Relax and be inspired

by wonderful vistas that connect you with nature and the rhythm of life,
in a garden for all seasons!

About Flaxmere Garden

Flaxmere has been made a Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Garden Trust which is affiliated to the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and given the rating of 6 stars.

Over 50 years ago on a North Canterbury sheep farm, the garden at Flaxmere was established, boldly designed to frame breath taking mountain vistas, and create sense of tranquility with a series of ponds.

Situated near the Southern Alps, Flaxmere has developed into a stunning example of a garden that evolves with the seasons, splendid throughout the year.

This is a large country garden based on the principles of strong design, is completely in tune with the terraced riverbed country the garden is part of. Flaxmere's vistas have been described as 'art forms'.

Immense use of water creating a series of five ponds, gives a sense of enormous peace, and ensures wonderful bird life. Heavy old bridge timbers have been used and stone walls have been built over the years which add to the country style. This is a garden that has most things, formal, informal, extensive area of New Zealand native plants, woodlands, roses, rhododendrons and water.

Visitors from around the world have been welcomed for many years.

Garden Tours

A garden that is breathtakingly bold in its design, Flaxmere reflects the change of seasons with each spelling its own magic.

Groups and Free Independent Travellers are welcome. Bookings are essential. Morning and Afternoon tea, lunches as well as guided tours with Penny Zino are available upon request.



September - November

Thousands of daffodils and an abundance of flowering cherry trees, create the essence of spring. Masses of primula candelabra, rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips, blue bells, and clematis follow in October and November.



December - February

Roses everywhere herald the summer and combined with the water irises and lilies make the garden look its unforgettable best in early December.



March - May

Flaxmere was planted with autumn colour in mind. Mid April - mid May is a blaze of reds, oranges and yellows, providing a flamboyant flourish before winter sets in.



June - August

The bones of the garden become apparent, and it is Ikebana time. Set against the background of the snow covered Southern Alps it is Penny's favourite time. There is a peacefulness that belies a year's toil; and the garden is asleep.

A slice of New Zealand

Native Plantings at Flaxmere

New Zealand indigenous plantings at Flaxmere surround a large pond with a vista to Mt Te Koa.

This is a very different part of the garden which strikes a point of difference.
It is an area that all overseas visitors are particularly interested in.

Native planting
Native planting
Native planting
Native planting
Native planting

Flaxmere Garden
– 50 years of extremes

The book

Years of record breaking droughts, ferocious winds, searing summer temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius, along with harsh frosts and freezing winters of -15 degrees Celsius are not ideal conditions to create a 6-star Garden of National Significance.

Flaxmere Garden 50 years of extremes tells the captivating story of how Penny and John Zino battled the extremes to successfully create the 3.2 hectare garden that attracts about 4000 visitors from New Zealand and around the world each year.

Lavishly illustrated with over 80 pages of full-colour images, Flaxmere Garden 50 years of extremes shares Penny’s design philosophy, along with her choice of plants and planting combinations, and her valuable insights gained from fifty years creating an award-winning garden in a challenging environment. The theme of extremes also relates to how the personal circumstances of the Zino family shaped the development of the garden.

Flaxmere Garden 50 years of extremes is a beautifully illustrated inspirational story, and a source of practical advice for garden designers facing challenging environments. The book, published on 15 October 2017, may be purchased directly from Penny for $45 including postage and packing.

Purchase Book
Flaxmere garden – 50 years of extremes Cover

Imagine your special day in this secluded, romantic, country retreat.

Weddings at Flaxmere

Weddings at Flaxmere are a real joy.

You are spoilt for choice for a location within the garden, different areas offering wonderful opportunities to create your own exclusive garden wedding.

It is a photographer’s dream, vistas of countryside complete with rustic gates, an arched bridge, brick pathways, stone walls and flowers to suit the seasons.

This is a venue where you can use all your creative talents to make this day your own, amongst idyllic surroundings with stunning mountainous backdrops.

Whether it be a small intimate wedding or a large gathering, Flaxmere can cater for all occasions.

Photograph By: Tracy Allsop

Enquire about having your wedding at Flaxmere

There is something incredibly special about Flaxmere Garden, not only is it visually stunning, but Penny Zino was more than helpful and accommodating. Always welcoming and open to all our ideas, we could not have chosen a better venue.

Beks Raiwali - Christchurch

Flaxmere Gardens is the perfect wedding venue. The garden itself is amazing with different themes, and on a summer’s day, there is no better place to be. There is a cottage to stay for preparing and guests are welcome to camp the night which is a big relief after a party. Whether it is by the pool, next to the pond or on the hilltop, Flaxmere is a venue that you and your guests will never forget.

Maurice Wills - Kyrgyzstan

We loved Flaxmere so much that both our daughters were married there: one in a storm and one on a perfect summer’s day. In both cases the location was unbelievably romantic and secluded. It is a truly wonderful place for photography, the bridal party can be filmed in a lush garden setting or a beautiful Canterbury farm scene. Penny Zino the owner and host of Flaxmere, was unfailingly organised, perceptive and felt like a family friend to us. Honestly it is perfection if you are looking for beauty, privacy and space for guests to gather. The marquee looked gorgeous in its surroundings, finishing off a perfect day.

Nicola L. - Christchurch

Flaxmere Cottage

A cottage is available for rent to those wishing to relax within the magical gardens of Flaxmere, or those wishing to have space to prepare for, and celebrate on that special day.

Flaxmere's Cottage is wonderfully set on the edge of a pond within the garden and presents:

  • 2 bedrooms, with room to sleep 4
  • Open plan kitchen dinning and livingroom
  • Wood burner
  • Private bathroom
  • Sunny veranda with outside table and chairs
  • Free wifi

Flaxmere is close to superb fishing on the Hurunui River and is only 1 hour from Christchurch International Airport.

We would love you to come and enjoy the absolute quietness of this beautiful part of the world to gain a sense of peace amongst the wonderful bird life.

Cottage veranda


Hurunui Garden Festival 2021

Hurunui Garden Festival is an opotunity to explore private gardens of North Canterbury. As part of the festival, Flaxmere Garden is the venue of a number of events set to educate, entertain and inspire you. For more information check out

Dates: 28th - 31st October

Bookings are essential
Email Penny:
Phone: (03) 314 4504 or 027 2100 958

Naturalistic Summer Plantings

The theory and reality

Over the years Robyn and Penny have travelled a lot together the first trip being to a workshop with Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury at Piet’s home in Hummelo in Holland, with a tour of the northern Dutch Provincial gardens included. It offered a new way of thinking not seen here in New Zealand.

Since then there have been many other ventures together and the last to Spain again with Noel Kingsbury. Every time what has interested us the most is how adaptable this way of gardening is to our climate particularly here in Canterbury.

We would like to share those experiences, and help others to see the benefits of merging gardens into a landscape. There are some pitfalls and by seeing what Penny has created as a result we hope will benefit others.

Robyn Kilty

Robyn Kilty

Penny Zino

Penny Zino

Flaxmere is one of those very rare gardens that achieves a perfect balance between diverse plantsmanship and convicted design. There’s interesting plants everywhere you look, but it’s clear that in every case, they serve the bigger purpose of creating a rhythmic opening and closing of magical garden spaces, and the framing of stupendous vistas

Michael McCoy - Landscape Designer writer and TV presenter of Austrailia

This beautiful garden is a joy to visit, designed with a balance of formal and romantic elements, and superbly planted with a glorious array of native and exotic plants. It combines expectation with surprise, each area entices you to explore the next, and all the time you are aware of the magnificent scenery beyond the garden. Penny Zino is a warm and welcoming hostess, a great communicator and a gardener who loves to share her garden and extensive gardening knowledge acquired over many years. I took a group from Renaissance Tours (Sydney) as part of a tour of New Zealand gardens in 2013 and Flaxmere was voted a highlight by everyone.

Fiona Ogilvie - garden writer, The Land NSW

Visitor Information

Well Renowned

Flaxmere has been selected by the NZ Garden Trust as a Garden of International Significance and given the rating of 6 stars.


Flaxmere Garden is just 10km from Hawarden.

It is a short detour enroute to Hanmer Springs from Christchurch, or a short detour enroute to Kaikoura via the Inland or Leader Roads.


Penny is available for guided tours on request.

Morning and afternoon tea, as well as lunch can also be provided with prior arrangement.

Enquire about touring Flaxmere

Local Businesses

We have put a list of local business together to make your trip to Flaxmere easier.


Cheltenham House

Country Stay Motels B&B, Waikari

Phone:(03) 314-4931

Culverden Motels

Phone:(03) 315 8350
6 units available

Drifters Inn, Hanmer Springs

Bentleys Country Stay

Phone:(03) 314-4144 or 0274 311222

Keretu Downs

Phone:(03) 314-4584


Judy and John McMillan, Glenlea Waikari.
Phone:(03) 314-4149

Hanmer Holiday Homes

Heritage Hanmer Springs

Freephone: 0800 368 888

Hurunui River Retreat

Phone: (03) 424-4476

Hurunui Village Cottages

Freephone: 0508 487 868

Village Lake

Woodgrove Homestead
Luxury B&B, Hawarden

Phone:(03) 314-4407

Warm Cosy Modern Country
Woolshed Hurunui

Pamper Yourself

Spa Lodge at Hanmer Springs

Marquee & Hire companies


Happy Hire

Hyde Park Hire

Johnson & Couzins Hire

Peter May

Kiwitipi Rentals Ltd

Hayden Doel
Phone: (03) 349-5823 or 021 0283 1428


Country Feasts

Lizzies Cuisine

Verve Catering

Victoria Food Service

White Tie Catering


Film & Live stream

Grant Mangin

Phone: 027 435 9422

Let's Get In Touch!

Open by appointment only. Bookings are essential.

Flaxmere is situated off Lake Sumner Rd. Just follow the signs from Hawarden.

If travelling from the south, turn off at Waikari and follow this route.

If travelling from the north, turn off the highway at Hawarden Hurunui Rd and follow this route.

Contact Penny Zino
Phone: +64 (3) 314 4504
Mobile: +64 (27) 2100 958

128 Westenras Road,
Hawarden 7385,
North Canterbury