Before moving to Wellington, I googled anything and everything I could find
about it. Most results were images of a place called Otari Wilton’s Bush— home to native New Zealand plants, trees, and birds. I knew then it would be a top place I’d have to visit.

Four years on, I haven’t been disappointed, escaping to its canopy of ferns at least every other week if not more. It’s one of my favourite Wellington locations and every time I go, I spot something new.

Upon entering a section of endangered plants, Tāne Mahuta welcomes a release of my mana, the forest taking care of me whilst visiting. I soak in the view overlooking the hillsides of Mount Kaukau. Bright red kākābeak flowers add a nice pop of colour to the Cockayne open area.

Troup picnic area, next to a stream and apparently home to a rather large eel that I have yet to see, provides two barbeques for public use (but not for cooking eel. Probably best not to fish and just use them for a sausage sizzle instead).

Just over the bridge and up a steep path a bit there’s an 800-year- old Rimu tree (33 metres tall!). This Rimu has been holding my secrets for four years now… considering it’s 800, it is probably the best secret-holder of all time.

There’s also a 400-year- old Rimu and small waterfall off the circular path if you’re lucky enough to find them.

With at least six main trails, I have yet to explore all of them within the botanic garden. The circular walk is the main track that takes about 30 minutes, if on the clock. I like to take my time and mosey my way through, stopping to read several signs posted throughout the bush to help an expat like me identify the Hīnau, Tawa, Ponga, and Rimus of the forest.

There are heaps of adventure activities for kids to do, too with a downloadable find-and- seek sort of map complete with facts that can help slow down the pace if preferred.

Kererū and Tūi offer a sweet soundtrack as I trek along the dirt trails; so don’t forget to look up amongst the trees to spot them! I promise the loud flapping noise is just Kererū taking flight, and not a large bat about to attack.

Moss dresses the rock formations and tree trunks along the path; vines curl and droop from one to the next (hello, Tarzan!), and the smell of earth fills the senses.

There’s no question this is one of Wellington’s top treasures. It isn’t one to miss.

And like I said, every time, I spot something new. Hopefully next time I’ll spot you.

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