Botanica & Cafler Park

See one of New Zealand’s largest collections of native ferns in a tranquil garden complex and explore the adjoining park for a relaxing time.

Visit two of Whangarei’s best green spaces. First, enjoy the landscaped beauty of Cafler Park, then learn about ferns, cacti and other plant species in the green houses and gardens of nearby Botanica Whangarei.

While only small, Cafler Park is a pleasant tree-shaded park near the city center. It’s named after a keen local gardener, the Frenchman Edward Eugene Cafler. He had served in the Battle of Waterloo as a young adult and came here to Northland to see one of the country’s first missionaries, his old friend Bishop Pompallier. Cafler eventually settled in Whangarei and passed away in his stately home in the Town Basin in 1893, aged 95.

Explore the Rose Gardens near Water Street and follow the walkways. Then cross the stream over the footbridge over on the western side of the park to find Botanica Whangarei, a 1-acre (0.4-hectare) horticultural complex. Pick up a free brochure to read about the colorful, exotic plants in Botanica’s indoor and outdoor gardens.

First visit the heated Snow Conservatory for tropical plants, which was named after an honorable citizen when it was built in 1970, then explore the solar-heated Cactus House.

Plant lovers will also love exploring the generous fernery with its shade houses, tunnel, ponds, small waterfall and courtyard. The Marge Maddren Fernery was established in 1987. A more recent addition is the adobe-brick Filmy Fernhouse, which houses translucent-leaved filmy ferns.

Outside, stroll through the small Japanese-style garden and enjoy the shade garden area. Admire the collection of specimen trees and follow your nose to the scented gardens and rose beds. After your tour, enjoy a family lunch in the designated picnic areas near the stream.

Find Botanica Whangarei and Cafler Park behind the Central Library, just west of the Hatea River. Both are operated by the Whangarei District Council and entry is free of charge. Cafler Park is open year-round, but Botanica is closed in the late afternoon and also on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Find off-street parking at the rear of the garden complex or metered parking on the nearby roadsides. Public restrooms are located at the bridge entrance to the park.