This page looks at the establishment of Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
For the recreation and enjoyment of the public
The establishment of Town Reserves, Hagley Park and the Government Domain (now the Botanic Gardens) was included as part of the Canterbury Association’s plan for the settlement of Christchurch. Approximately 500 acres on the west of the central town area is shown as the site of Hagley Park in the famous 1850 Black Maps of Christchurch. Hagley Park was named after the country estate of Lord Lyttelton, chairman of the Canterbury Association.
In 1855 when the new Provincial Government took over the role of the Canterbury Association, a law was passed which said that,
the land commonly known as Hagley Park, shall be reserved forever as a public park, and shall be open for the recreation and enjoyment of the public.
Enoch Barker came to Christchurch as government gardener. He supplied gravel from the reserves to help build roads and set up a nursery. On 9 July 1863, he planted the first tree in the Government Domain. It was known as the Albert Edward oak and was planted to mark the marriage of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
Hagley Park is host to many festivals such as Summertimes, including Sparks concerts.
For more information visit what’s on at the Botanic Gardens.
1882 International Industrial Exhibition held in South Hagley Park. Acclimatisation Gardens formally opened to public.
1897 Victoria Lake created in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
1901 Magnetic Observatory complex constructed in the domain. It is used by explorers Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton to calibrate their compasses before heading to Antarctica.
1906/1907 New Zealand International Exhibition held in North Hagley Park.
1910 The first domain fête held, attracting a crowd of between 20,000 and 25,000 visitors. First stage of James Young’s rose garden laid out.
1911 Peacock Fountain originally erected near the McDougall Art Gallery.
Peacock Fountain and lily pond, Botanic Gardens, Christchurch [192-?] CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0019
1914 Townend House conservatory opened.
1916 Albert Lake created.
1923 The Winter Garden conservatory (later Cuningham House) opened.
1926 Bandsmen’s Memorial Rotunda was officially opened.
The opening of the Bandsmens Memorial rotunda, Botanic Gardens, Christchurch [19 September 1926] CCL PhotoCD 8, IMG0068
1938 The gardens boast a large daffodil lawn which has been a popular place for family photographs for generations. The first Daffodil Sunday held in this year.
1938 The Cockayne Memorial Garden opened. This area of the New Zealand garden honours the botanist whose work introduced the study of plant ecology to New Zealand.
1955 Fern House opened.
1960 Garrick House conservatory opened which houses an extensive colleciton of cacti.
1967 Foweraker House conservatory opened.
1990 Kate Sheppard Memorial Walk created.
1996 The Peacock Fountain restored after going into storage in 1949.
1998 The kitchen garden beside the Curator’s House redesigned.
2006 The Peace Bell was unveiled in the gardens on 3 October.
2009 the Ellerslie International Flower Show held in Hagley Park for the first time.
2014 Christchurch Botanic Gardens won the 2014 Supreme Design Excellence Award at the Ellerslie International Flower Show with a horticultural exhibit called Burn after Reeding.
2014 Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, opened on April 14, by TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Designed by Patterson Associates the centre has a sawtooth roof echoing an industrial greenhouse design with sculptural panels on the walls and ceiling forming the dappled shade of a woodland canopy.
2014 Cuningham and Townend glasshouses re-opened in July after damage in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens visitor centre, Flickr, 2014-04-20-IMG_0108
Find more in our collection
Looking at the Botanic Gardens
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens on the Discovery Wall
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens heritage images
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens Flickr
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens DigitalNZ set
- Gordon M. Gee botanical illustrations
Looking at Hagley Park
- History of Hagley Park
- Hagley Park heritage images
- Hagley Park photos on Flickr
- Hagley Park DigitalNZ set
- Ordinances of the Canterbury Provincial Council, October 1855: 2. The Canterbury Association Reserves Ordinance 1855 [49KB PDF]
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens 150th anniversary information sheet [360KB PDF]
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens DigitalNZ
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens. A history and guide with information on hours, plantings and a tour map of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
- Hagley Park DigitalNZ
- Hagley Park plans. Christchurch City Council’s management plans.
- Hagley Park. Archives New Zealand’s online exhibition of documents important to the history of Hagley Park.
- A World Peace Bell for Christchurch, New Zealand a Christchurch City Council resource
- What is a World Peace Bell? New Zealand Chapter of the World Peace Bell
- Christchurch Botanic Garden Walking Guide
- Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre by Justine Harvey in Architecture New Zealand January 2015 (Issue 1)
- Search Papers Past for the Christchurch Botanic Gardens earlier called the Christchurch Domain
- Search Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre Plus