Wellington: Botanic Gardens, fish pie, and a cyclone…

We recently visited Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, on the southern tip of the North Island. From the waterfront promenade we could see the craggy shorelines, dotted with houses and sailing boats.

Just as we arrived, we heard Wellington was expecting the tail end of a cyclone that had devastated the Pacific Island of Tonga.

However, all was calm, and we had a few plans..

One of the attractions of the city is catching the little red cable car that clatters up the steep slope to the top of the Botanic Gardens…you can then wander down through the gardens,  all the way down to the Harbour….

Paul took this photo on the way up the hill (in my view, a mountain). The weather, we had to admit, wasn’t looking great.

We began our Botanic garden walk in the tracks of the original forest..

As I mentioned in my last post, many parts of New Zealand were used for the filming sites for the Lord of the Rings trilogy….

and quite often we felt we were entering Middle Earth territory….

This map shows New Zealand, Australia, India, Africa, South America, and Antarctica once formed a land mass called Gondwana.

Gondwana broke up about 167 million years ago and trees from the Araucaria family were spread all over these countries and continents.

Today trees, including the South American monkey puzzle, the Australian Moreton Bay fig and the Norfolk pine, are found across the southern hemisphere. Many of these trees were found in the Botanic gardens.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Wellington’s Botanic garden was established in 1868, and has native and exotic trees, succulent gardens, seasonal displays of bulbs and annuals……something for everyone! (and all growing on the side of the mountain.)

I felt as if I was in South Africa, in particular Cape Town, walking around the succulent gardens..

The Aloes plants are welcome source of food in winter for insects and native birds such as Tui,  they love the nectar.

My favourite flower, seen frequently in NZ, seems to grow wild in some places…

Kaka Beak

The  succulent below looks a bit space age to me…

Haemanthus (Blood Lily)


Dwarf Pohutukawa

There were bee hives tucked away in all the garden beds..

Paul took a photo from our path across to Druid Hill where we could see a large copper sculpture called Listening and Viewing Device: Andrew Drummond 1994.  When the structure was first built, the original plan was to lift the two pieces into place by a helicopter, but the weight was more than estimated, (over a tonne)  and another more heavy duty helicopter sent from New Plymouth had to finish the job!

..back into Middle Earth again with these wonderful tree ferns…

this path led on to curved shady borders of Agapanthus, Hydrangeas, Rhododendrons, Irises…sadly the flowers are mostly spent now that summer is nearly over..

Along with the spring bulbs this must be a wonderful spring/early summer garden to visit.

After that long and interesting walk through the gardens we felt we had earned an evening meal at the Waterfront.

Wellington is not only the capital of New Zealand, but is also a University town, so we were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a place to eat.


Charlie Noble (Eatery and Bar) looked great…… local ingredients,  wood-fired  grills, and rotisserie, natural wine and craft beer…

I tried the House Pot fish pie, and no, I didn’t see the word large anywhere on the menu! ….actually the pastry gently deflated into the wonderful fish dish.

New Zealand wine and local craft beers…….. how could we resist!

Fortunately we did enjoy our meal on the Waterfront, because the next morning, looking out of the window of our hotel room, onto the Botanic Gardens….the rain and wind from the cyclone had hit Wellington. We were hotel bound for a short while.

Perhaps because I live in the driest continent on earth,  my first thought, when I looked out of the window was….”well at least the Botanic Garden is getting some rain”

…and some!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.



27 Replies to “Wellington: Botanic Gardens, fish pie, and a cyclone…”

  1. It has given me such pleasure to read this post bringing back so many happy memories of a country I love. My brother had a house in Wellington for some years having married a New Zealander so i know it well. Very glad that you had such an enjoyable time there and thanks for all those excellent photographs.

    1. Thanks Susan, I will do a more general post on Wellington next, (with some sunshine) so hopefully you can see more of Wellington itself. In the beginning of our trip we were hampered by the weather. I’m glad it brought back happy memories.

  2. The Botantic Gardens look amazing, so many fantastic plants (and sculpture) to see. Fascinating to see the aloe plant in flower and your favourite flower was very striking! Thank goodness you managed to visit the gardens before the rain! Your fish pie looks huge! Sarah x

  3. I love that walk down through the botanic gardens and I bet windy Wellington lived up to its name that day. I remember hanging onto lampposts when waiting to cross roads…

  4. Some of those plants look gloriously exotic. I’d always thought of NZ as having a climate very similar to the UK, albeit reverse seasons, but it is clearly much warmer than that. The rain though, now that is very familiar!

  5. Images of Cape Town in parts – lucky you mentioned you were in Wellington! So many beautiful gardens to see.

    1. Yes, I am amazed that they were able to grow so many varieties of plants on those slopes…the cable car was a treat!

    1. Fish Pie New Zealand style is a treat, juicy white fish pieces in a tasty creamy sauce. This pie comes in a dish, so only pastry on the top. Lovely!

  6. How lovely this garden is, Gerrie. The Kaka Beak flower is very striking and I really love the colour. I’m afraid that huge sculpture doesn’t appeal to me in the least, but the wonderful tree ferns more than make up for it. 🙂 Yummy fish pie…… I could definitely do that justice.

    1. Yes, I agree about the sculpture, and so big! The Kaka Beak flower is so colourful, no wonder the birds love it!

  7. How I enjoyed this post. I would dearly like to visit NZ one fine day, it looks so beautiful and exotic. How lucky you are getting to visit, I do hope you post more re your holiday!xxx

  8. What a gorgeous garden with an astonishing variety of beauties to enjoy! Sometimes when the weather is cloudy, it really makes the flower colors pop. I have never been to been to Wellington, but you seem to have brought the atmosphere of it right into my home. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Brenda…and James Cook landed in Wellington too… as well as Alaska and Sydney…and many more places no doubt!

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