Prior to the 1931 earthquake, this site was on a stretch of higher ground forming part of the Ahuriri Lagoon. Here was the home of Charles Dugal Kennedy, a qualified civil engineer who planned part of the Old Coach Road to Taupo opened in 1874. Kennedy later became a barrister and solicitor, and he was a partner in the syndicate that undertook the reclamation of Napier South.
The rose gardens opened in 1951. Many more roses have been planted over the years, and the collection now encompasses 5000 individual roses - 500 named varieties covering bush, standards, weeping, climbing and prostrate rose forms.
A 90-metre long display of climbing roses is a prominent feature of the gardens.
The rose display usually peaks around mid-November, although blooms can be enjoyed from October through to April.
Camping holidays became increasingly popular in the 1930s, a result of the growth of private motoring. In 1937, three acres (a little more than a hectare) were purchased in Marewa for a "Municipal Camping Ground". The park was extended to its present size in 1942.
In the early years, travellers could stay in obsolete tramcars from the Napier Tramway System, which had been abandoned after the 1931 earthquake. The tramcar bodies were finally destroyed in the mid-1950s.
Large eucalypts are all that remain of the original trees surrounding the Kennedy homestead.
Parking is available along the Russell Road frontage.
Storkey Street, Marewa
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