Wild and exciting adventures are awaiting children in a magical jungle-inspired garden in Taranaki’s rugged backcountry.
The Taranaki Garden Festival’s “Let’s Go on Safari,” nestled within the mystical woodlands of Te Popo Garden near Stratford, is specially created with the kids in mind.
“It’s all about getting families involved,” festival manager Tetsu Garnett says.
Each day of the festival, the children can take you on an exotic safari animal hunt within Te Popo to search out the life-sized and life-like hand-made bronze sculptures of iconic African animals hidden alongside the trails.
African beasts, such as the mighty lion, a lofty giraffe and even a crocodile taking a drink from the river, can be spied through the sweeping native and exotic forests. Enhancing the 45-minute safari expedition are extensive bush trails, the dramatic river gorge, and a 30m suspension bridge.
Te Popo Gardens and Accommodation owners Amanda and Les Heynie have been in the festival for the last three years after purchasing the 13-hectare property through which runs the Ahuroa stream.
The couple imported the animals from South Africa after discovering them at a street vendor’s stall in Johannesburg.
“We bought 17 and we are in the process of getting more,” Amanda says. “They are very realistic and I think the grown ups just love them too.”
After their safari adventure, kiddies will be rewarded with an ice cream. The event is free with adults paying only the cost of a ticket ($5) for admission. Children under 12 are free throughout all the festival gardens.
At Te Popo while prams are welcomed, you will need to take care on the paths and walkways.
These idyllic gardens are open each day during the festival and garden-lovers and families are welcome to book into the Te Popo Garden’s accommodation and campsite. The beautiful gardens, open until 6pm, would make the perfect backdrop for a family picnic. Amanda says the perfect picnic spot is just across the bridge.
In addition, as part of the festival’s new Art in Gardens, artist Janet Marshall will be painting within these spectacular gardens and will have artwork and gift pieces to purchase.
Te Popo Gardens and Accommodation is just 15 minutes’ drive from Stratford at 636 Stanley Rd, Stratford.