Taranaki's title of the Garden of New Zealand dotes back to the region's earliest marketing material.
Pre-European Maori battled for the best land to garden, and early Europeans settlers ambitiously fought the native bush to establish their own crops and gardens.
As the province grew, so did the amount and diversity of public space that was developed for parks and gardens. At the same time, many private gardens of significance blossomed, importing and breeding plants and growing a strong network regionally and nationally.
The feature plants are, of course, the rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, and a huge range of trees, shrubs and perennials complement these. Taranaki's prominence as a garden destination stems from its free-draining volcanic ash soil, reliable rainfall and temperate climate. While picture-perfect Mt Taranaki has undoubtedly got a hand in these factors, the real heroes in the evolution of Taranaki's gardens are the gardeners themselves.
From insightful town planners to passionate weekend warriors, Taranaki's amazing range of gardens owes much to these green-fingered visionaries, both past and present.
As a result of the fertile landscape and gifted gardeners, Taranaki today has many parks and gardens worthy of celebration. This guide assembles many of the best, and the region's garden festivals present many more opportunities to get out there and discover a Taranaki garden experience like no other.