Pukekura Park

New Plymouth, New Zealand

The town of New Plymouth sits on the west coast of the North Island, it's about 4 hours driving distance from Auckland and 4 hours to Wellington. One of the town's main attractions is Pukekura Park. The park was established as a recreation ground in 1876, I love the fact that European settlers would try and replicate what they had left behind in the old country and bring it to the new one. The New Zealand climate, with plenty of rainfall, is perfect for British style gardens.

By 1907 the recreation ground had be renamed Pukekura Park as Pukekura was the name of the stream that had been dammed to create the pond. The park was a centre for the town's leisure activities and a tea house was opened in 1931. It's since been restored to its art deco glory and is still a tea house.

The park has been added to over the years and is now 52ha which includes a cricket oval, a stage area where WOMAD is held each year, a small zoo, a children's playground as well as walking paths and themed areas.

I really liked this sculpture in the lilypond, I liked the reflections in the water. A bit of research tells me that the artist who created this sculpture is Michael Smither and it's called Aoterea (the Maori name for New Zealand)

I just called this 'The Red Bridge' put apparently it's called 'Poet's Bridge', the original one was put in place in the 1880s and had to be replaced just before World War II as it had deteriorated badly. It reminded me of bridges in Japanese gardens and sure enough my research tells me that it's based on the red lacquer bridges of Nikko, in Japan! 

The fountain is the Queen Elizabeth II fountain commemorating her visit in 1955. The white spheres are part of the Festival of Light that is held in the park each year from December to February.

The huge ferns kept amazing me, they looked like palm trees!

This enormous fireplace belonged to Captain King's home, at the back is the oven. The house was built in the 1840s and was burnt down during the Maori wars of 1860.

This quaint chocolate box house is called The Gables, it's now used as an art gallery. It was originally built as a Colonial Hospital in 1847 to provide health care to the indigenous population. By 1907 the now derelict building was moved from its original site to where it is currently and was converted to a family home. In 1934 the house was gifted to the local council, it extensively restored in the mid 1980s and converted to an art gallery.

The park has themed areas, this is the Kunming Garden, the materials for the Chinese structures in this garden were imported from New Plymouth's sister city Kunming. The pavilion was made onsite by Chinese craftsmen and it was constructed without the use of power tools, nails or screws.

This Japanese Torii was a gift from New Plymouth's Japanese sister city Mishima.

From a distance this waterfall looks quite real, but it's all manmade!

The original waterwheel came from a local diary factory and was placed in the park as a centenary project in 1976, but was later replaced with this replica.

The park is a lovely way to spend a few hours and the New Plymouth Regional Council has a really good website that gives information on the different features to be found there.