Whitford is a country town and rural area south of Auckland at the start of the Pohutukawa Coast. It includes stunning verdant farmland and lush native forests. Ayrlies Garden and Huntingwood Gardens are two popular local attractions.

We'll make an early start from Tauranga, stopping at Ngatea for morning tea en route, before visiting Huntingwood Gardens.

Lunch will be enjoyed at John Hill Estate Vineyard before we move to our second garden venue, Ayrlies Gardens. Then we'll wend our way home.

Huntingwood Gardens

The owners of this medium-size country garden moved here in 2008 after owning Wentworth Gardens on Ormiston Road for many years. They discovered Huntingwood, a Tudor-style Hinuera-stone home on 2 hectares & decided it was ideal for their next venture.

Doreen Follas has commneted:

" My favourite programme on television is Escape to the Country. I love English architecture, I love English country-side, I love English gardens, and I thought this was the nearest thing I would get to it."

On arrival, they did some major garden renovations, although the bones & a lot of structure were retained. They moved many favourites to the new garden, with almost 100% success rate.

Doreen, at 77 year's old does most of the work. This includes mowing the extensive lawns, planting trees & maintaining the topiary & formal parterres. Over 100 trees have been planted - magnolias, ginkos, liriodendron,, maples - and an orchard established with plums, figs, citrus, quince persimmon, pears & apple. Vibrantly-coloured flower beds are filled with irises, day-lilies, roses & old-fashioned perennials.

Ayrlies garden

“The garden evolved out of a desire to create a larger informal country garden, reminiscent of the homestead gardens of my Hawkes Bay childhood; a garden where the contours of the land dictated the shape; a garden where there was space for larger trees grown in family groups; a seasonal garden where the challenge is still to have some plant or vista at its best every week of the year; a garden where still ponds and cascades of water create a sense of tranquility; a garden filled with moments of drama and lots of heady perfume.”

Beverley McConnell,

The garden covers approximately 4 hectares of rolling terrain, with large lawns, ponds and waterfalls. Informal borders incorporate a detailed use of plant textures and colour. Some areas feature roses, clematis and perennials; others contain lush, sub-tropical plants, such as Petrea, Alocasia, bromeliads, vireya rhododendrons and Ficus dammaropsis. There are also many large trees – mostly liquidambar, swamp cypress and pin oak – which have grown rapidly in the warm wet climate.

After 50 years the garden is nearing maturity. Views to the Hauraki Gulf and within the garden are preserved with careful arboriculture & a large wetland area links the garden to the sea.

We were a little worried that February might not be a good time to see the gardens but, on enquiry, received the following reply:

"February is a hot summer month - but the Garden at Ayrlies is irrigated so I am sure you will not be disappointed if you visit then. Bev (the Owner of Ayrlies) planned the garden so that there is always something of interest to see throughout the year."

Lunch at John Hill Estate

John Hill Estate is a boutique, family-run vineyard and restaurant set amongst beautifully-landscaped grounds in the Hunua Ranges.

We'll enjoy lunch at this venue, before heading to our second garden. Lunch is at your own cost. The menu caters for every taste; one can have a choice ranging from tea/coffee & a small meal to a 3-course meal with wine. We were going to include a Set Menu with the trip but realised that some clients wouldn't want a large meal before walking around the second garden. If you're anything like us, after a large mid-day meal all we want to do is sleep!


COST: Door-to-door transport from Tauranga,/Mt Maunganui/ early Papamoa and garden entry costs: $94.00pp.

Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are at your own cost.

(You can pay us in cash on the day in an envelope with your name on it or pay prior to the day into account: 01 03220214423 00)