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We’re delighted to announce two tours for 2019. Hidden Gems in the Lowry Hills is a self-drive tour through the Lowry Hills to visit three gardens. Woodchester Walls and Waterfalls is a bus tour to see the Wall of Waiau and Lake Rebekah on Woodchester Station. Read on for more information or book your tickets here

Hidden Gems in the Lowry Hills

This is an exciting self-drive tour of three beautiful gardens. Starting with morning tea at 10am at Wynyard, you’ll travel through contrasting scenery to Black Rock for lunch at 12pm, and then on to Ribbonwood for wine and cheese from 3pm.

The hidden gems begin before you reach Wynyard. Turning from St Leonards Road onto Lowry Peaks Road, to the west you’ll see vast numbers of oak trees, many planted over 120 years ago. At Wynyard while you enjoy morning tea from 10am until 11am take a look at the outstanding native garden. Many of the plants were gathered from the Lowry Hills. Wander through 2 hectares of grounds with 50 different varieties of deciduous and evergreen trees.

From Wynyard at the junction with Kaiwara Road turn left and head east into the hills. A brief climb rewards you with spectacular views over the Amuri Plain. The road winds down the valley past native bush and rocky outcrops shaped by years of erosion.

Arriving at Black Rock, lunch is served from 12pm to 2pm in the colourful garden of rare and unusual perennials, roses, peonies, tulips and irises. Lunch includes Pork and Chicken Terrine, Spinach Roulade (Salmon or Vegetarian), and 3 salads, with homemade lemonade, followed by tea and coffee and sweet slices.

From Black Rock take the road north (turning left onto Eggleston Road) and drive through the scenic Lowry Hills. At Leamington turn right onto Munro Road (sealed) and head east towards Cheviot. After crossing the main trunk railway line, turn left onto Cheviot Heights Road and arrive at Ribbonwood.

The owners of Ribbonwood make their own cheeses – Camembert, Cheddar, Cow Feta, Parmesan and Ricotta. Served with crackers, crusty bread and a selection of wines, they complement the magnificent views to the north of Mt Parnassus and the Kaikoura mountains.

There is only one tour each day of the Festival limited to a maximum of 50 visitors. The tour includes entry to the gardens, morning tea, lunch, wine and cheese and costs $95 per person.

Tickets must be purchased in advance so book your tickets here now. While 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended they are not essential.

Daily Schedule for tour
  • 10am Wynyard – morning tea
  • 11am Depart for Black Rock (self-drive)
  • 12pm Black Rock – lunch until 2pm
  • 2pm Depart for Ribbonwood
  • 3pm Ribbonwood – wine and cheese


Alternative tour route: Visitors may wish to visit the other Cheviot gardens before enjoying wine and cheese at Ribbonwood. Refer to the Cheviot cluster map for directions to reach Cathedral Cliffs and the Hurunui Natives Nursery. It costs $10 to enter each of these gardens.

Woodchester Walls and Waterfalls – a special Centenary Tour

Woodchester Station’, a high country farm inland from the town of Waiau, shot to fame when the 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes created the spectacular ‘Wall of Waiau’ and caused a massive landslide that dammed the Leader River to create the kilometre-long ‘Lake Rebekah’. Pictures were seen on television and online in New Zealand and the world.

By special arrangement with the Gardiner-Kelly family, to celebrate a century of continuous family ownership, the Hurunui Garden Festival is delighted to offer visitors a rare opportunity to visit ‘Woodchester Station’ on a specially guided tour.

Station owner Rebekah Kelly guides visitors to the ‘Wall of Waiau’ and to ‘Lake Rebekah’ explaining the massive forces that tore apart her family farm. Rebekah outlines her family’s farming history over the past 100 years at ‘Woodchester Station’. Her grandmother spent half a century creating a hillside garden of over 100 rhododendrons, protected by a canopy of pine, beech and eucalyptus trees and under-planted with maples, camellias, hydrangeas, hostas and ferns. The garden is a triumph in a harsh environment where summer temperatures exceed 40 degrees. Lunch is served in the garden, where visitors are welcome to sit in the shade or climb to the pinetum at the top of the hillside with views over the Leader River basin to the Kaikoura mountains.

There is one tour only each day of the Festival limited to a maximum of 40 visitors. The tour, which includes lunch and transport by bus departing daily from iSITE Hanmer Springs at 9am and Waiau (outside the Memorial Hall) at 10am costs $95 per person. The bus returns to Waiau at 2pm and Hanmer Springs at 3pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance so book your tickets here now. Visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunhats and sunscreen.