Considering this area had just emerged from a severe, two year drought, it was very pleasing to view such beautiful gardens and lush countryside.

Credit must go to the garden owners for presenting their gardens to such a high standard with plants showing no signs of having been stressed as a result of dryness.

Couriers provided very interesting commentaries on the region, one which is rich in farming history.

Hanmer proved an ideal base for conference. Many delegates took the opportunity to take a dip in the thermal pools on the free evening. A walk through Queen Mary hospital grounds was interesting, especially after listening to a talk given by Dr Graeme Schrivener, the lunchtime speaker on day two.

A Past NZRA President, Gordon Bailey was the keynote speaker on opening night. He gave us an insight into how treacherous plant hunting can be in the remote areas of the Chinese mountains.

Thank you to the organising committee and helpers for a wonderful event. Some of these folk were not NZRA members so had never attended any of our conferences. NZRA are most grateful for the time and energy they put into making this conference possible at quite short notice.

Just ten days after conference concluded the Kaikoura earthquake, 7.8 in magnitude, hit. The impact on many of the properties we visited was immense. Huge walls of land rose, new lakes were formed and houses were trashed. Our thoughts immediately went out to the people whose gardens we visited, some of whom were the main organisers of our conference. We hope those who were affected are now on the road to recovery and can see brightness at the end of the tunnel.

Joy O’Keefe


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