Visit unique Earthlore

Open seven days from 10am until 4pm.

Phone (03) 415-8455 or (027) 385-3182, email or visit

If you’re holidaying in the Catlins this summer; make sure you take the time to visit Earthlore, the unique quirky 10 acre property created by Gordon and Janine Thompson.

This season, Earthlore offers a shuttle service to and from the Owaka Information Centre, and has added a gift shop selling thoughtfully sourced eco-based products as well as hot drinks and light snacks.

From its beginnings in 2007 as a revegetation project designed specifically to help conserve New Zealand insects, Earthlore has evolved to incorporate so many different features, that even its owners are hard pressed to pigeonhole their creation.

Part fun-park, part garden, part conservation habitat; all these come together to create a magical place that is difficult to portray in words and best experienced firsthand.

While half the property is still an ongoing native revegetation area (for which people are able to sponsor a tree-planting), the other half has developed into a series of themed gardens and activities where you will find the owners’ quirky sense of fun popping up at every turn.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in Bug City, a garden designed from an insect’s perspective, where there are miniature houses and brightly painted displays among plants chosen for their beneficial qualities for insects.

Advice is freely given on how you can encourage wildlife back into your own garden.

Initial plantings of fruit trees have now morphed into a developing food forest, where you can wander and discover many heritage and unusual edibles. This is also the setting for a fun nine-hole mini Frisbee golf course, insect themed of course.

Tucked in the gardens you will also find a traditional gypsy caravan built from scratch by Gordon. Inside is an array of costumes to dress up in for a fun photo opportunity.

Another quirky addition to Earthlore’s repertoire is the Great Orlando’s Magical Flea Circus, a good old-fashioned puppet show, full of colourful characters and set in the purpose built ‘‘Big Top’’.

The wildlife friendly gardens are now well established, with resident tui, bellbirds and kereru used to people coming and going. This provides ample viewing and photograph opportunities at close quarters. There are also donkeys, geese, black sheep, and so much more . . . you will just have to visit yourself.