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Ugly Past, but Beautiful Present ... Centennial Gardens.


By dwyllis


When I was attending High School in the mid to late 1960s in Napier New Zealand, I had to park my bike at the bottom of a hill & trudge my way up to the top, where the school was. At the bottom of this hill, there was a terraced market-garden on one side & a huge rock quarry on the other, & both were worked on by prisoners with prison-guards watching over them. It was always horrible to arrive at the bottom of that hill late, because then one had to do the walk passed them on one’s very self-conscious own, to the accompaniment of wolf-whistling & ribald comments. The quarry was for prisoners doing Hard Labour …. something which is not heard of nowadays in NZ. Prisoners would break rock off that cliff-face for hours at a stretch, come freezing winter rain or blazing summer sunshine. At 17, I went to England with my English mother & although it was meant to be just a year’s holiday, I stayed on when my mother returned & it was some years before I went back for a four year stay. During that time away, a marvellous transformation had taken place in that quarry, & over the many years since then, this area has become an area of tranquil beauty, as you will see from the photos below. Remember ….. in the late 1960s, this was still an ugly quarry with prisoners swinging pickaxes to break up the cliff-face, & prisoners condemned to death up to the end of the 19th century being hung on gallows where the terraced market gardens used to be. The waterfall is totally man-made, but now with all the native shrubs covering what was formerly a bare rockface, it looks so natural …. as if it has been tumbling over that cliff with the long drop to the pool below for centuries. When we visited at the weekend, my husband was totally convinced it was a natural waterfall, until I showed him the huge pumps. I hope you all enjoy the tour of this lovely place with such an ugly past.

Below are pics of man-made waterfall, originally set against bare ugly rockface.

Photo below shows a pretty watercourse amongst the rocks, running into a pool below.

Pretty violas en masse.

Moss growing on rock walls near waterfall.

These lovely daisies are commonly found growing on the shingle beach in Napier …. great swathes of them in different colours covering the shingle & making it all look very pretty.

I don’t know what the official name of this plant is, but most people know it as Lobster Claw.

three decades ago, this cliff-face was just bare rock. Now it is smothered in native shrubs, giving the waterfall a very natural look.

Below is a pic of our native Renga Renga Lily, which a great many people in the North Island of NZ now have growing in their gardens. There is a dwarf variety too & it is evergreen.

Native Renga Renga Lily with native fern.

Below is a pic of our native Pohutukawa tree …. commonly known as the Maori Christmas Tree, as it comes into full bloom shortly before Christmas, when it is smothered in red flowers reminiscent of a small bottle-brush.

Native flax.

Small native palms.

Below is a closeup shot of one of our lovely striped ‘beach daisies’.

Old vines growing up the rockface in the shade.

Below is a small native white bottlebrush shrub.

I don’t know the name of this flower, but it is very pretty.

Yellow ‘beach daisies’.

closeup shot of native white bottle-brush shrub.

Below is a closeup shot of our native Pohutukawa tree, which is a very big tree when fully grown.

More blog posts by dwyllis

Previous post: A visit to Central Park in my Hometown of Napier New Zealand

Next post: Random Shots



Wow, Dwyllis, some stunning scenery shots there. You'd never believe it's past history, nor that the waterfall was man-made. Lovely interesting blog.

22 Nov, 2011


Absolutely beautiful.

22 Nov, 2011


What a lovely place to live Dwyllis,your so lucky,I would name that prisoners paradise.

23 Nov, 2011


How amazing how nature can complete what man has started. The plants that you have pictured, I am sure that you now see similar in our UK garden centres. This site continues with a surprise round every corner. Every picture tells a very interesting story. I do love your NZ Dwyliss

23 Nov, 2011


What a fantastic transformation! A lovely place to stroll in. :o)

23 Nov, 2011


Beautiful photos. Adding to GoYpedia Waterfalls :o)))

23 Nov, 2011


lovely job

23 Nov, 2011


Its a lovely place, one would never have believed such beauty could come from what you described earlier. Thankyou Dwyllis for telling us the history, your pics are a pleasure to look at and much appreciated...

23 Nov, 2011


What a fabulous place Dwyliss,that waterfall was amazing and the tree in the last pic. is beautiful.Your beach flowers remind me of gallardias and we also have some similar grasses with blue flowers on, which were given to us, so do not know the name.It must have taken you ages to do this blog,thankyou for showing it.

28 Nov, 2011


What a stunning place!

Rose - the blue flowers could be this...........

............or possibly one of the Libertia species.

29 Nov, 2011


The little blue flower on the flax/grass type plant is a NZ native & I have it growing in my own garden also. I will look up the name & add it below this sometime today.

29 Nov, 2011

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