Earthlore Garden


The Garden

Earthlore is an insect nature park in The Catlins, NZ where we encourage awareness of insects & nature with fun, hands-on interactive activities. The gardens are divided into several distinct areas, all with an insect theme.

PLEASE NOTE: Our video is targeting family and children - not our Garden Visits.

INSECT CONSERVATION HABITAT: Half of the property (5 acres) has been set aside as an Insect Conservation Habitat consisting of a series of plantings designed to meet the needs of a number of specific native insect species all year round, providing host plants for females to lay her eggs, food for winter as well as summer, good supply of fresh water and mineral pools for male butterflies to use for puddling during the mating season. We also provide rock cairns, leaf litter and log piles to provide shelter for the numerous ground dwelling insects found in The Catlins.

Within this Conservation Garden we have seperate areas set aside for preserving our native butterflies, an area for moths, a grassland habitat and two interlinked ponds for water insects. Once established a covenant will be drawn up to protect the Earthlore Insect Conservation Habitat garden in perpetuity.

The Insect Conservation Habitat Garden includes several threatened native plant species.

BUG CITY: Designed as a fun, educational garden for children, Bug City is a mini city where the town planners have put the needs of insects first. The city's gardens contain plants that are either rich in nectar, are host plants to specialist insects or provide food and/or shelter from the weather or predators. There are many rocks and logs (with mini letterboxes attached) to encourage children to roll up their sleeves and poke around to see who's living in the undergrowth. There are also lots of interesting "buggy buildings", informational signage and display gardens to highlight what you can do to conserve insects, so come and look to Bug City for inspiration when planning your own insect friendly garden.

FOOD FOREST:Our Bug Frisbee course is set within a developing food forest. Containing many different herbs, vegetables, fruit and nut trees (including old heirloom varieties, some of which were grafted from trees found in the orchards of old farmsteads in The Catlins). Our food forest also has many insect sculptures and information to look at along the way. Feel free to sample the produce but please, don't get lost in the maze! 

Press release  20th January 2011: The Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust is proud to announce that Earthlore, of Owaka in The Catlins, has been awarded certification as a shining example of butterfly garden/habitat.


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Garden Details

129 Hinahina Road, Owaka 9586
03-415 8455, mobile 027 385 3182
03-415 8455
Contact Person
Janine & Gordon Thompson
Strong public interest has prompted us to develop the enterprise into a business, and we now open the insect-themed activity park 12noon until 7pm Tuesday to Sunday during the summer months. Other times by arrangement.
Garden Size
Extensive planting and landscaping work was done on our 4-hectare block to create Earthlore, with about 2ha of revegetation planted specifically to attract insects.
We transformed 0.1ha into "Bug City", where everything is built from an insect's perspective.
$7-50 per adult. children under 12 yrs $5-00. Special rates for schools and group bookings.
Brochure Available?
Email Gordon or Janine - and we can post one out.
Yes - Off street parking for approximately 15 cars. Bus parking is available but we will need to be notified in advance.
You are welcome to pack a picnic and sit and enjoy the peace and beauty of Earthlore. There are picinc tables on site.
Dogs Allowed
Children Allowed
Yes - We have created a variety of activities to raise awareness of New Zealand's amazing insect life and a place where children can learn while having fun so yes, children are most welcome.
We can put together a package for school groups by arrangement.
Plants/Other Sales
There is a sales table of insect conservation plants and a small retail area selling seeds and a small array of insect related products.
Guided Tours
Yes we do a guided tour and talk about our gardens.
Other Facilities

PLANTS FOR INSECT CONSERVATION FOR SALE: Next to The Lunch Munch in Bug City there is a sales table displaying a number of host and food plants useful for insect conservation. We also have our own Earthlore brand of widflower pollinator and butterfly seed mixes for sale.

HABITAT SPONSORSHIP: Or you may wish to help conserve The Catlin's insects by sponsoring a plant in the Insect Conservation Habitat. Sponsorship costs $30 per plant, for which you will recieve a certificate naming the type of plant and who it is planted on behalf of.

BUG FRISBEE: Our version of Frisbee golf and heaps of fun. The Bug Frisbee course is set in our food forest and has nine numbered tee-off points with matching targets to aim for. The object of the game is to land your frisbee on the target in the least number of throws. There have been some pretty impressive low scores, not to mention some very impressive HIGH score sho on the course to date. Are you up to the challenge?

GYPSY CARAVAN: Built from scratch to a traditional design. Take a peek inside and you will find an assortment of gypsy-style clothes to choos from and if you wish, have a photo taken in costume.

INSPECTOR INSECTOR MYSTERY: Check Bug Central for the very latest insect mystery on the white board. Our resident super-sleuth Inspector Insector has a constant supply of insect mysteries to investigate, so if you feel up to the challenge grab a magnifying glass and head out to Bug City to help him solve it. We also have Insect Investigastor kits available for you to continue your investigation at home. The kit includes a magnifying glass, case file, P.I. licence and an offical notebook with badge - $30.00.

OUR ANIMALS: Earthlore is home to a number of larger animals too. Come and say hello to Dolly and Marama - our two donkeys. Check out Hoodwink Honker and the rest od the Chinese geese or Casper the Alpaca. And Elli-Baba and the rest of our black sheep will be curious to see you.

COMING SOON - "The Great Orlando's Magical Fles Circus" puppet show. Watch this space.