Twin forests

A distinctive urban forest.

Exotic trees and native plants are living together in this inner-city setting.

The deciduous woodland landscape originally created in the cemetery had a similar atmosphere to the extensive English Landscape School gardens created in Britain during the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.

The oak trees here, at around 150 years old, are becoming old and vulnerable in Auckland – but could be solid, mature trees in a European setting.

Other deciduous trees from the northern hemisphere in the cemetery gully are Holm oaks, Japanese elms, and poplars.

In the past, weeding operations have removed sycamores, Trees of Heaven, Privet and Port Jackson figs.

A giant Moreton Bay Fig, planted probably in the mid 1800s, is still standing. Charles Moore, the Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens visited New Zealand in 1850, which would have seeded the idea of an exchange of seedling for experimental plantings in each location.

Many of the indigenous trees here were also planted, by volunteers from as early as 1876.

The oldest pōhutukawa and pūriri trees are estimated to be at least 120 years old .

Botanical donations sought

An ad in New Zealand Herald 13 June 1876:


The Trustees will be glad to receive contributions of Trees and Shrubs suitable for Ornamental Planting of the Cemetery. Persons disposed to aid the improvement of the ground in this direction will oblige by kindly intimating their wish.


Hon. Sec.

Office: Hobson’s Buildings

Shortland Street, June 7, 1876.

  • <p>Most of the original forest in Grafton Guly was lost when Auckland grew. </p><p>Painting of Grafton Gully and Auckland. Artist unknown c1880s. Ref: E-943-q-008-1. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.</p>
  • <p>The bush in Grafton Gully was vigurously regenerating in the 1905.</p><p>Photograph by Alfred H Burton, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, negative number 1234.</p>
  • <p>When the motorway was built, a large section of regenerated bush with high botanical value, was lost.</p>
  • <p>The forest now is a mix of exotic and native trees.</p>