Hereweka Garden Retreat

Our Garden

Hereweka means “snaring of the weka” - a native woodhen, sadly now locally extinct - was named ‘Hereweka’ by the original Maori inhabitants of the peninsula. The name refers to the area around the prominent landmark called Harbour Cone, (or Pukemata). In Maori oral history; a famous chief called Tarewai was wounded and captured in a tribal conflict, but escaped his captors and fled to the sanctuary of Hereweka (and the forested slopes of Pukemata) and there rested, healing his wounds using the plentiful resources of the forest. He recovered fully and went on to defeat his enemies in battle.

Peter and Anna have continued the tradition of sanctuary in their garden of Hereweka.

Recently featured in a great article in NZ Life and Leisure magazine. Please head over and read this by clicking here.


Building an Ecological Sanctuary on Otago Peninsula

Although much of the native forest on the Otago peninsula was cleared in the 19th century, miraculously a beautiful stand survived on the property. Including many ancient Rimu trees, this is one of the two most significant areas of native forest left on the Otago Peninsula. Peter and Anna have protected it with a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust open space covenant and have developed walking tracks to enable people to enjoy it more fully.

The self-contained property also contained several large Californian Monterey cypress (Macrocarpa) trees, planted by an earlier owner. These were felled and milled, and Peter built the house from their timber. However, even before the house was begun, Anna and Peter started developing the garden. Organic principles were practiced from its inception. The vegetable garden and beds around the house were the first to be tackled. The garden slowly evolved and flourished; outwards from the house site, eventually extending to its present several acres. Now open to the public and well known, it has been featured in most of New Zealand’s major garden magazines over the years, including recent editions of NZ House and Garden and the NZ Gardener. The garden is a member of the New Zealand Gardens Trust and has been recognised as a Garden of Regional Significance to Dunedin.

Hereweka Plant Nursery

Hereweka Garden has a plant nursery with plants grown from the garden. From your luxury accommodation, you can wonder around the garden, and if a plant takes your fancy, it can usually be found in the Nursery. There are also many rare and interesting plants that have been grown from seed, sourced from all over the world. A catalogue can be requested online.

The Flora at Hereweka Garden Retreat, Otago Peninsula

Anna and Peter share a love of plants; a passion that is clearly evident in the composition and diversity of this harmonious and restful garden. Initially, several hundred rhododendrons, flowering cherries, magnolias and maples were planted, interspersed with larger trees and herbaceous perennials. Over the years the number and variety of plants in the garden has expanded as Anna and Peter’s interests and expertise has developed.

Peter’s passion and knowledge lie with the hundreds of trees planted on the property. A member of the International Dendrology Society, Peter has an excellent eye for form and structure as well as a thorough understanding of the ecological roles and habitat requirements of trees.

Anna’s skills complement Peter’s with her passion for detail and colour. She has underplanted the trees extensively with bulbs and woodland plants, as well as filling the large herbaceous borders with perennials, roses and many unusual shrubs.

An Ever Evolving Garden in a Spectacular New Zealand Setting 

The garden at Hereweka Garden Retreat continues to evolve. Recent developments include ponds, paths, and a little valley with a Gondwana planting theme, including palms, cordylines and tree ferns.

We were privileged to be featured in NZ House & Garden- Download the article here

About Peter Cooke and Anna Moore

About Peter Cooke and Anna Moore

Your hosts at Hereweka Garden Retreat are Peter Cooke and Anna Moore. Peter is the local Portobello general practitioner while Anna works as a psychotherapist in private practice in Dunedin. Both now work part-time so they have opportunities to follow their other passions.

Anna and Peter met at University, and right from the start shared a passion for the natural environment, gardening, organics and sustainable practices. In 1983, with two young children, they fell in love with this property and felt that many of their dreams could be realised here. They purchased the property and named it Hereweka Garden.

Building a Luxurious Boutique Garden Retreat on the Otago Peninsula

Quite apart from the beauty of the surroundings, there were many other aspects to this property which gave it huge potential. It was situated on a sheltered, north-facing slope, with a unique micro-climate, allowing for a huge variety of plants to be grown. A ridge of original native forest had miraculously survived the plunder of clearing, burning and logging. There was abundant wildlife; both on the property and within easy reach of it.

Everything fell into place. The general practitioner for the area had recently left and Peter began practicing medicine as the local doctor. The medical practice had run down, so initially Peter was working part-time and spent his precious free hours developing Hereweka Garden Retreat. Anna stayed at home to look after their growing family - two more children were born here - and helped Peter develop the garden and nursery.

Stunningly Beautiful Self-contained Ecological Accommodation 

Since then, Peter and Anna have turned their dream into a reality. Today Hereweka Garden Retreat has a three-acre garden, including a large organic vegetable garden and orchard. The ridge of native trees is protected by a QE II National Trust open space covenant, with the rest of the property planted out in several hundred exotic trees, many of which are rare and unusual. The property is managed by organic, sustainable methods. Open by appointment to visitors, it has become well-known and has been featured several times in major New Zealand garden magazines.

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