Bason Botanic Gardens
Gardens: Daily 8.00am - dusk
Conservatory: 9.00am - 4.30pm
'It should be a botanic garden focusing on collection, conservation and preservation of rare plants while providing a peaceful and beautiful place for people to enjoy and relax' – so said Stanley Bason when he handed over the reins of his beautiful homestead garden to the people of Whanganui back in 1966. Stanley and his long-time sweetheart and wife Blanche Prideaux lived a super frugal life on their homestead here, before finally being able to pay off their debts and settle the mortgage, and even more amazingly - they then offered this up to the Whanganui District Council in 1966 for the creation of a botanical reserve. Although the mayor and Basons faced extreme opposition from other locals who thought the space was better off used for farming, the proposal went ahead, and as a small drop in the sprawling land now covered in cows and fences, it seems a very good decision had been made.
There’s plenty of room to kick a ball around here, swing a cricket bat, throw a frisbee, walk, run, eat, nap, read a book or simply marvel at a place with so much beauty and history. Free gas BBQs in little brick turrets mean eating al fresco is easy here, while the weaving map of lanes through the gardens make it a breeze to get around, although if you’re keen to get moving then there’s plenty of walks to get the heart rate up. Wander through the humid conservatories that house tropical-loving plants, with the Blanche Bason Conservatory named after the woman who fought so hard to keep this place farm-free.
Bird song and late sun rays truly turn Bason into something special, it’s obvious someone has put a lot of time and effort into ensuring these gardens stay a visual delight for all visiting guests, and in a time when high-rise buildings and busy cities seem to be on the increase, this is a true gem worth protecting.
Words by Rosie Morrison & Photography by Anna Briggs