North-east of Masterton, this hilly-farm-reclaimed-as-garden has been over forty years in the making for Allison and David James.   

Despite working full-time Allison is the chief gardener with David always in support with his digger at the ready and structural solutions.


486 Kaka Amu Road

Toilet available

Their garden has unfurled bit by bit with Allison pushing back boundary fences year after year to claim more garden from neighbouring paddocks. The terrain is steep and the soil dry.

Spothill is on an elevated site – around 1100ft above Masterton and as a result, climatic conditions can be harsh. Southerly blasts and sometimes snow were all challenges when planting began. Rabbit proofing was essential to help plants establish. On the plus side, an abundant water source from natural springs help keep the woodland garden lush in summer.

Today, the mature rhododendrons, camellias, viburnums and dogwoods offer welcome shade in hotter months.  An avenue of copper beech trees and Portugese laurel offer stunning red foliage in autumn.  Allison is drawn to maples too and loves to see the seasons change through their leaves.

Recent developments include a newly planted area where David removed four mature macrocarpa trees in April. This has opened up light and space for a freshly planted corner and wide pathways.

There are 10 seats scattered throughout – perfectly placed to rest and contemplate the vistas. BYO picnics are welcome. Look for Big Ellie and Baby Ed – a family of corrugated iron elephants perfectly at home.

This is the first time Spothill has opened for Pūkaha’s Wairarapa Garden Tour. Allison has a wealth of plant knowledge and is a passionate and energetic gardener. We’re so grateful to Allison and David for sharing their garden on the 2021 tour.

Hilly and steep in some places, closed in flat shoes are advised when you visit Spothill.