Celebrating the




To mark this event several publications have been prepared to record its story.  They are in pdf format to download from the Friends web site and view on your computer.  Instructions are included to print if required, also binding formatting requirements.

They are available AT NO COST,
although if you enjoyed them a donation to the Friends would be appreciated. 
This can be made by  internet banking
to account 02 0500 0080203 00.
Please note in particulars section 'book donation'
Thank you in anticipation

Click on link to download file, then save to your computer for future reference, and to save additional downloads.

The publications are

The 13 acre reserve (AKA Main Garden)

A basically chronological record of its development.
friendswbg.org.nz/books/13acrereserve.pdf    CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

This publication comprises 38  pages and over 60 graphic files,  photos, maps etc. 

It focusses on the physical development of the site, and the significant land modification that has taken place.  The original site was split by the deep, heavily vegetated Pipitea Stream which ran through the valley floor, and which was initially bridged by culverts to have access to the best areas, before finally being piped and filled in with material from what became Magpie  Lawn.  Extensive earthworks were also undertaken to develop the Sound Shell Lawn, and the area around the Mairiri Road Entrance.

From high ridges to more moderate slopes, deep steeply sided naturally bush clothed gullies eroded from the valley floor, and what limited flat land there was tended to be very wet, especially in the winter, this has been transformed over the last 150 years to what we see and enjoy today.  Trees and plants  have changed over the years, but with historic specimens still present,  and facilities improved.

Apart from Pinus radiata, the  introduction of the plants and trees which formed a central part of the initial operation of the garden has not been covered, as it would require a publication of its own.

The development of this area is a fascinating one, and this comprehensive review covers many aspects over its 150 years of existence, from the very earliest days before it became a garden, to now.

Initially it was described as a Colonial Garden, established by the then Government for the benefit of the whole country.  It was only in 1891 when the Wellington City Council took over its management did it become a true 'Wellington' garden, and become available for recreational use by the citizens of this city.


Author P C Tomlinson

The Colonial Garden
and those who also created
the Wellington Botanic Garden
over the last 150 years.

Focussing on the various directors of the garden over the years, and the legacy they have left for us all to enjoy.

friendswbg.org.nz/books/directorslegacy.pdf    CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

This comprehensive publication covered both the 13 acre reserve/Main Garden and the later added Wesleyan Reserve

It comprises 100 pages, with some 160 illustrations.  It reviews what the area was like before the garden was developed, and the main work done to produce what we see today.  The publication looks at the work of all the various directors, curators, managers that have worked on the garden, plus some other important individuals who have left their mark on the landscape. 

This publication looks at the history of the Wellington Botanic Garden, or rather the major events associated with the directors, keepers, managers, curators, etc. over the years, and the legacy they have left. 

It is easy to forget that the garden we see today is very different from what existed 150 years ago.  We often forget that the site has been significantly altered  as part of its development.  The main land modifications have been -

  -  Around 1882-84 the levelling of the area we now know as the Sound Shell Lawn.  The cutting of the bank under Dray Road (now Buchanan Way) and the building of the bank along  William Bramley Drive, to provide a flat area, not the moderately steep slope that originally existed.
  -  November 1906 clearing of vegetation and installing drainage prior to filling Honeymans Gully under Anderson Park to create a  sports ground.  Gully south of Anderson Park remains.
   -  1907 the Mariri Road entrance was cleared of pines and the area significantly re-contoured.
   -  From 1927 to 1930 the Pipitea Stream running for  most of the length of Glenmore Street was cleared of vegetation, and the
stream was piped.  The area was then filled by spoil from what was to become Magpie Lawn.  The stream through the Duck Pond  was rerouted. 
   -  From  1931 to 1934 demolition of  the western ridge to its present level and filling the southern end of Honeymans Gully and laying extensive storm water drains  took place.  The level of Anderson Park was raised to conform with that of the new extension. The new land was used for extra sports fields until, with Anderson Park, it became the site of an American Marine Camp during the Second World War. After the war it was restored and used as a sports ground until the building of the Lady Norwood Rose Garden from 1951.
  -  During 2016-17 to allow  the construction of the Children's Garden (now Discovery Garden) extensive eartworks were undertaken to the site for the new garden and provide the building platform and terraced garden area.

We look at these developments, and other changes  which have altered the Wellington Botanic Garden over the last 150 years, providing  the features we enjoy so much today.

Author P C Tomlinson

Maps and Plans

A selection of maps and plans appropriate to the garden, showing changes over the years.

friendswbg.org.nz/books/maps.pdf   CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

In the preparation of the above publications, a number of plans and maps of the garden were obtained. 
These are reproduced here for your interest and resource.


Posted Under Difficulty
The story of a postcard
and a massive fund raising party
By Donal Duthie and Phil Tomlinson

The story of the fete held in 1912, and the special post office operating in the garden

friendswbg.org.nz/books/posted.pdf   CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Donal Duthie published in the Friends Newsletter some notes on this interesting and historic event. This publication expands on that article.

The fete was a community effort which attracted large crowds.  A special feature was a post office in the garden, where postcards bearing a 'botanic garden' cachet was applied as a special  feature.  Only one of these postcards has survived, and this tells the story of that card and what else was provided to entertain visitors, and encourage them to open their wallets.

An interesting piece of history that has not been repeated.


All are fully illustrated, and contain much new material and information not generally known about the development of the areas.

Information on the plant introductions are not covered at this stage, apart from Pinus radiata.