private garden

Gwavas Garden

5740 State Highway 50, Tikokino, Central Hawke's Bay


Gwavas Garden is a beautiful woodland garden, based on the Cornish family home of Tregrehan, where Carlyon's have lived for 500 years. It comprises nine hectares (20 acres) of both native and exotic trees and shrubs. The very first plantings were those beside the family cemetery, planted by Major Carlyon in 1860. The majority of the early planting was done by his son ASG Carlyon who built the present homestead. Michael Hudson, ASG's grandson, has since the early 1950s, been the driving force behind restoring and developing the garden and in doing so has planted thousands of rare and unusual plants. Largely thanks to Michael the garden has one of the largest private collections of woody temperate plants in Australasia.
Gwavas Garden is listed as a "registered group of historic trees" with the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and has recently been recognised by the International Dendrology Society with "Distinguished for Merit" award.

Many of the trees and shrubs came from seeds sent to New Zealand from Tregrehan by ASG's older brother Jovy. The Carlyons bred their own hybrids and exchanged trees and plants.

You don't need to be a keen gardener to appreciate the beauty of Gwavas Garden; it's a visual spectacle even to the untrained eye; camellias and magnolia flower from August, rhododendrons and azaleas from September. The garden is at its best in spring, with September, October and November ideal months to enjoy the colours and contours of this sylvan setting; however there is always something to see or a whiff of fragrance to smell throughout the year, autumn colours, for example, can be spectacular.

There is an array of outhouses and smaller structures, including a summerhouse built for shade for Phyllida's great grandmother. Amusingly, this now rests in the shade of the 100-year-old trees that have now dwarfed it. There is also an old meat safe complete with a slotted board for hanging quail. Like the homestead, the glasshouse was also designed by C.T. Natusch; it originally housed a boiler used to provide heat for the propagation of the conservatory plants. The Homestead is category 1 listed with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Birdlife and Native Bush
Largely due to the conservationist tendencies of the major and subsequent generations of Carlyon's and Hudson's, and certainly against the prevailing activity in the Tikokino area in the 19th century, where there were several timber mills, Gwavas estate is home to 300 acres of virgin native bush.

Although still owned by the family today Puahanui Bush now has Department of Conservation protection, and stands as one of the best examples of lowland forest in Hawke's Bay; it is home to some fine specimen trees, including several massive Totara and Matai well over 600 years old.

The native bush and garden enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship, as many native birds are enticed into the garden by the abundant food on offer. Kereru, or native wood pigeon, are very fond of laburnum leaves and, in winter months, holly berries. Wax eyes and bellbirds can often be seen in the Japonica trees. When the cherry trees are in flower, it's not uncommon to see twenty or more tui's in a single tree.

There are also many resident ground birds to be seen, including quail, Swinhoe pheasant, turkey and, on the outskirts of the garden, peacocks.

The Gardener

With Phyllida's parents Michael and Carola being a great resource of advice and labour, Phyllida, with husband Stuart and their two children, Hannah and Freddie and labrador Max (rabbit control) manage and maintain the historic family home and garden for guests to enjoy.

Garden Size

It comprises nine hectares (20 acres) allow 1-2 hours for your visit.


Gwavas Garden is the perfect venue for your wedding. We would love to share our beautiful garden with you on your special day. If you are looking for a mass of colour the garden is at its peak flowering from late September through to the end of November. The garden continues to provide a glorious setting right through to autumn. There is always something flowering or a waft of perfume in the air and you and your guests are free to wander throughout. There are a huge variety of locations for wedding photos within the garden.

Other Facilities

Historically, the Gwavas Garden Homestead is of very great significance through its association with one of the oldest and best-known stations in Hawke's Bay. It
is registered with the Historic Places Trust as Category 1 listed building. What better place then to celebrate a wedding, commemorate a significant milestone, or launch a new direction for your business.

And with extensive outdoor areas, Gwavas Garden Homestead offers plenty of options for open-air events. Your hosts Stuart and Phyllida Gibson can help you
with marquee hire, sound systems and other requirements you may need.

For weddings, tour groups and larger functions, a fully equipped commercial kitchen is available, Gwavas Garden Homestead can supply catering to your the event, or your caterers may use the facilities on-site themselves. Inside the homestead, guests can ask to view some of the fascinating family memorabilia collected over the last one hundred years; outside, the beautiful gardens and grounds are yours to roam.


  • Accommodation
    A stay at Gwavas Garden Homestead allows you a unique opportunity to literally live in history, as you are transported back 150 years, to the world of early pioneering settlers. There are three to choose from, each with its own distinctive charm. Swinhoe Suite, Huddy's Room, Cedar Room.
  • Price
    House and garden tours. Admission (self-guide) $8. Guided tour minimum charge of $25.00
  • Parking
    We have coach/bus access right to the homestead.
  • Wheelchair Access
    Limited to around the house only.
  • Dogs allowed?
  • Food available?
    We are happy to put together a delicious menu and tour package to suit the size of your group, your budget and timeframe, so please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss the options available.
  • Picnics
    Yes feel free to bring your own picnic.
  • Children allowed?
    Children are very welcome at Gwavas Garden Homestead, but please ensure that they are well supervised at all times.
  • Toilets?
    For guests convenience, we have two outside toilets situated in our buildings adjacent to the side lawn.
  • Seating
    We have seating around the grounds.
  • Plants/Sales
  • Guided Tours
    Discover some of the Hawke’s Bay pioneer history by taking a homestead tour with Stuart, and for those who like a little exercise, a guided tour of the garden. You are also able to explore the garden at your leisure. A tour of the homestead will take between half and three-quarters of an hour and a tour of the garden can take anywhere from an hour to two or three days!


5740 State Highway 50, Tikokino, Central Hawke's Bay