Waipahihi Botanical Reserve

Waipahihi Botanical Reserve is an amazing garden built with love, and is also a fun Taupo walk.

This reserve can be accessed from Shepherd Road in Taupo. Situated high on a hill, Waipahihi Botanical Reserve has spectacular views over Great Lake Taupo to the mountains of the Tongariro National Park. The reserve is a free Taupo activity and was established in 1966. It is filled with native trees and plants that are developed and beautifully maintained by dedicated volunteers.

The reserve's society has a membership of approximately 250. Records show that the first voluntary working bee at the 35 hectare Waipahihi Reserve was on 1st October 1966 and it was resolved at an early stage that most development and maintenance work would be done by the members voluntarily. Today this is still how most of the work is completed at the Reserve though contractors are used sparingly for big pruning and earthmoving projects.

Spring blooms at Waipahihi Botanical Garden

Weekly working bees for the volunteers were orignally for about 3 to 4 hours at a time, but these have been reduced over the years to 2 hours, plus time for a chat and cup of tea afterwards in the clubrooms. About 20 volunteers are currently involved in the weekly activities. They use a wide range of power equipment from tractors and ride-on mowers to trowels and pruners.

From those early beginnings, there are now over 2000 rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas growing in the Reserve which have been strategically intermingled in the forest trees with other feature plantings. The best time to see the spectacular floral displays is in spring – October and November.

If the best flowering period is missed, the 2km loop of sealed drive provides ample opportunities to stop and view Taupo township, Mount Tauhara and the lake with the mountains in the distance.

Many picnic tables and seats are provided, some with views and others located in the trees and open spaces. It is an ideal place for children to play and explore the many hiding opportunities that abound. Families meet for birthdays, anniversaries, lunch, morning or afternoon tea and several areas are ideal venues for marriage ceremonies.

Wander around Waipahihi Botanical Gardens

Throughout the Reserve there are numerous trails and these usually have a theme, for example rhododendron, camellia, lemonwood and The Floral Walk. There are opportunities to walk in the native trees that have been preserved, with specialist plantings including flax, hebe, rata and kauri. These have survived the harsh winters and are now well established.

An active rodent eradication policy has enabled the birds to have a safe haven and often the only sounds heard are birds and the rustle of the breeze in the tree tops.

Waipahihi Reserve is located at the top of Shepherd Road, the route used by stage coaches that carried travellers from the Taupo wharf to the Terraces Hotel (now the Hilton) for onward travel to Napier or Rotorua. A section of the Reserve's sealed drive incorporates the Taupo – Napier Coach Road.

Open until dusk every day, the Reserve welcomes everyone and is a great Taupo family activity.  The Waipahihi Botanical Society appreciates visitors’ donations and interest in their piece of paradise.

If you’re looking for things to do in Taupo, consider visiting ‘A forest in the making’. A great place to walk your best friend!

Enquiries can be made to: waipahihibotanical@gmail.com or Phone: 07 378 0751


Explore our language pages