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Tags : Garden & Park

Timings : 7:30 AM - 5:00 AM

Time Required : 1-2 hr

Entry Fee : No entry fee

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Otari-Wilton, Wellington Overview

Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve is also known as Otari-Wilton's Bush. Located in Wellington, it is the only public garden in New Zealand. This 100-hectare forest consists of some of the oldest trees, including an 800-year-old Rimu. Otari–Wilton's Bush is now classified as a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust as it aims to save and preserve New Zealand's rarest species of flora and fauna.

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Otari-Wilton’s Bush was built by Job Wilton in the 1860s. The forest was looked after by Wilton’s family for 40 years. The Willington City Council concluded it as a reserve in the year 1906. The gardens were opened to the public from 1926 onwards and were known as Otari Plant Museum. The name Otari means ‘Place of Snare’ in Maori. Maori have had a strong connection with Otari for a long time. The area was used as a source to collect food. It was also used for hunting and collecting timber.

Educational Trip

A lot of schools get their students to Otari-Wilton’s Bush to explore and learn about the unique flora and fauna. The plant collections are labelled so visitors can learn about the use and cultivation of native plants. The school must book for a visit in advance. The reserve provides an Educational kit to the teachers and students. The kit contains in detail information about Otari-Wilton’s Bush. The students must be instructed to keep the reserve clean, take care of the plants and not to walk on the gardens and rocks.


Volunteering at Otari-Wilton’s Bush is a great way to learn about the rare flora and fauna in the reserve. Volunteers can help in different ways based on the time and effort they are willing to contribute. Volunteers can be hosts or guides. As hosts, the volunteers must briefly inform the visitors about the Otari-Wilton’s Bush, events and public transportation facilities. As guides, the volunteers must provide one complete organized tour in a month and also during specialized tours.


The 11km walking track is completely surrounded by a variety of unique plants. There are different trails in this track that can be taken and are based on the time taken to cover the track such as, Natures trail (20-40 minutes), Blue Trail (1 hour), Yellow Trail (30 minutes), Kaiwharawhara Track (30 minutes) and many more.

The 800-year-old Rimu

Rimu is the oldest tree present in this reserve. This is a huge tree that grows 25 millimetres every once in 10 years. It will reach up to 60 meters high and is known as an emergent tree, which means it sticks out of the top of the layers of trees.

Some interesting facts

1. Otari-Wilton’s Bush contains the biggest and oldest original forest
in Wellington City.
2. Job Wilton fenced off seven hectares of native forest in 1860.
3. Only some parts of the forest have grown and regenerated in this area. Most of the forest at Otari-Wilton’s Bush has been regenerating for more than 100 years.
4. Otari-Wilton’s Bush has the largest collection of New Zealand plants in the world, over 1,200 to 1,400 different species.
5. Nearly half of New Zealand’s rarest species which are at risk are growing here.
6. Nowadays, because of the vigilance of staff and volunteers here,
you’ll only occasionally find a possum.
7. You can plant native trees in your area.
8. The reserve now has over 50 environmental community groups
in Wellington City.

Important Information

  • Visitors are allowed to get their dogs to this reserve but on a condition that they must be on a leash at all times.
  • Wheelchairs can be accessed from the main car parking to the Information Centre.
  • Guided tours are available for all the visitors at 5 NZD per head.
  • Permission for photography inside the reserve must be taken in advance.

How To Reach Otari-Wilton's Bush

Otari-Wilton’s Bush is located just 5 mins from the Wellington city centre. One can easily travel by car or No 14 Wilton bus from Lambton Quay can also be taken to reach the reserve. A car parking space is available.

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