Take an old abandoned rock quarry and make it into a giant garden with thousands of plants and flowers. Put different groups of plants on various levels of the old quarry. Tie the whole thing together with intertwined tracks and put exotic sculptures all over the place. Make it free and open to the public all day every day.
This is the Te Puna Quarry Park.
Located 12 km outside Tauranga, the Te Puna Quarry operated from the early 1900s up until 1979. Over that time, some 575,000 tons of rhyolite rock were removed from the quarry and used primarily for road construction. After the quarry was abandoned, the quarry site remained an ugly scar on the hillside visible from miles away, and became overgrown with noxious weeds.
After some deliberation what to do with the site, the Te Puna Quarry Park Society was formed in 1993 and over years the old quarry was transformed into what it is today—a magical oasis of plant life.
A number of paths wind through the park where there are over sixteen separate gardens highlighting various groups of plants including such groups as New Zealand native plants, palms, roses, magnolias, rhododendrons, herbs and even a butterfly garden.
It is truly a captivating place. Various sculptures are interspersed amongst the garden paths, along with occasional remnants of the old quarry operation. Numerous benches provide places to relax and look out of over the plants at the rolling New Zealand countryside and the distant ocean.
All photos by the author except “The old quarry.”