Our Spaces

Our Spaces

There are numerous beautiful spaces and gardens planted with distinct style throughout Eastwoodhill.

From Corner Park – the first dedicated area planted by Douglas Cook in 1927 – to the nationally significant Homestead Garden, and the most recent Millennial Wood and Fibonacci Spiral, there are great botanical discoveries to be made and picnic spots to be uncovered.

Maps of the walks and spaces at Eastwoodhill are available from the Visitors Centre.

Eastwoodhill Arboretum is recognised as a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust – the result of many years of hard work by volunteers and staff, particularly in the Homestead Garden.

The arboretum’s founder Douglas Cook began planting immediately after taking up this once scrubby block of land in 1910. In his first year Cook planted roses, bulbs, vegetables, orchards trees and some woodlots around his cottage and in Orchard Hill valley. Many seeds of trees and shrubs were also purchased and sown.

However, Cook’s progress was interrupted in 1914 by WWI. An order of 100 trees and shrubs and 100 rhododendrons and azaleas arrived a week before he was due to leave for a training camp with the Wellington Mounted Rifles and it was a rush to get these planted.

Cook served in the Middle East, Gallipoli, Egypt and France before being sent to Britain to recuperate from his war injuries. Here he admired the gardens of stately homes and was inspired to create an equally stunning garden at Eastwoodhill.

“I’d got the idea after staying with wealthy relatives and their friends, that I too could have lovely surroundings, even if I could never have a fine home and live as they did. That was the start of the park. A dignified park to drive through to my home, whatever its size,” said Douglas Cook, founder of Eastwoodhill Arboretum.

The present homestead was the third home on Eastwoodhill for Cook. The original house was burnt down and its replacement was built to Cook’s own design specifications in four stages.

In the mid 1930s, Douglas employed a bricklayer to lay many yards of brick retaining walls and free standing walls. A circular sundial feature and a set of Lutyens-inspired round steps were also laid.

Over the years, organisations such as the Youth Hostel Association, the National party and Save the Children were given permission to hold open days at Eastwoodhill and keep the profits. Tea was served on the homestead terrace and the public had an opportunity to explore the surrounding garden.

In the later years of Douglas Cook’s life and after his death, many parts of the arboretum were left neglected. Concerned about the deteriorating health of the Homestead Garden, four local women – Dawn Jefferd, Mary Bush, Robin McIldowie and Bev Bridge – formed a gardening group in 1984 and began the massive task of rejuvenating the garden.

In 1992 the Trust Board appointed Gordon Collier from Titoki Point to be responsible for the overall design of the Homestead Garden area and through Gordon’s input the garden has developed into a major attraction for the arboretum.

The Homestead Garden is 1.5 hectares, and extends from the Visitor Centre to the Homestead and across to the Black Gates.

What is a herbarium?

A herbarium is a collection of plant material preserved as a botanical record. Most of the collection consists of pressed and dried flowering plants, conifers and ferns which are mounted on stiff card. However, the collection also includes items that can’t be pressed such as cones, nuts, seeds, spikes, large thorns and seedpods.

The specimens are catalogued and stored in special cabinets arranged in a specific order for easy reference. With the correct care these herbarium specimens should keep without deteriorating for hundreds of years.

The collection

The Eastwoodhill Arboretum herbarium was set up initially with funds from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust in 1994, and is housed in the Douglas Cook Centre for education.

The herbarium was established to hold specimens of the wide variety of plant species grown in the arboretum. It is also a regional herbarium for plant material endemic to, or of significant botanical interest to, the East Coast region. The herbarium curator is working with the Department of Conservation to collect this material.

At present, there are 1800 mounted specimens in the herbarium.

Use of the herbarium

Educational groups can be arranged with Eastwoodhill Arboretum’s curator, Dan Halliday, to use material in the herbarium. He can also provide instruction on all aspects of herbarium curation such as collecting, pressing, mounting, and preserving specimens.

Interested botanists, students and plant lovers can also arrange to see the herbarium when they visit the arboretum by prior arrangement.

Eastwoodhill’s Fibonacci Spiral

Constructed in 2009 as a memorial to Mr H.B Williams (Bill), who purchased Eastwoodhill from Douglas Cook in 1965 with the sole intention to ‘preserve it for the future and for the enjoyment of all interested in horticulture.’ Bill established the Eastwoodhill Arboretum Trust in 1975, which effectively gifted the Arboretum to New Zealand, securing its future. Financial contributions from Bill and other Williams family trusts established the Eastwoodhill Endowment fund, which allows continued management and development of the park. Bill died in 2002, having secured Eastwoodhill’s future and fulfilling the dream of Douglas Cook.

The Spiral

Eastwoodhill’s Fibonacci Spiral is an example of the ancient mathematical theory. The squares which relate to Fibonacci numbers are visible at ground level and are what the spiral intersects as it expands from the centre. Follow the spiral as it expands from it’s central point out into the Arboretum.

After extensive planning by the Williams family and designed by Landscape Architect Sue Dick, construction of the Fibonacci Spiral began in March 2009, and was completed in November 2009. Stonemason Aaron Boyle used Basaltic Andersite, a volcanic rock from Rainbow Mountain near Rotorua, for the central part of the spiral, shaping the rock by hand. As the spiral expands, the rock used changes to Limestone rock which is known for its preservation of fossils. The wall of Limestone was constructed using a ‘drystack’ method, a European style of construction using no mortar.

At the centre of the spiral is a Granite ball feature. This solid 750kg ball, imported from China is suspended by water in a system which involves only 15psi water pressure. This suspension eliminates friction and allows the ball to be rotated and spun with very little effort.

Corner Park

Corner Park was planted from 1928 onwards and contains some of Douglas Cook’s earliest plantings, using mostly plant material bought from within New Zealand. This was Douglas Cook’s first major effort on the development of his ‘Park’. He envisaged the gardens he might create after seeing the great gardens in Britain during his recuperation in England during the First World War. The trees on the road edge about Corner Park were planted earlier in the 1920s, these included many plane trees and elm species, and extended from what

Pear Park

Pear Park was originally part of the early plantings of Douglas Cook, and included an orchard extending alongside Cabbage Tree Avenue and was further planted in the 1950s. It is a quiet part of the park with some wonderful specimens, including one of the tallest Fraxinus angustifolia in the world at just over 30m, and a large Quercus x ludoviciana.

Cabin Park

Cabin Park was Douglas Cook’s major extension of the garden in the mid 1930s. He set out a series of tracks up the hill at the north western end, and in 1936 built his ‘Canadian Cabin’ and planted material he thought was frost tender. Along the gullies in between the house garden and the Burma Road, he set out more extensive areas of conifers, planting groups of them for effect. The variety of material available from New Zealand nurseries was quite extensive and varied, some

Native Reserve

A relatively recent development, the Native Reserve takes in 2 hectares of natural regenerating bush in Cabin Park, and the 1979 plantings of native timber species undertaken by Forest Research Institute. These trees are well established now, and over the last few years the planting has expanded to include many species of native plants, trees, shrubs and climbers that will grow in the climatic conditions that exist in the district.

The Circus

The origin the name of this part of the arboretum goes back to before the mid 1920s. About 1927 the roads were metalled for the first time and winter access was available. Prior to this in the deep mud of winter, the only way to transport goods up to Rere and beyond to Wharekopae was with bullock teams. Douglas Cook let them camp in this area and his description of the noise, singing, drinking, cooking, animals etc was to call the whole thing a CIRCUS.

Orchard Hill

At only 5 hectares,  Orchard Hill is a small but important part of the arboretum. The coolness and part shade of the site influenced Douglas Cook to plant cool loving species there such as Picea, Ilex, and Abies. Planting in Orchard Hill began in the late 1950s. The Homestead Garden overlooks the lower basin, which was the original site of Cook’s orchard and cherry plantings. Later plantings of Magnolia and other spring flowering trees herald the start of spring each year.

The Pinetum

The Pinetum was established in the early 1990’s on a fairly harsh site, not suitable for much except pines. It now contains over 70 different species, subspecies and forms of Pinus. A steep walk to the top of Far Horizons gives some wonderful views north across the neighbouring farmland and to the back of the arboretum.

Douglas Park

In 1945 Douglas Cook and Bill Crooks decided to plant 10 hectares of land on what was to become Douglas Park. However, a lengthy drought followed and the whole planting failed. Douglas took it as a judgement and did not go back to replant until 1949. At this point the material from England had begun to arrive in quantity. Today the focal point of the valley is the marvellous collection of oak species around the main tracks that make up Douglas Park.

Glen Douglas

Douglas Cook originally put aside land in what is now called Glen Douglas to give to Rob Bayly, then curator of Pukeiti, to start a nursery venture which, due to lack of money, never eventuated. Most of Glen Douglas was planted in 1960-1961, and as with Douglas Park it has a strong theme of oaks alders and a Sorbus collection set amongst a series of ponds running down the valley.


The view from the top of Canaan, the highest point in the arboretum, extends up the East Coast to Mt Hikurangi and across to Te Urawera National Park to the west. In August 1985, a severe overnight rainstorm hit the Ngatapa area. Over 10 inches of rain fell. A major slip from the skyline ridge in Canaan descended and flowed right into Basinhead. Much plant material was lost in this area including a large lilac collection. At the top of Canaan is a poplar planting

Mexico Way

Mexico Way was planted in the late 1980s and 1990s and along with China Corner, is one of the few geographical collections at Eastwoodhill with trees from Central and Southern America. Many of these trees have been introduced by Bob Berry of Hackfalls Arboretum.


The Springfield garden was planted during the late 1980s – early 1990s, and includes a mixture of deciduous and evergreen material. The Green Walk winds its way around the Lagoon and up into Glen Douglas garden.

Millennial Wood

The Millennial Wood was established for the year 2000 celebrations, and is a way for people to contribute to the running of the arboretum and leave a permanent reminder. This 10ha area has been planted with over 1,000 trees that have historically thrived at Eastwoodhill and provide good autumn colour. Trees can be dedicated to family members, the passing of a loved, or to signify an event or occasion.

Three Kings

The Three Kings garden was planted by Eastwoodhill founder Douglas Cook as it could be viewed from the homestead. It contains both evergreen and deciduous plantings. The area has three little hills and are named after the three companions of Daniel from the Old Testament, Abendigo, Shadrach and Meshach.