Looming over Wellington's historic core, the Botanic Garden is 62 acres of walking trails, public art, fountains and an ever-changing variety of flora. A café inside the Begonia House overlooks the formal rose garden and serves a variety of healthy dishes made with local ingredients. Children will enjoy the extensive playground and duck pond—and there are even glow worms to spot at night. Take the cable car up to the gardens and walk back to the city via the Bolton Street Memorial Park, a historic cemetery with headstones dating to the early 1800s. Though the cemetery was bisected by a motorway in the 1970s, the peaceful walkways provide beautiful city views, a collection of heritage roses and a fascinating look at Wellington's departed.
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Power plant is a sensory overload - an experience both a little bit magical, a little bit eerie. A light and visual exhibition between five 'artistic gardeners', they take over well known gardens, installing light and sound inventions to force you to reconsider the space, the sight, the sound, and your relationship with them and your imagination. The first was in Oxford's Botanic Gardens in 2005 and experienced in this case on the other side of the world in 2014 in Wellington's, coming via Liverpool, Edinburgh and Sydney. The vital reimagining of the space and nature is like a childhood immersion in that space between fairy tale, fantasy, and nightmare. I visit in the day and inhale the rose scent, walk the gravel paths smiling at lush green, and admire the view from the top of the Cable Car. As I walk the track at night and see the scenes unfold it all seems a bit trippy, electric and eccentric, senses being stimulated by flickering lights, sounds that lure you in and novel uses of recycled gramophones, windscreen wipers and spark igniters. Children stand wide eyed in wonderment, adults are drawn back to their inner child, men peer closely trying to dissect just how the contraption was formed, and everyone is inspired. Never lose your sense of wonder.