Butterfly & Orchid Garden in Thames

It’s not a flash place the Butterfly & Orchid Garden in Thames, and don’t be put off if you get an unenthusiastic welcome from the cranky guy who runs the onsite holiday park. There is a garden full of butterflies waiting to cheer you up.

Nature's work

Nature’s work

It would be a hard job counting them but a sign says there are around 400 butterflies in the house. Given that a butterfly flutters around for generally less than a month, around 500 are bred onsite every four weeks. Another 500 or so come in chrysalis form from Asia, South America and the Philippines. The butterflies are kept in quarantine until they hatch and are then transferred to Thames. Sounds an expensive process, but entry to the garden is only $12, so maybe not.

Chilli powered

Chilli powered

The big owl butterfly is unusual with its owl like eye spot, they’re typically seen in the Amazon Rainforest and they’d certainly blend in among the branches.

Owl butterfly - a big eye spot that looks like an owl's eye. Likes to eat rotten bananas.

Owl butterfly – a big eye spot that looks like an owl’s eye. Likes to eat rotten bananas.

I’m still amazed by the life cycle of a butterfly, all that eating and effort to create something so delicate that only lives to flutter for a few short days or weeks. C’est la vie.

Very hungry caterpillars

Very hungry caterpillars

They're matching, once eggs are laid they'll be dispatching

They’re matching, once eggs are laid they’ll be dispatching

With all the dispatching you may expect the place to be littered with dead butterflies, I don’t remember seeing one. I’m wondering if the little finches flitting about act like vacumn cleaners, or maybe the butterflies are collected?

A rare moment when the finch wasn't flitting around

A rare moment when the finch wasn’t flitting around

The other thing I didn’t notice was orchids, it was all about the butterflies for me. It’s a lovely garden environment though with a tropical temperature in the late 20’s, making it an especially good stop on a cold day. Note that the garden closes for a winter break from June – August, see Facebook for exact dates.

Social butterflies

Social butterflies

Blue Morpho butterfly

Blue Morpho butterfly

Sitting on a seat watching the birds and butterflies flit around was a peaceful world to get lost in for a while. I resisted the urge to take photos immediately as sometimes it’s good to just be in the moment rather than behind a lens trying to capture it. Inevitably though I started clicking away, time is short, especially if you’re a butterfly.

The butterfly dance

The butterfly dance

Unusual wing design

Unusual wing design

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Details
Entry to the Butterfly & Orchid Garden on Victoria Street is $12 adults, $6 children.
As mentioned above the garden closes June – August, see Facebook for exact dates.
Usual opening times 9.30am – 4.30pm, but may vary.

Other Butterfly Gardens
Butterfly Creek near Auckland Airport.
See Monarch butterflies at West Lynn Garden in West Auckland.
Tropical Forest (blog post) at Otago Museum in Dunedin

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