Enjoy and Explore

Visitors enjoy exploring the Gardens in all seasons and for many reasons. Driving around the complex or taking a picnic and rambling one or more of the many walks is a delight.  If on the other hand you want to be more active and learn more here are a few ideas. See how many of the answers you can supply to Stanley's Quick Quiz or see how many of Blanche's Things To Do you have experienced. 

The newly launched Bason Red Kiwi Orientation Course is a popular activity taking about 20 minutes.  Maps are available from the Wanganui Information Centre or the Westmere Garage nearby.

Bason Disc (Frisbee) Golf Course
Bring your frisbee and challenge a friend! See how many throws it takes you to get your frisbee in the ‘hole’. An increasingly popular sport in US and Australia, Disc Golf is now to be found in parks, schools and recreation areas in NZ. The game is usually played on a 9 or 18 hole course. The Bason 3-hole course is just a starter! To know more visit the professional disc golf site www.pdga.com.

View of the first hole of the Bason Disc Golf course. The start is by the roadside.

The Bason Circuit
Walk, jog or run the Bason Circuit. Ever-changing scenery. Route: Main Carpark, via upper loop road and Arboretum, down Millennium Hill through the Eucalypts, through the Native Bush Walk to the Fern House at the rear of the Gardens, follow the road past the Camellias and the top of Daffodil Hill, over the north weir by the Lake and up the Gopperth Steps back to the carpark. As an additional challenge add the Lake Loop.

Regular Bason Circuit walkers ’08

Teachers bringing classes to the Bason Botanic Gardens may like to use the Curriculum Lesson Starters which are based on the values and philosophy of Stanley Bason and show links to the NZCE school curriculum. Stanley's Quick Quiz may also be used as an introductory or review test for classes.  A one or two day visit to Wanganui may also be planned with associated linked educational sessions at Bushy Park, Whanganui Regional Museum, Sarjeant Art Galley and the Whanganui River Centre.

Plan to spend several days in the region and visit other gardens and botanical related places of interest.  See the Location and Links page for ideas.

Stanley's Quick Quiz (PDF)

  1. Who was Stanley Bason and what was his dream?
  2. Who lives in the Bason Botanic Gardens Homestead today?
  3. To whom is the Conservatory Complex dedicated and why?
  4. What stream does the weir dam?
  5. What are the scientific and common names of Stanley Bason's favourite flower?
  6. What are the average nightly temperatures in the: Begonia, Orchid and Tropical Houses?
  7. What is the difference between a park/reserve and a botanic garden?
  8. What type of plants are in the Millennium Hill garden?
  9. How many hectares are the Gardens?
  10. How are these Gardens different to other botanic gardens?
  11. How are the Gardens financed?
  12. Why are shelterbelts so important in these Gardens?
  13. Why is the way the camellias are set out at the Bason Botanic Gardens so helpful?
  14. Where did the conservatory bricks come from?
  15. When were the Bason Botanic Gardens started?


Stanley's Quick Quiz

  1. Stanley Bason, the farmer who gifted his farm to become a botanic garden
  2. The Custodian and his family
  3. Blanche Bason, Stanley's wife
  4. Mowhanau Stream
  5. Haemanthus coccineus (Commonly known are Blood Lily or Elephant Ear) was Stanley's favourite flower
  6. Begonia 12, Tropical 18 Orchid 25
  7. A botanical garden in addition to being an attractive place, conserves and preserves rare and unusual plants and provides opportunity for research and study of plant species.
  8. Mediterranean sub-tropica land tropical plants and Australian species
  9. 25 hectares
  10. Their source was a gift of a farm. They are in a rural setting. You can drive around them. They have unique architecture. They are hilly and have many vistas.
  11. The Gardens are financed by the Wanganui District Council and funds raised by the Trust.
  12. Shelter is important because they are near the west coast with prevailing salt-laden westerly winds.
  13. The camellias are planted in beds of species.

Blanche's Things to Do (PDF)

Through the Exotic Conifer Arboretum
Identify the different kinds of cones
See how many countries are botanically represented

Around the Dress Circle
Complete a brass rubbing of one of the conservatory plaques
Scientifically photograph a series of subtropical botanical images
Creatively photograph something floral in the English Garden
Make a wish in the Spin-a -Coin Homestead Garden feature

Near the Millennium Hill
Identify the fragrances of the Scented Garden section
Find the cork trees and feel their bark
Take a photo of the stunning Echinacea, Echium and/or Eryngium (Spring/summer)

In the Bush and Wetlands
Recall the legend of Tane, God of the Forest
Make up a guide's script for the wetlands bog area
Identify the bird calls

At the Picnic Area
Organise a picnic with friends – and teddy bears
Write a song / poem about a favourite place. Sing/say it from the Open Air Forum – and email the Trust newsletter editor a copy!
Identify the waterfowl – remember to take binoculars.

Through the Woodlands
Sketch a flower – and send it to a friend
Listen to the tuis in the Kowhai Bank
Read Wordsworth's Ode to Daffodils

Curriculum Lesson Starters (PDF)

Learning suggestions for teachers of Years 4-8 students are listed below. Curriculum* links are indicated in brackets.
Use one or a mix of the following to develop a unit for a visit to the Bason Botanic Gardens. (If teachers would like to submit their unit for possible publication on this website for others to use, please send a copy to the website editor b.sinclair@xtra.co.nz. Any units published will of course be credited to the author.) *(L=Language; Sc=Science; M=Maths; H=Health; SS=Social Studies: PE=Physical Education: A=Art, T=Technology )

  • Classify a selection of tree species by leaf, bark, size and shape or flower and identify by scientific, Maori and common name. (Sc, L)
  • Draw a transect of a part of the Gardens and identify plant types growing on it (Sc, M)
  • Estimate the costs of 'balancing the books' of a public garden. Should we have them? (M)
  • Research the 'critters', helpful and destructive, which may be in these gardens. Consider also the pheasant and deer which used to be part of the Gardens' attractions. (Sc)
  • A palm is called 'the tree of life'. The only NZ native palm is the nikau. Investigate where it is grown in the Gardens and why it is called the 'tree of life'. (Sc,SS)
  • Make a collection of dried herbs and present with data as a book herbarium. Visit the Museum to see heritage samples. (Sc)
  • On World Environment Day (called Arbor Day in NZ) celebrated on the 5 June each year, discuss priorities for a botanic garden wanting to lead the way for a healthier environment. Find the United Nations international theme for the year and use it as the basis for research. (H,Sc)
  • Develop a model, or set of three models, showing what the Bason Botanic Gardens were like, are like and could be like. (A, M)
  • Conduct a survey to establish why people visit botanic gardens. (SS, T)
  • Explore conservation issues in the Gardens giving definition and examples. Consider propagation, recycling, power. (L,T)
  • Investigate the soil type and its care considering for example composting, irrigation, salt winds, chemical use (Sc,T)
  • Identify the different kinds of harakeke/flax in the Gardens' harakeke collection and find out about the Maori protocols of flax weaving. (Sc,SS,T)
  • Research wetlands, once considered wasteland and now realised for their importance. What are the features of the Bason wetlands? (Sc)
  • Design a botanic garden focussing on young visitors. (Sc, M, A, SS,T)
  • Research another Wanganui related botanist eg Reverend Richard Taylor, and their importance to the development of the region (L)
  • Organise a forum to discuss the recreational requirements of young, middle aged and senior visitors to Gardens. (H)
  • Determine what a 'pledge' is and its connection to 'passion'. Relate it to Bason's example. (SS)
  • Examine the classification groups (taxa) of living things. In more detail explore the Plant Kingdon of the five kingdoms method of classification and how DNA has changed the classification of cordyline (cabbage trees) from the Agave Family to their own Family. (Sc).
  • Interview the Custodian, Trust member or District Councillor and find out their feelings on the place of the Gardens in Wanganui's future (L)
  • Debate the need and requirements of recreational access as people move from the 'quarter acre paradise' to apartment living. (SS)
  • Develop policies for safety and health issues in a botanic garden. Consider both visitors and workers. (H)
  • Investigate careers and occupations related to ethnobotany and/or botanic gardens. (SS)
  • Experience an old fashioned style picnic in the Gardens and compare it to what you consider to be the most popular family entertainment today. (SS)
  • Compare heritage games played in a park with present day games eg kite flying to disc golf. (PE)
  • Select a quiet spot on your own in the Gardens. Consider what you see, hear and feel and write those feelings down in the form of a song/poem/rap. (A, L)
  • Role play possible situations experienced in Stanley Bason's life. (L,SS)
  • Debate the importance or otherwise of 'celebrating the seasons'. (L,SS)


Orienteering is an increasingly popular pastime for many.  It's a competitive sport which appeals to all ages and both sexes.  In Wanganui, groups and schools have set up temporary courses and the Bason Botanic Gardens has been a popular venue. 

The first Red Kiwi Orienteering Club was established 30 years ago by visiting  Australian Larry Sykes a member of the Red Kangaroos.  Clubs usually meet once a month and visit different courses which have been set up throughout NZ.  The Red Kiwi Club from PN, with its Wanganui members, have used the Bason Botanic Gardens for temporary events many times and have now set up a permanent course which will allow many more people to enjoy the sport

Orienteering involves cross-country running using a map to find your way around a set course.  It requires physical fitness, skill in map reading, compass work, mental alertness and decisiveness.  Orienteering teaches the participant to assess, understand and 'read' the countryside as well as to appreciate the beauty and variety of the terrain they travel over.  It's inclusion as one of the available activities at the Bason, reflects the philosophy of the Gardens benefactor, Stanley Bason. 

A standard orienteering course consists of a start, a series of checkpoints called controls at different features in the terrain, which must be visited in order, and a finish. Participants use a detailed map of the area to find the controls.  There are currently 15 permanent orienteering courses established throughout New Zealand. 

 Maps for the Bason Red Kiwi Orienteering Course are for sale from the Wanganui Information Centre (See Location and Links page) and Westmere Garage.

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