Image shows the front entrance of Huakaiwaka, the Auckland Botanic Garden's visitor centre, against a deep blue sky. Two nikau palms stand in the foreground and planter boxes sprout with maroon coloured flax and yellow and orange flowers.

Huakaiwaka visitor centre

The gateway to the Gardens

With a welcoming entrance and sweeping panoramic views, Huakaiwaka is the gateway to the Gardens.

Opened in April 2005, the name Huakaiwaka was bestowed on the visitor centre by local tangata whenua – named for the ancestor of the Te Waiohua people.

Huakaiwaka features the integration of artworks and landscaping in its overall design. The entrance, with its vast wall of stone on one side and concrete on the other, is over a wide bridge spanning a water feature. It’s here that visitors are welcomed by Manu Torino, a sculpture by artist Fred Graham and engineer Rex Erikson depicting a flock of terns taking flight. Manu (bird) resonates in the local names of Manurewa and Manukau, and are welcome creatures in a garden.

Inspired by nature, architects designed tree-like columns to support the 'butterfly' roof floating above the spacious atrium.

The Visitor Centre landscape

The gardens surrounding Huakaiwaka have a South Pacific theme. Lush native and tropical plants give the feeling of a tropical climate. Upon arrival visitors will recognise the importance of the native Nikau Palm and its influence on the design of the building.

An avenue of Metrosideros ‘Vibrance’ (pohutukawa) flank the path leading from Huakaiwaka to the plant collections. This particular pohutakawa has been chosen for its upright narrow form and an amazingly heavy flower-set each December.


In 2005, Huakaiwaka was awarded a Creative Places Award for Best Built Environment, and won the Commercial and Industrial Building category award at the NZ Institute of Architects Resene Local Awards for Architecture.


The midsummer morning sun peeks through the glorious bright crimson blooms of a line of young pohutukawa in full flower. A concrete path runs alongside the trees to the Auckland Botanic Gardens visitor centre.