Clematis paniculata

Native Plant ID Trail

Have you ever wondered “What’s that native plant?”

What's that native plant?

If you have ever wondered “what’s that native plant?” visit our Identification Trail to learn some common NZ native plants. Find out how to identify them through their leaf size and shape, leaf colour, bark texture, flowers, fruit and berries. And once you know which is which, find out their uses – for medicine, building, food – even chewing gum!

The Native Plant Identification Trail holds over 200 species of native NZ plants, primarily from the north of the country, including trees, shrubs, perennials, climbers and ferns. When you enter the gardens through Huakaiwaka, the visitor centre, pick up a Native Plant Identification pamphlet to fill out on the trail.

This garden is a great educational resource for schools, locals and tourists alike. Follow the trail and learn how to identify a range of native plants as well as some of their traditional Māori uses.


New Zealand's flora is unique due to our long geographic isolation (about 80 million years) from other land masses. We have a small flora of around 2000 plants but most are endemic, meaning they don't occur anywhere else in the world. Our New Zealand Native Plant Collection enables visitors to view and identify a diverse range of these unique plants. Amongst the unusual things about NZ native plants are the high number with separate male and female individuals (dioecy), different adult and juvenile growth forms, predominance of white coloured flowers and divaricating plants – those with right-angled branching which forms shrubs of springy impenetrable masses possibly a defence mechanism to browsing by the extinct bird, the moa.

Gardening Tips for Native Plants
  • If you’ve admired the tangled divaricating shrubs in this garden try growing some at home. They are easy to grow, create dramatic contrasting effects and have a compact habitat well suited to smaller gardens.
  • Choose a native tree for the birds from Auckland Council’s 'Planting for Pollination' factsheet.

Material from this collection is often collected and used by scientists in taxonomic work analysing the relationships of native plants using DNA. It’s also used by entomologists researching invertebrates, native and exotic, found eating and living on NZ native plants.


Tarmac paths are accessible in wheelchairs or scooters.

Look for the ‘no scooter’ sign at the start of narrow or steep paths.