gardens are wheelchair accessible.
We’re already planning our next visit.
Thanks Clive and Nicki!