Horticulture Heading

Tourism & Horticulture

Reproduced from an article by Alan Jolliffe

From The New Zealand Garden Journal (Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture), Vol. 2, No. 2, June 1997, pp. 15-21.


This article provides information on basic tourism concepts for an audience not traditionally exposed to tourism. It aims to show the interrelationships between tourism, tourists and horticulture and gardening. It also examines briefly the media coverage of horticulture, horticultural features, and horticultural events to show the direct relationship between tourism and horticulture.

Key words: Horticulture, gardening, tourism.


There has been an upsurge in the interest of people and businesses trying to cash in on the tourism boom in New Zealand. Of interest in this article is the relationship between horticulture and gardening and tourism.

Tourism is a major growth industry in New Zealand and indeed the world. With New Zealand tourism growth rates expected of up to 10% per annum many people are promoting tourism as one of the saviours of the New Zealand economy in the future.

In this article Tourism is defined in the broad context, and tourism activities related to horticulture are discussed. The extent of interrelationships between horticulture and tourism is shown through a snapshot investigation of various media. Finally a short discussion on the impacts of tourism is provided.

Visitor Numbers

The Truth about Tourism Figures (NZ$)

  Current (1997) Year 2000 Estimate
International Market
International Visitors 1.2 million 2.5 million
Gross Expenditure $3.5 billion $ 10.0 billion
Less Air Transportation $1.2 billion $3.6 billion
Nett Ground Expenditure $2.3 billion $6.2 billion
Domestic Market
Domestic Trips 15 million 20 million
Pleasure $2.7 billion $3.5 billion
Business $1.5 billion $2.00 billion
Gross Expenditure $4.2 billion $5.5 billion

Source NZTB


There are a number of definitions of tourism. Murphy (1982) defined Tourism as "... the temporary movement of people to destinations outside their normal places of work and residence, the activities undertaken during their stay in those destinations, and the facilities created to cater for their needs."

The four factors identified in tourism which affects profitability of businesses and regional development are (Jolliffe 1993):

  1. visitor numbers
  2. length of stay
  3. level of expenditure
  4. repeat and referral visits

When examining figures like this we have to know how they are made up. Gross figures are fine but a large area of expenditure like air travel can make a big difference to the picture painted by those wishing to enhance the value of tourism to the economy.

Ground figures are also general because they comprise two main components of each:

  1. Business Travel
  2. Pleasure Travel

Business travel has a different set of expenditure patterns to pleasure travel.

Pleasure travel can be subdivided into the following distinct groups:

  1. FIT: Free independent traveller — people who hire camper vans, cars, bicycles etc and make up their own itinerary as they travel around. This is a growing market.
  2. SIT: Semi independent traveller — people who have a partly organised itinerary but can fit in a range of other activities of their own choice.
  3. Package Tours: Fully inclusive trips where groups fly in, get on a coach and are taken around New Zealand and only visit predetermined locations. This type of traveller is predicted to decline or at least stay level in the future.
In general we are told of a rapid increase in numbers. What businesses need to know is which group is growing to determine the marketing mix of a business.

Length of Stay
Length of stay is defined in this article as the time period visitors stay in New Zealand, a region or in accommodation or an attraction.

Historically the average length of stay in New Zealand was about 27 days. Currently the average length of stay is about 19 days. A significant drop.

In the future there is predicted to be a world wide trend towards short break holidays. It is expected that this the length of stay will fall even further.

Regionally one can measure tourism in length of stay because it has high economic impact. Auckland's length of stay is up to 6 days with Wellington at 2 days (NZTB).

There are a range of measures looked at in determining expenditure.

Mean Expenditure/person/holiday $NZ
Germany 3314
Japan 3148
Australia 1320

Mean Expenditure/person/day $NZ
Germany 105
Japan 237
Australia 96

NZTB (New Zealand Tourism Board) has a policy to attract medium to high income earners to visit New Zealand to increase these expenditure patterns.

Repeat and Referal Business
This is vital to all business and services. Organisations totally focused on the customer will have no problem obtaining repeat business. Service, customer focus, activities, programmes and social interaction all have a major part in repeat business

It is the mix of these four factors which will increase profitability of regions and individual businesses.

International Visitor Activities

Over the years there have been a variety of surveys undertaken to determine what activities visitors undertake. In the 1984 International Visitor Survey the main attractions visited were:

Top 7 Activities

  1. Historic Homes
  2. Sightseeing
  3. Forest Parks
  4. City Parks
  5. Scenic Drives
  6. Tramping/Walking
  7. Cable Car (entrance to Wellington Botanic Garden)

The 1993 International Visitor Survey which is in a different format to the 1984 version provides the following information.

Activities Undertaken
In this survey 9% (90,000) of people visited gardens. Notice though the activities which could have some horticultural/conservation content.

Top activities undertaken by international visitors
short bush walk
scenic boat cruise (views)
jet boating (views)
wine tasting — vineyards
long bush walk

Attractions Visited
Again note those attractions that have a horticultural/conservation content —

historic site
wildlife park/zoo
formal attractions

One of the prime reasons we are attracting people to New Zealand is the 'Clean Green' image portrayed to the world. Every piece of New Zealand seen by visitors is judged by the imagery sent overseas.

The Tourism Product
The tourism product is composite in nature and includes everything that the tourist purchases, sees, experiences and feels from the time they leave home until they return. (Collier 1991)

From the definition alone we can deduce that it is the total experience that is vital to the success of tourism in New Zealand. If everything that is seen and experienced is important, much of that seen in the urban and rural landscape is related to horticulture in its broadest sense.

Tourism — Inbound/Outbound/Domestic

Turning now to the relationship of tourism to horticulture we need to consider the three areas of tourism.

Inbound is people coming into New Zealand — many arriving to experience the 'clean and green' that is promoted overseas. This image should be enhanced.

9% of international visitors visit gardens in New Zealand and that is increasing. Currently there are various package tours of New Zealand which have a horticultural aspect to them including:

Garden Tours
Botanical Tours (gardens, flora etc)
Historic Tours (Historical Homes and Gardens)
Specialist Tours (Rhodos)
Horticulture Event Tours (Roses etc)
Tree Tours (IDS)
Alpine Trekking
Eco Tourism

New Zealand should be taking advantage of this interest and bring the native and introduced flora to the visitor through a different style of horticulture. Can New Zealand gardeners take an idea from Kelly Tarltons and provide a wide range of flora in attractive environments?

Outbound Tourism

To further illustrate the relationship between tourism and horticulture consider some aspects of outbound tourism. There are two examples

Garden Tours: pick up any magazine and you will find an advertisement by a travel agent taking a special interest in garden tours to England, Europe, Japan, California, Australia etc. New Zealander's are great travellers with a love of gardening. These tours, often led by personalities (Maggie Barry, Eion Scarrow etc), are very popular.

Wild Flower Tours: wildflower tours to South Africa, Nepal or Western Australia are regularly advertised.

Domestic Tourism

One of the long forgotten elements in the whole tourism promotion is Domestic Tourism, "Kiwis on holiday in Kiwiland". They can be divided into two markets: Day Trippers, and long stay (1 night or more).

Day Trippers: people leaving home for less than 24 hours. A market that is being exploited more and more in New Zealand. In horticultural terms there are many opportunities to capture this market including

Open Gardens: Absolutely gone mad in NZ. In the spring of 1994 in Wellington up to 4 different groups organised open gardens for various reasons — mainly community fund raising.

Some small towns like Marton use Open Gardens as a major draw card for visitors to the town. The whole community benefits through the increased expenditure. Increases in petrol sales, food sales, product sales, nursery sales and the like are made.

Many special events are run for this particular market. The significance of it has been recognised in such things as Garden Festivals, Ellerslie Flower Show, Garden Tours, Wine events, even the Alexandra Blossom Festival.

Longer stay tourists: These are people who stay away from home more than 24 hours, i.e., overnight. This group is broken down into three groups: Business Travellers, Pleasure Travellers and Visiting Friends and Relatives.

Business Travellers — may or may not visit a horticultural attraction but be sure they will notice horticultural features in a city or region. Business travellers enjoy going to well maintained areas.

Pleasure Travellers — particularly FIT (free independent travellers), take advantage of the opportunity to visit many areas of the country including parks, gardens (private and public etc.)

Visiting Friends and Relatives — to capture this part of the market the local population needs to have a high awareness of horticultural attractions within the local area.

A recent survey by Wellington City Council showed that:

98% of residents knew of the facilities it provided

84% used parks and gardens

The Botanic Garden was at the top of the list

One could extrapolate from this that domestic visitors may also like to visit such attractions when in another location.


Gardens: Crompton (1993) suggested it was public parks and recreation facilities that attracted tourists to an area. Gardens vary in their type in different areas and are attractions in their own right.

Botanic Gardens: Concentrate on high quality displays including colour and form, geographical collections, plant trials, specialist collections and many more. A great deal of work is put into interpretation work such as signs and various educational programmes.

These are a major drawcard for both domestic and international visitors.

In the results of a survey in Christchurch Botanic Gardens (Jolliffe, 1976) where a question asked "What is the main reason you came to the Botanic Gardens". The most responses were, "to feed the ducks". Maybe there is a lesson there . The need for some excitement, movement or something people can relate to.

Public Gardens and Domains: these are generally nice places to go and have a high profile in the local community.

Horticultural features: there are many of these in every town or city. Outside the town hall and in prominent places. All to beautify the area and make it more attractive to both locals and visitors.

The survey in 1976 examined what people did in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Activities in order of importance

  1. Strolling
  2. Looking at trees and plants
  3. Looking at wildlife
  4. Relaxing
  5. Visiting conservatories
    (Jolliffe 1976)

This provides a guide to the type of design elements that need to be included.

Private Gardens: contrary to popular opinion some of the best plant collections in New Zealand are in private gardens. These are owned and maintained by serious amateurs or semi-professionals.

Today many of these are open to the public either regularly, occasionally or seasonally. There may be a charge for charity or a charge to pay for the upkeep or even run as a business. Some of the better ones have associated food and beverage outlets, souvenirs, merchandise, plants ete to increase revenue.

Farms: one of the fastest growing tourism ventures in New Zealand today is Farm Stay/Home Stay. Everything from the Hobby Farm to the High Country Station is offering a range of truly NZ "get to know you" opportunities.

Associated with many of these areas are some of the country's best private gardens. In fact, in some cases the garden is the prime attraction.

Not only is it the garden but also the farm with its high number of trees planted on the land. Some of the country's largestcollection of trees either generally or in specific generic collections are to be found on farms (MacKay, 1993).

Attractions: Kiwifruit Country, Disneyland, Sea World, Dreamworld all use horticulture to enhance the quality of the visit.

Take for example Disneyland. It always looks great, is extremely well landscaped, with not a plant out of place. It is the gardens — its horticultural expertise in planning, design, planting and maintenance that sets it apart from others.

Kiwifruit Country serves to enthuse people to learn more about horticulture. Living education — and it is only a small part of the horticulture that fascinates people.

Nurseries Retail: there are the old fashioned plantsman nurseries which are a joy for the specialist to visit. However, Palmers have changed the face of nursery retailing turning it into an adventure and a day out. With its special guests Maggie Barry and Bill Ward — coffee shop, range of other garden related products and of course plants. Swafield (1992) stated "Garden centres rival shopping centres as a weekend leisure focus".


Turning now to another aspect of Tourism, Ecotourism. In the forest, in alpine areas, along the coastline and in National Parks the visitor/tourist is offered many opportunities to experience nature. Short bush walks are the most popular visitor activity by tourists (IVS 1994/5). Skills are needed to preserve these assets to ensure they are sustained in the future.

Already alpine walks and treks, mountain bike trips, all terrain tours, mountain walks, coastal walks are operated by tour companies. This will grow and mean more work for horticulturalists, park managers, planners and rangers. More and more horticultural skills will be required to maintain the natural heritage.


Swafield (1992) stated resorts were "created because of a particular scenic attraction". Take for example Rotorua where the Government Gardens has long been regarded as one of the major attractions in Rotorua. Featured on postcards in promotional leaflets, books, movies, videos etc.

In Nelson in 1982 the Council decided to reduce bedding plants by 25% to save costs. Inspection showed that the uncontrolled use of bedding plants had led to a dilution of their effect. The new plan concentrated bedding where it mattered — high profile and set in the landscape to provide excellent bedding features. Two years later Council were asking for more because visitors commented on it, locals loved it and it did something for the city — pride! Needless to say staff actually refused to plant more because it would water down what was being done and reduce the dramatic impact on people of those displays.

Attractions should be absolutely fabulous with design, displays and maintenance being of a high standard, but often they are not.

In summary there is a great deal that can be done to improve horticulture as a major drawcard to a city, town etc based upon the way people are flocking to horticultural events, garden tours and the like.

Tourist Attractions Gardens

There is a growing interest in visiting gardens. Everywhere there are garden visits organised. In the Wellington Region in August 1995, 5 or more separate organisations ran garden visits with some 150 private gardens open to the public. In addition New Zealand Rail organised a train trip to the Wairarapa to visit gardens. Palmers Garden Centre and Williams Garden Centre also organised them. The list goes on.

Deloitte Touche Tobmatsu (1993) conduct an annual visitor survey of attractions in New Zealand.

The following chart shows the dates when public and private gardens in the survey were first opened to the public:

Pre 1930 2.7%
1930-49 35.1%
1950-69 18.9%
1970-79 8.1%
1980-85 10.8%
1986-90 0%
1991-92 24.3%

Opening Hours
Gardens have the longest opening hours of all attractions. 51% of all gardens have an entrance fee.

92% spend less than $5,000 on marketing.

Gardens have the lowest marketing budget of all attractions.

Gardens know less about visitor make up than other attractions.

When looking at this information one gets the impression that everyone is getting on the bandwagon — especially private gardens. One thing this survey does not state is the quality of those gardens, best season, outstanding feature or landscape design. This issue needs to be addressed.

Note that the majority of the visitors are not international but domestic. Of the domestic visitors I suggest a high % are local ratepayers. If the locals take their out of town visitors to the gardens are they going to feel proud of the gardens? That is the test!

Local authorities which want to attract tourists and use their parks and gardens to add to the overall landscape of the city or be an attraction have to meet the competition head on. Take a look at their parks and gardens, change them, improve them or lose the tourism race.

Visitor Numbers to Gardens
Total visitors (includes domestic and international tourists)

Gardens 2.76 million visitors

This compares with:

Museums 3.82 million visitors

Attractions 4.09 million visitors (includes theme parks etc.)

Average number of visitors per garden 95,366

77% of all gardens have less than 30,000 visitors.

International Visitors

Estimated only 9% (248,000) of international visitors visit gardens

70.3% of gardens predict an increase in visitor numbers of between 1-20%

Media Survey

In order to test the popularity of horticulture as a tourism attraction 1 looked at different media and the programmes being offered.


Documentaries Several have featured gardens. The Ellerslie Flower Show is being filmed as a documentary.
News Various news items feature high profile horticultural events.
Palmers Garden Show Includes gardening, garden visits, landscaping, nurseries, etc. Its ratings are extremely high.
Living Earth Conservation, gardening, gardening visits etc.
Advertisements Flowers, plants, gardens all feature.
Travel Programmes Places to visit
Videos Gardening, Gardens etc

The following information was taken from the New Zealand Gardener August 1994, Circulation 60,000.

Advertisements National Trust Gardens
Small Acorns 15 gardens to visit
Taranaki Garden Festival
Eden Garden
Huntly School Garden Festival
Stallard Farm
Gardens to Visit Brown Sugar Café
Pams Lavender Patch
Flower shows Ellerslie
Roseworld (Christchurch)
Waikato Flower Show
Dunedin Rhododendron Festival
Matamata Festival of Flowers
Manawatu Rose & Garden
Nurseries Cannock Wood
Bay bloom
Cross Hills
Travel To New Caledonia
Thomas Cook
Coromandel Peninsula
Small Acorns 8 garden tours advertised
Nelson Town and Country Tours
Travel Works 4 tours overseas
Travelwise 6 New Zealand and overseas tours
Youngs Garden Tours East Coast
Education Garden Marlborough
Garden Galaxy Masterton
Articles Gardener holiday in New Caledonia

This shows the range of advertising using horticulture to promote tourism.

New Zealand Gardener 1993-94
From the index — feature articles on gardens and tourism

13 Country Gardens
13 Gardens to Visit
1 Article about gardens to visit
8 Articles on nurseries.

Radio Gardening shows

Newspapers Garden Sections

Brochures General

When looking at brochures promoting cities and regions parks and reserves feature strongly.

NZTB uses amazing photographs of flora, scenery, parks and gardens. The range of photographs is wide.

Brochures Specific

Brochures of specific attractions always features plants, garden setting, views or scenery.

Special Events Horticulture

Horticultural events are proving more and more popular all the time and create a major inflow of domestic tourists. The day-tripper is just as important as the overnighter.

At some point in time these events will reach market saturation reducing the likelihood of them being repeated in the future due to insufficient visitors to make it profitable.

The decline in attendance may also be caused by too many poor quality events rather than too many good events.

Other Horticulture

Looking at the nature of tourism a range of other horticultural sectors influences tourism.

Horticulture Use
Pot plants decoration
Cut flowers decoration, gifts
Food vegetables
Salads food
Fruit fresh fruit
Timber souvenirs, packaging
Highway landscape scenery
Open space green image
Decorations Events
Turf Stadiums, sports grounds

The influence of horticulture is immense.

Impacts on Tourism

There are 4 major impacts of tourism. Each has its good points and bad points. Right now everyone is promoting the good points and in some cases ignoring the bad.

Economic Impact
Local authorities and other groups see tourism as a saviour creating employment and wealth in a region. Jobs are created in three ways directly, indirectly and induced. The indirect and induced jobs are as a result of the multiplier effect of tourism dollars spent in your community. There may also be jobs created in horticulture.

Environmental Impact
Natural areas often don't have a high level of development and may deteriorate rapidly and unseen to the eye. Photographs on a 12 monthly basis help if a comparison needs to be made.

Use and effects on the environment must be considered under the Resource Management Act. The normal aspects of new developments are dealt with but managers must now consider the physical carrying capacity of the area.

Gardens with good paths that don't wear out, grass well maintained, vandalism minimised and with litter cleared up have a high carrying capacity. Garden areas are very suitable to develop to take pressure off natural areas.

Social carrying capacity is also important. Visitors do not mind sharing the discovery of a fine garden with 50 others. This issue is greater in National Parks where low social carrying capacity has to be managed to ensure a high quality experience.

Cultural Impact
What impact does tourism have on the New Zealand culture? What is the typical New Zealand garden? Does the number and type of visitors influence garden design? A range of issues need to be addressed.

Social Impact
How does tourism impact on the local population? Studies have shown that the constant flow of visitors can have either a negative or positive impact on the social structure of our society. Attitudes and habits will change as people interact with tourists from other cultures.

Interrelationships of impacts
These impacts while dealt with separately need to be considered in an interrelated way. Managers need to understand the nature of tourism, tourist behaviour and land management issues to derive the greatest benefit from increased visitor numbers.


  1. Horticulture and Tourism are intertwined to such an extent that without horticulture tourism would suffer.
  2. Public agencies provide the bulk of good horticulture.
  3. Garden visitors are made up of 91% domestic and 9% international visitors.
  4. Horticulture impacts more on tourism than just aesthetically as the food and beverage and decoration industries also rely on horticulture.
  5. There are opportunities for horticultural businesses — from arborist to food production, from landscape to garden maintenance etc.
  6. Promotion of regions often depends upon the images portrayed by horticultural features.
  7. The local population need to have pride in their area to generate more visitors.
  8. The role of horticulture will change in the future as we will use different techniques to maintain and improve our environment.
  9. The influence of the media, festivals, shows, open gardens and the like will place more pressure on professionals to provide higher quality public horticulture features.


Collier, A. (1991). Principles of Tourism. A New Zealand Perspective. Pitman. Auckland.

Crompton, (1993). Paper presented to New Zealand Recreation Association Conference, Wellington.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (1993) Attractions Survey. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Christchurch.

Murphy, P. E. (1982). Tourism. A Community Approach. Methuen. London.

Jolliffe, A. G. (1993). Tourism Profitability. Unpublished paper CIT. Wellington

Jolliffe, A. G. (1976). Visitor Surveys — A Practical Guide. Dissertation. Lincoln University. Lincoln.

Mackay, M. (1993). Paper presented to Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture Conference. Rotorua.

New Zealand Gardener. (August 1994) Wilson and Horton. Auckland.

New Zealand Tourism Board. (1994). International Visitor Survey 1993/4. New Zealand Tourism Board. Wellington.

Swafield (1992). Landscapes of Leisure. Leisure Recreation and Tourism. Eds Perkins H. C. & Cushman, G. Longman Paul. Auckland.


Related to this article is the RNZIH Annual Conference 2000 Seminar on Garden Visiting - Potential for Tourism.

Towards a national information register of showcase open gardens. Eden Garden Pavilion, 24 Omana Ave, Epsom, Auckland, 24 November 2000.

Proceedings of this conference are now available from the RNZIH.

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