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New lake vista … The Hurunui Garden Festival will provide a chance to view Lake Rebekah, formed after the 2016 earthquake. Photo: Supplied

By Robyn Bristow

More gardens, a self-driven tour off the beaten track, a bus trip, events and exhibitions will all feature in the 2019 Hurunui Garden Festival.

Six new garden owners have joined the festival, which will run from November 1-3.

Building on last year’s success, festival organising committee chairwoman Marina Shearer says the 2019 festival offers visitors more reasons to stay in the Hurunui district and make a weekend of the event.

Along with the six new gardens, the self-drive tour will feature three gardens.

“Visitors told us last year how much they liked the eclectic mixture of town and country gardens, so we’re adding gardens in Hanmer Springs, in the remote Kaiwara Valley, and on farms around Culverden.

“Many of these gardens have never been opened to the public, so we feel really privileged to be able to share them with garden lovers from Canterbury and New Zealand.”

All 23 gardens in this year’s festival will open from 9am to 5pm from Friday to Sunday during the festival. Tickets cost $10 and can be pre-purchased from the Festival website, hurunuigardenfestival.com, or visitors can pay cash at the garden gate on the day.

Marina says the self-drive Hidden Gems in the Lowry Hills tour will appeal to garden lovers who want an adventure off the beaten track.

“This year we will offer a self-drive tour through the striking scenery of the Lowry Hills, over a mountain pass, down river valleys with native bush and rocky outcrops, visiting three magical gardens,” she says.

“The Hidden Gems tour will be an unforgettable day out for visitors, with breath-taking views along the journey and our garden owners providing a warm welcome and refreshments at each stop along the tour.”

The tour starts with morning tea at Wynyard, with its fabulous native garden, over the Lowry Hills to Black Rock for lunch in its garden of rare and unusual perennials, and then to Ribbonwood for wine and cheese on the terrace, with views of the Kaikoura Mountains. There’s just one tour each day of the festival, strictly limited to 50 people.

Delightful outlook .. Waihui Garden will be part of the self-drive hidden gems tour in the Lowry Hills. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Tickets must be purchased in advance. They cost $95 per person, which includes morning tea, lunch, wine and cheese, and entry to all three gardens. Tickets are available from the festival website.

Marina says there is excitement over a bus tour of the world-renowned Woodchester Station, home to the celebrated “Wall of Waiau” and “Lake Rebekah”, created by the Waiau earthquake.

“We’re delighted to offer visitors the Walls and Waterfalls bus tour of Woodchester Station, with its phenomenal earthquake features and extraordinary rhododendron garden,” Marina says.

“Rebekah Kelly, whose family celebrate a century of continuous family ownership, has agreed to show visitors around her family farm, including the Wall of Waiau and Lake Rebekah.

“We think visitors will find seeing the impact of the earthquakes an unforgettable experience.”

The Woodchester Walls and Waterfalls tour includes lunch in the garden. There is just one bus tour each day of the festival, limited to 40 visitors. Tickets, at $95 each, must be purchased in advance from the website. The price includes the bus trip, lunch and entry to the station.

There is information about the gardens and the tours on the festival website, along with a schedule of events, including exhibitions, talks and demonstrations.

The festival will open with a cocktail party on Friday, November 1, at 5pm at Flaxmere Garden. The guest speakers are Wolfgang Bopp, the director of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and Dr Janet Cubey, editor-in-chief of the Royal Horticultural Society Plant Finder.

The cocktail party is a limited-attendance event. Tickets, at $30 each, must be bought in advance from the festival website.

“We’re really thrilled to be back for a second year, with a bigger and better festival,” Marina says.