Gardens and Wildlife

Pukekura Park covers about 52ha (128 acres) and contains a diverse range of landscapes, including many plant collections, exotic specimen trees, formal gardens, lakes and walking trails through native bush.

The park includes the Fernery and Display Houses as well as the adjacent garden estate area of Brooklands, home to the acclaimed TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Zoo.

Kunming Garden

Kunming Gardens in Brooklands at Pukekura Park.The Kunming Garden in Brooklands was a gift from the Mayor of Kunming following the signing of a sister city agreement between New Plymouth District and Kunming, China in August 2003. Chinese craftsmen worked alongside local landscapers and builders on the garden, which includes traditional Chinese features such as a moon gate framing the intricate pavilion and garden, dragon motifs and hand-crafted wood carvings. The garden layout is of typical Yunnan design and symbolises friendship between both cities and was opened in 2005.

Japanese Hillside

Japanese Hillside at Pukekura Park.This hillside was designed and planted to reflect a typical Japanese hillside forest. In 2001 the Mishima Gate, a traditional red Japanese torii gate, was opened by Mishima City Council Chairman Mr Hajime Shimura and Deputy Mayor Peter Tennent to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between New Plymouth and Mishima.

King Fern Gully

King Fern Gully at Pukekura Park.King Fern Gully is located beside the Sports Ground and Terraces on Fillis Street. It was named after the para or king fern, which is sometimes called a horseshoe fern because of the base of the frond is shaped like a horse's hoof. The plants were used by Maori as food. King ferns, with their shining 4m-high fronds, are now rare in the wild owing to the ravages of wild pigs.

Fernery and Display Houses

Fernery and display houses at Pukekura Park.The Fernery and Display Houses are built into a hillside which aids temperature control, and are connected by iconic earth tunnels. The facility is recognised internationally by horticulturalists for its house design, propagation expertise and consistently high-quality plant displays. To learn more about the Fernery and Display Houses click on the link below.

Hatchery Lawn

Hatchery Lawn at Pukekura Park.Located next to Fountain Lake, the Hatchery Lawn is one of the venues for evening concerts and performances in the park during the annual TSB Bank Festival of Lights. 

Eastern Hillside

Eastern Hillside overlooking the main lake at Pukekura Park.The Eastern Hillside overlooks the Main Lake and slopes down towards the area of Stainton Dell. There is a lookout platform at the top of the hill and a picnic area. 

Stainton Dell and Fred Parker Lawn

Stainton Dell and Fred Parker Lawn at Pukekura Park.Stainton Dell is located next to the Fred Parker lawn and is named after Percy Stainton, Secretary of the Pukekura Park Board 1919 - 1959. Fred Parker was a local nurseryman who gifted a large number of orchids to the park's collection during the 1960s. The Fred Parker lawn is a popular special occasion and picnic area.

Goodwin Dell

Goodwin Dell at Pukekura Park.Goodwin Dell features a collection of deciduous Azalea Mollis and is located at the Brooklands Drive entrance.
Named after New Zealand-born horticulturalist Mr John W Goodwin, Curator and Director of Pukekura Park 1949-1977.

Kauri Grove

Kauri Grove at Pukekura Park.Kauri do not naturally occur in Taranaki, however New Plymouth's frost-free climate with plentiful rainfall, warm temperatures and deep free-draining loam soil provides ideal conditions for growth. The Kauri Grove is located on the bush track behind Kunming Garden.

Rhododendron Dell

Rhododenron Dell at Pukekura Park.Located between the top of the Upper Lake and Waterlily Lake, the Rhododendron Dell is fringed by an impressive mixed grove of totaras, rimus and kowhais. Planted with colourful rhododendrons that blossom in the spring, the dell is alive throughout the year with movement and song of tuis and bellbirds.

Palm Lawn

Palm trees at Palm Lawn in Pukekura Park.Located between the Fountain Lake and the children's playground, the Palm Lawn is an open space surrounded by a collection of palm trees perfect for a sunny day picnic.

Ancient Puriri Tree

This ancient tree is one of the largest of its species in New Zealand and was estimated to be 2000 years old in 1913. It is located near the track at the Somerset Street entrance to Brooklands Park. 

Historic Giant Ginkgo Tree

This female Maidenhair Tree, one of the largest of its species recorded in New Zealand, was planted in 1880.
It is located in the Maranui Gully near the List Street gardens, where the track takes a loop to a grove of king ferns. 

Chinese Collection

This garden is made up of trees and shrubs that originate from China and was first planted in 1992. The Chinese collection is located in the Upper Maranui Gully, next to the Coronation Avenue entrance. 

Tea House Wisterias

Tea House Wisterias at Pukekura Park.The Tea House Wisterias were planted in 1908 and are still growing today. The pegola that supported the plants was replaced and donated in 2009 with a purpose-built design by local businessman Robert Stone.

Birds

Pukekura Park is famous for its large variety of native and introduced trees which in turn attract many species of resident and visiting birds. Some birds commonly seen include tui, kereru (New Zealand Wood pigeon), sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, thrush, wax eyes, ducks, and shags. For a few weeks a year a few visiting kaka (forest parrots) can be heard or seen. Bird surveys have reveiled up to 18 different species of birds can be seen in one hour.

Kereru (New Zealand Wood Pigeon)

Kereru New Zealand Wood Pigeon in trees at Pukekura Park.

Ducks and Ducklings. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Ducks and ducklings in the main lake at Pukekura Park.

Canadian Geese. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Canadian Geese in the main lake at Pukekura Park.

Amphibians

Pukekura Park has three species of introduced Australian frogs: Brown tree frog/ Whistling tree frog (Litoria ewingii), Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis) and Green and Golden Bell frog (Litoria aurea).

All species of frogs call to attract mates at certain times of the year. Brown tree frog’s high pitched call can be heard during most calm nights. The other two species are only heard calling from the lakes and ponds during certain days in November and December. 

Brown Tree Frog/Whistling Tree Frog. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Brown Tree Frog/ Whistling Tree Frog at Pukekura Park.

Southern Bell Frog. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Southern Bell Frog on a leaf at Pukekura Park.

Green and Golden Bell Frog. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

 Size of Green and Golden Bell Frog against a pen at Pukekura Park.

Reptiles

Pukekura Park is believed to have a variety of New Zealand skinks and geckos. Sightings are rare given there secretive lifestyles and for some nocturnal habits. One of the geckos that has been seen on more than one occasion is the Taranaki Gold-Stripe Gecko (Hoplodactylus chrysosireticus).

Gold-Stripe Gecko. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Gold Stripe Gecko face at Pukekura Park.

Gold-Stripe Gecko. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Gold stripe gecko on a leaf at Pukekura Park.

Fish

Pukekura Park does not have a large variety of fish living within its waterways. This is largely to do with several man-made structures preventing upstream migration of fish. Species known from surveys to live in the park include eels, banded kokopu, goldfish and perch. Large schools of goldfish can be seen on sunny days particulary in the large lakes and a few large eels still remain. The famous Pukekura Park Great Eel Hunt was stopped in 2001 to allow eel stocks to improve due to dwindling numbers.

Fernery Display House Goldfish.

Goldfish in the Fernery display house at Pukekura Park.

Mammals

Pukekura Park like other areas in New Zealand has a variety of introduced mammals. These are rarely encountered given their mostly nocturnal habits. Hedgehogs are one of the more likely to be encountered during an evening or early morning stroll.

Hegehog. Photo credit: Nathan Hills.

Hedgehog in the grass at Pukekura Park.

Hedgehog Footprints. Photo credit: Nathan Hills. 

Hedgehog footprints.

Invertebrates (creepy crawlies)

The park contains a large variety of small animals that can be heard or seen. From noisy cicadas to beautiful butterlies to glow insects (glow worms). Two of the more famous creepy crawlies are glow worms and freshwater crayfish, both have had student videos made about them.

Native Leaf Veined Slug. Photo credit: Nathan Hills. 

Native Leaf Veined Slug on a leaf at Pukekura Park.

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