Bason Botanic Gardens, WHANGANUI

How is it that I’ve lived in Whanganui for 7.5years, been to Bason Reserve a number of times, and YET this is the first time I’ve actually done this walk?

We were inspired to do this walk today, Matariki observed (Friday 14 July, 2023), as we have recently decided that we should do a *new to us* nature walk/hike on public holidays and we had heard they had just unveiled a new Ivan Vostinsr sculpture on the lakeside trail.

This website is amazing and will tell you everything (and more) you never thought you wanted to know about the garden: Bason Botanic Gardens

Track Facts:

  • There are a number of trail options of varying lengths (see map) and difficulty.
  • We did a 3.2km trying to hit most of the paths available (see my map from Strava for our route)
  • 45 minutes
  • Kid friendly (you could use the pram/stroller on the lakeside trails and around the sealed roads) just be mindful of cars as some of the tracks cross/ come close to roads (although the cars should be going very slowly)
  • No dogs
Summer whanau picnic at Bason
Summer whanau picnic at Bason Reserve

Getting There:

Bason Botanic Gardens/Bason Reserve is a 15 minute drive north of Whanganui on Rapanui Road.

(This walk is on the same road as Westmere Lake, just a little further. This is another great short walk in Whanganui)

Heading north out of Whanganui on State Highway 3 you turn left at the Caltex/Pukeko Nest Cafe just after you’ve left town. There is a sign at this intersection for Kai Iwi Beach (another great Whanganui spot). The re Sever is on your right, about 5.5km down this road. There are big signs and an obvious entrance so you won’t miss it 🙂

Park at the top Carpark, or if you don’t want to walk up and down the hill, continue to drive down to the bottom and park near the lake / large picnic area.

The Walk:

Bason Botanic Gardens is the old home of the Bason family. Purchased by John and Mary in 1900 it became the family run farm. They adopted a son, Stanley, who was a lover of nature and married Blanche and together they developed the homestead garden. In 1966 the family donated the property to the Whanganui City Council for the development of a Botanical reserve, a continuation of Stanley’s love of nature and garden works.

The Millennium Hill steps
The native forest bridge
The wetlands boardwalk

The reserve is still a work-in-progress, as all good gardens are. There are plenty of amazing walks, BBQs, a frisbee golf course and room for lots of activities (we have an annual church picnic here and there’s plenty of room for everyone to picnic, have a big game of soccer and a few other games going all at once)

For our walk on this day, we looped the following walks together; The steps in Millennium Hill, Lakeside Trail, up the road to Spring Walk, Bush Walk, then the orange trail up to the homestead and observatories.

My favourite thing about this walk were the sculptures, of which there were several. Pictured below are some that caught my eye, in the order in which we came across them

Round and Around by Steuart Welch

This sculpture is at the top of Millennium Hill, just as you get to the top of the steps. It was installed in 2009 and is a spiral artwork made of steel.

Villa Rustica by Paul Johnson and Gail Mason

This structure is at the bottom of the Millennium steps and is very captivating. It depicts the Whanganui Awa and the Parapara hills, and was installed in 2015.

How Do I Relate With Nature/Wahakore Tika by Ivan Vostinar

This sculpture was the reason we wanted to come here and do this walk, as it has recently been completed along with the lakeside trail. This sculpture is located at the high point on the northern side of the lake. There is a seat nearby, with a magnificent view of the lake, dedicated to Kathleen Goldstone, which was part of the commissioned work by Ivan.

Homestead Entrance Archway by Isthmus Group

Competed in 2015, this amazing archway has a delightful quote by Stanley Bason engraved on it.

“Through the trouble of this word there still runs a thin stream of serenity for those who seek it”

You’ll find it in the top part of the gardens at the end of the pathway lined with great big palm trees. Walk through it to find the beautiful homestead and delicious herb gardens.

Delphinium by Fraser Hubert Moreton

This sculpture is of a stylised New Millennium Delphinium, which is a hybrid, and is located on the main road into the garden, near the walkways to the conservatories and the homestead entrance.

This carving (Scoular Room Sculpture ) by RM Bartlett

The date on this carving is 1993. I couldn’t find much more info about it.

Another great thing about this walk is that it has a surprising variety of environments to explore (a lake, daffodil field, native forest, rhododendron dell, fern house, wetlands, Japanese tea garden, herb garden, orchid house, and a winter garden!!)

We will definitely be back here (probably a lot) for picnics, exploring, frisbee and other lawn games.

Happy hiking and exploring and picnicking



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