The twin halls of the Domain
Wintergardens – one tropical the other temperate – wouldn’t rate as a major
highlight, but get the nod for their proximity to Auckland Museum just
up the hill. The peaceful, barrel-vaulted glasshouses and the sunken fishpond
between them make a nice break from the usual hubbub of the museum. The complex
wasn’t built until after World War I but its roots go back to the antics of the
Auckland Acclimatisation Society who established a nursery here to propagate plants
which were then distributed around the region to make New Zealand as much like
Britain as they could make it. They picked the site for the springs which originally
provided the fledgling city with water and now fill the adjacent duck ponds.
A small former quarry next to the glass houses has been replanted
as the Fernz Fernery, a shady dell
dripping with over a hundred species of ferns, including the tree ferns that
New Zealand excels in.