Botanical Hill

Summit of Botanical Hill

At only 147m, Botanical Hill is one of the smallest peaks on our list, and is positively tiny compared with many other South Island summits. However, as well as being a pleasant and easy walk located in the centre of Nelson, it has a peculiar claim to fame. The summit of Botanical Hill has a monument celebrating its claim of being the geographical centre of New Zealand. In fact, the true geographical centre of New Zealand is said to be 55km southwest in the Spooner Range, but Botanical Hill retains this honour due the fact it had the first trig station in the South Island, and further surveying radiated from this point. Botanical Hill also provides great views over Nelson and the surrounding area. (And it’s a great little peak for warming up the muscles ready for higher peaks further south!)

List Status Official
Elevation 147 m (482 ft)
Location/List South Island, New Zealand
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Location Coordinates 41° 16′ 22″ S, 173° 17′ 58″ E
Nearest Town/s Nelson
Geology Sedimentary
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 1 hour (return)
Distance 1.6 km (1 mi)
Start/End Points Cnr of Milton St and Hardy St East
Difficulty Help.gif Easy
Track conditions Help.gif Path
Season Help.gif All year
Sights Views , ‘Geographic Centre of New Zealand’, views of Nelson, plane table

Getting There

By Car or Walking

If you are staying in central Nelson accommodation, the start point for Botanical Hill is within walking distance. Simply follow Hardy or Bridge Streets to their eastern ends, and you will reach the sports fields of Botanical Reserve. The walk starts near the signposts and informational panels at the far side of the playing fields. There is also parking available in this area, on the roadside.

There are also taxi companies in Nelson which can drop you off.

Google Earth Map

NZ Topographic Map

Our Recommended Route

The short walk up Botanical Hill begins from the Botanical Reserve sports fields, located at the corner of Milton St and Hardy St East. The rugby field here was host to the first ever game of rugby played in New Zealand. The game was played on 14th May 1870, between Nelson College and Nelson Rugby Football club.

After walking across this historic ground, the track to Botanical Hill begins from near the information panels. The path is wide and well formed, and simply zigzags up the hill, with signage to guide your way. It’s suitable for all fitness levels, and this is great summit for peak bagging novices.

Allow about 40 minutes to an hour for the return trip, though it’s easy to sit at summit for quite a while longer and study the geography of the Nelson area!