Waitakaruru Arboretum has been in the process of development since 1991; this is a rehabilitation of a disused quarry.
The owners, John & Dorothy Wakeling, initiated this project and currently employ one full-time arboretum curator, Derek Turnwald, and some part-time staff to maintain the Park.
This 17.5 ha (42 acre) hillside site provides panoramic vistas over the fertile Waikato valley. The site contains intimate tree-enclosed spaces and interesting landforms including towering cliffs, rocks, a stream, many ponds, and small waterfalls. More than 18,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, representative of fl ora from many parts of the world.
The first sculpture park event held here was in November 2003 when 47 sculptures were displayed as part of the “Window on Waikato” fundraiser on behalf of Hospice Waikato.
The attractive outdoor setting, ease of vehicular access to place large sculptures, and security all proved to be assets not easily provided in other locations. The idea of providing a venue for sculpture grew out of that success.
The Sculpture Park & Arboretum has been open every day since November 2004, each year holding a full annual programme of exhibitions. Opening weekends have supported various charities including St.John, Oxfam and Parentline.
The quarry cliffs and pond provide the visual and acoustic setting for musical performances.
In the year to May 2010, 8900 people visited the park.
The Waikato Sculpture Trust was formed in May 2007. The sculpture exhibitions in the Park are organized by the Trust Board.