Auckland Zoo’s curator of horticulture, Hugo Baynes, has won Landscaping New Zealand’s supreme award for the NZ precinct, Te Wao Nui – the zoo’s largest ever project.
Along with winning the Landscape of the Year Award and three golds - for Landscape Design, Horticulture, and Garden Management, Te Wao Nui also won the Best Sustainable Landscape, Best Use of Native Plants, Best Horticulture, and Best Garden Management (large project) awards.
The overall award recognised consistency in quality and excellence throughout the planning, planting and maintenance of Te Wao Nui’s habitats - The Coast, The Islands, The Wetlands, The Forest, and The High Country.
Judges said: “This design shows sensitivity and expertise at all levels and results in a magical journey for visitors that highlights the very best and special natural character of New Zealand. Zoos are much more than animals! The renewed focus on flora, as well as fauna, is extraordinary and educational…and the planting design of this space is inspirational.”
According to Baynes, it was a truly collaborative effort.
"The zoo’s horticultural team and Natural Habitats contractors did a superb job helping install the landscape on a canvas beautifully designed and compiled by designer Logan Brewer and proudly built by NZ Strong. It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a real joy to be involved in a project where New Zealand native flora and fauna are showcased in representative iconic habitats, that by their very nature, encourage visitors to explore, connect and protect our natural heritage."
Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken says local and overseas visitors have flocked to see Te Wao Nui since it opened last September – a major catalyst for the zoo attracting a record 710,000 visitors in the 12 months ended June 30.
The Landscapes of Distinction Awards are a biennial event that recognise excellence in the fields of landscape design, construction and maintenance, encompassing commercial and residential projects.
The Best Residential Project Award went to the Edmonds residence in Christchurch by Goom Landscapes, while Best Commercial Project was awarded to Peukerau Nursery.
Goom Landscapes also snagged the Best Special Feature for the Clarkson residence and Strass Landscapes nabbed Best Landscape Construction – Large Project for the Sargisson Garden.