The Discovery Garden

Name of case study

The Discovery Garden


 Te Whanganui a Tara Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand




Suburb/neighbourhood scale

Area / size

0.15 hectares

NbS employed

 Community gardens; Botanical gardens; Insect hotels; Medicinal gardens

Type of NbS

Created or constructed living ecosystems; Management/social/political


Wellington City Council & Wellington Botanic Gardens


 Wellington City Council


$3,100,000 NZD

Design group


The Discovery Garden, Wellington. Photo by Wellington City Council.
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss, 
  • Loss of food production
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Food security
Ecological benefits
  • Food production
  • Habitat provision
  • Medicinal resources
  • Pollination

Summary of case study

The Discovery Garden at Wellington’s Botanic Gardens was established to serve as an educational tool for children to deepen their understanding of how plants sustain human life by providing essential resources such as food, fiber, construction materials, and medicine (ISTHMUS, 2014). The garden’s design works with its Te Reo Māori name, ‘Te Kaapuia o Te Waoku,’ which translates to ‘we are all part of nature’ (Wellington City Council, 2014), encapsulating the interconnectedness of humanity and the natural world. This alignment informs a curriculum-based programme tailored for children, introducing them to the diverse plant life within the community garden and nurturing a profound appreciation for nature and its vital role in our lives.

The different facets of the garden include a ‘healthy dye mix’ garden (beetroot, love lies bleeding, onions, aloe vera), a ‘muesli garden’ (berries, nuts, and grain crops), plants and places for climbing and building, vegetable harvest and production terraces, and a wetland strip. There is a wild growing understory of kawakawa, supplejack, and kie kie, and the trench has a scented medicinal wall. All these areas of the community garden represent plants that benefit the human health and well-being of the surrounding community of Wellington.

The Discovery Garden is much more than a community garden; the system of production, and maintenance as well as aspects like insect hotels, and pollinator planting, have been implemented to create a sustainable plant-growing system.

Through initiatives like this community garden, climate resilience is bolstered, enabling communities to adapt to increasingly frequent and severe weather events. Moreover, it serves as a valuable educational platform, equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to establish similar community gardens in the future.

Read More
The Discovery Garden, 2017. “Plants for medicine form part of the ‘Healthy Dye Mix’. Candula, lavender and artichokes are amongst the specimens.” Photo by ISTHMUS Group.
The Discovery Garden, 2017. Family areas provide interaction between people and the environment. Photo by ISTHMUS Group.

Further resources:

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