I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published April 5th 2012
The Osawano Japanese Gardens are a slice of Japan located on the Mitchell Highway just south of Wellington. Beautifully designed, you can spend ages wandering the paths and exploring all the secrets of this 6000 square metre area. There is a surprise around every corner.
A key feature of the garden is water, an important element for many Japanese Gardens. This garden follows tradition with a miniature pond, linked by a meandering, rocky stream to a waterfall nestled within rocks and trees.
An open pavilion overlooks the fish-filled pond, while rocks and gravel are included as ying to the water's yang. The arrangement is like a miniature paradise that seems almost too perfectly put-together. Hedges are trimmed, lawns mowed, not a leaf disrupting the peace.
On the left-hand side of the garden stands the Thirteen Storey Tower, a stone lantern tower donated by firms in Osawano for Wellington's prosperity (it stands 4.5 metres tall too, not thirteen stories!).
There are over 1500 plants throughout the garden, including both exotic and Australian species. When I visited during early summer the palette was heavy with reds and greens, complimenting the earthy colours of the man-made features of the garden in a way we don't often get to see in Australia, with our eternally grey-green bush.
Hedges and leafy archways dot the path, but learn from my mistake and skip those sections in flower. Distracted by my surroundings I ventured into one heavily hedged area and found myself surrounded by bees! Best to cut across the grass for these parts.
These Japanese Gardens stem from a $270 000 gift from Wellington's Japanese sister city Osawano. The town has used the money to create an unexpected treasure that sets a touch of Japan against the backdrop of a starkly different—but no less beautiful—Hunter Valley.