Things to do  |  10 Mar 2021

Christchurch’s inaugural Grow Ōtautahi Garden Festival will finally open on Friday in the Botanic Gardens after COVID-19 ended plans to hold the free event last year.

The new festival draws on the region’s love of gardens, creativity, innovation and design and runs from Friday 12 March through until Sunday 14 March, 9am to 5pm.

Grow Ōtautahi Festival Director Sandi MacRae says it’s a huge privilege to be able to welcome people to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens for the festival. 

 “The weather is looking fantastic and we can’t wait to open the gates to the people of Christchurch for the Garden City’s very own Garden Festival. It’s free for everyone and there’s plenty to see and do.  

“We were gutted that last year’s event had to be cancelled because of the lockdown, but we’re here now and we’re ready to go. The build-up is getting really exciting and the site is really starting to look amazing. 

“Whether you want to be inspired by our exhibition and display gardens, tempted in the Garden Kitchen, wowed by the work of our schools and community gardens, have a bit of fun in the kids’ zone, or take part in our workshops and sessions – there’s something here for you and it’s free for everyone!” 

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Horticultural Futures Hub – Engage in robust discussion, learn about new technologies, listen to experts, and discover innovative solutions that will ensure a quality lifestyle for future generations.
  • Terra Viva Workshop Marquee - Learn new techniques by watching demonstrations or participating in hands-on sessions delivered by industry experts, join a conversation and get involved.
  • Rātā Foundation School Gardens – Be inspired by the minds of the future, explore gardens designed by local primary school students showcasing their communities and telling stories about the environment and sustainability.
  • Readylawn Landscape Lane – Wander around a variety of landscape exhibits to learn about products and services to enhance your outdoor living spaces.
  • Display Gardens – Learn how to integrate plants into any environment, understand what makes plants thrive and how to get the best growing results at home.
  • Botanical Marquee – Visit local horticultural clubs and associations to learn about opportunities to connect with like-minded people.
  • MacRae Landscape Design Garden Kitchen – Enjoy cooking demonstrations, taste culinary creations and learn about ways to increase food resilience within our communities.
  • Exhibition Gardens – See horticultural creativity at its best, stimulate ideas and feel motivated by the work of landscape design experts in these showcase gardens.
  • Home and Lifestyle – Connect with local businesses selling products and services related to gardening, landscaping, outdoor living, horticulture and food.
  • Treetech Kids’ Zone – Entertain the tamariki with fun activities, competitions and displays specifically targeted at youth. From tree-climbing and sandpit digs to colourful workshops and performances.

See the full festival programme.

Festival-goers will be able to purchase food on site but people are also welcome to bring their own picnic.

QR codes will be posted at the entrance to the festival and people are encouraged to use the COVID tracer app to sign in.

Getting to Grow Ōtautahi

The festival is expected to draw lots of visitors so if you are planning on attending, the best idea is to leave the car at home if you can.

You’ll see the signs at entrances to the gardens which will point you to the festival – or just follow the people!

  • Bus – you can take a bus and walk the short distance to the festival, bike or scooter. Metro Bus #17 stops on Rolleston Avenue, or it’s a short walk from the Bus Exchange to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
  • Bike or scooter – there are bike stands outside entrances to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and scooters also need to be left at the gates.

 Limited on- and off-street carparking is available in usual locations around Rolleston Avenue, and some carparking will be available in the Hagley Park/Botanic Gardens car park.

A one-way system will be set up and operated by traffic management staff through this car park, leading in from the Armagh Street Bridge, and out onto Riccarton Avenue.