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Pukeiti

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Open all day every day
Free entry

Address: 2290 Carrington Road New Plymouth View on Google maps

  • cafe3x Café
  • dogs3x Please, no dogs
  • conference3x Conference facilities
  • toilets3x Toilets
  • wheelchair3x Wheelchair access
  • school3x Rainforest School
  • bus3x Mobility assistance
  • tours3x Gardens Tours
Facilities

Encounter the mystery

Pukeiti's rhododendrons and other exotics create an explosion of colour amidst lush native rainforest.

Image of Rhododendrons and exotic plants at Pukeiti

Rhododendrons and exotic plants

Pukeiti hosts one of the world’s biggest and most diverse collections of rhododendrons and other exotics, creating an explosion of colour among lush, native rainforest and mountain streams.

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The Rainforest Centre

The Rainforest Centre sits at the entrance to Pukeiti and features a multi-media interpretation area, function space and direct access to covered areas housing the largest public display of vireya rhododendrons in the world.

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The Rainforest Centre

The Rainforest Centre sits at the entrance to Pukeiti and features a multi-media interpretation area, function space and direct access to covered areas housing the largest public display of vireya rhododendrons in the world.

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The Founders Café

The Founders Café is open seven days for lunches, coffee and snacks from September until the end of March (except Christmas Day). It is a place where visitors can relax and enjoy panoramic views across the garden.

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Garden walks

Pukeiti offers a range of garden walks from 45 minutes to two hours. This includes the Rhododendron Stroll (45 minutes), Valley of the Giants Walk (60 minutes), and the Puke Te Whiti Trail (two hours).

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Garden walks image

Garden walks

Pukeiti offers a range of garden walks from 45 minutes to two hours. This includes the Rhododendron Stroll (45 minutes), Valley of the Giants Walk (60 minutes), and the Puke Te Whiti Trail (two hours).

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The Treehouse Trail adventure challenge

The Treehouse Trail adventure challenge is a free self-guided activity through the gardens using an activity satchel which can be collected from the Founders Café any day of the week between 10am and 3pm.

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Mobility vehicle tours

For those who are less-able to walk around the garden, mobility vehicle tours are run at 11am and 11.30am on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

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Mobility vehicle tours

For those who are less-able to walk around the garden, mobility vehicle tours are run at 11am and 11.30am on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

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Rainforest tracks

For thousands of years, Pukeiti was unspoiled virgin rainforest. Most of the rimu were removed in a decade during logging in the 1920s. Afterwards, some areas remained forested while others were used for pasture or pine plantations.

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Plant Hunters Station

Use our Plant Hunter’s Station to find out about the plants at Pukeiti. Our database includes all of the garden plants, as well as many New Zealand rainforest plants which occur naturally at Pukeiti.

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Plant Hunters Station

Use our Plant Hunter’s Station to find out about the plants at Pukeiti. Our database includes all of the garden plants, as well as many New Zealand rainforest plants which occur naturally at Pukeiti.

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The Rainforest School

The Rainforest School is a study unit developed by the Taranaki Regional Council outlining the activities available for teachers and classes visiting Pukeiti.

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The History of Pukeiti

Pukeiti was founded by William Douglas Cook, who had a vision to create a vast natural garden of rhododendrons. With help from Russell Matthews, original owner and developer of Tūpare in New Plymouth, he found a bush block on Upper Carrington Road for sale in March 1950.

As Douglas walked through the 153.5-acre (65ha) block of bush, he was blown away by the filmy ferns and luscious landscape, as well as the views which included the surfbound coast, North Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu. He was also attracted to the clean and healthy looking rhododendrons which were still thriving despite being in an old and neglected garden. “One walk through is enough,” he said, and that night he located the owner and bought the property.

Cook donated the block to the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust and work soon started on developing the property. The official opening took place on Thursday 1 November 1951, when the gates were opened to visitors who walked from the shack right through to the summit along the bush track and partly formed road.

The physical ‘gut-busting’ work that people endured in Pukeiti’s early days were tempered by a ‘bush’ camaraderie, topped up with gallons of tea. Everyone shared the understanding that each task that was completed was one step further towards the realisation of a collective dream.

Today, thanks to hard work through the decades, Cook’s vision is a reality. This work set a strong foundation for efforts that continued through decades, resulting in a unique property known all over the world as a unique temperate rainforest garden.