Eastwoodhill Arboretum was the life’s work of its creator, William Douglas Cook, who came to Gisborne district in 1910 to take up 250 hectares of farm land from the Ngatapa subdivision.

Although Douglas Cook started out as a farmer his ambition was to plant trees and, over the next fifty five years spent at Eastwoodhill, he estimated he brought in about 5,000 different species and cultivars of trees and shrubs creating the largest collection of Northern Hemisphere trees and shrubs in the Southern Hemisphere.

William Douglas Cook


1910 Bought 250ha of farm land from the Ngatapa subdivision, which he named “Eastwoodhill” after the Miller family home in Thornliebank, near Glasgow. Flowers, orchids and woodlots were planted.

1914 Sent to war in Egypt and France but was injured and sent to England to recuperate. Was inspired by the beautiful parks and gardens he saw there and modelled Eastwoodhill on those he saw in England.

1918 First arboretum plantings were made, mainly woodlots and shelter belts. Poplar Avenue planted along main entrance drive.

1927 Cook began ‘serious’ planting of the park from about 1927 onwards, intending to collect a wide range of material. Corner Park planted up. Bill Crooks began working for Douglas Cook.

1930 Married Claire Bourne. Original homestead burnt down.

1933 Adopted Sholto Douglas Cook.

1936 Claire and Douglas Cook visit England.

1934-37 Cabin Park planted.

1937 Claire and Douglas Cook separate and Claire moves to Auckland.


1945 Douglas Park planted.

1950 Found and bought land for Pukeiti and with Russell Mathews establish Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust.

1950s Pear Park, Circus and Orchard Hill planted.

1960 Glen Douglas planted.

1965 Eastwoodhill sold to H.B. (Bill) Williams.

1967 Douglas Cook died April 27th 1967.

1970 It was decided that Eastwoodhill be established as a trust, and after considerable work, a private members bill was put to Parliament. Bob Berry (from Hackfalls) begins cataloguing the collection at Eastwoodhill.

1974 Dan and Molly Weatherall employed as farm manager.

1975 The Eastwoodhill Trust Act (1975) was passed and the Eastwoodhill Trust Board formed.

1978 Eastwoodhill awarded, ‘Arboretum Distinguished for Merit’ by The International Dendrology Society. The first such award by the IDS.


1982 Kevin Boyce employed as Eastwoodhill’s first Curator.

1984 Formation of Garden volunteers to look after the Homestead Garden.

1985 Garry Clapperton appointed second Curator of Eastwoodhill.

1991 Douglas Cook Centre for Ornamental Plant Studies built.

1992 Gordon Collier, of Titoki Point appointed as Garden Advisor to develop planting plan for the Homestead Garden.

1998 Accommodation wing built for Douglas Cook Centre.

2000 Millennial Wood planted up for the year 2000 celebrations.

2002 Paul Wynen employed as third Curator of Eastwoodhill.

2003 Visitor Centre built to accommodate increased visitor numbers.

2015 Xanthe White appointed as Garden Advisor.