The Time Traveller’s Guide to Hamilton Gardens

Author & Photographer

Note about the author

Peter Sergel was first asked to produce a plan for Hamilton Gardens in 1978. There was just one small problem; no budget had been set aside to implement it, so it was destined, like many other plans, to gather dust on a shelf somewhere until someone decided it was time to tidy up. However, Peter and others set up a series of committees and trusts to raise funds for development. His subsequent professional career directly involved in the Gardens spanned a period of 43 years. Initially just involved in designing new gardens, seeking community support and fundraising, between 1995 and 2020 he was the first director of Hamilton Gardens, responsible for its day-to-day operation as well as its promotion, design, and development.

His expertise in the field of garden design and the history of gardens has been recognised with a Royal Arch academic scholarship, overseas speaking engagements and an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato, but that certainly shouldn’t give you the impression that he’s an intellectual. Now retired with his beltline inevitably moving up to his armpits, and with his memory and dreams of Hollywood fading, he’s attempting to learn new skills, like how to be patient.

Note about the photographer – and publisher

Grant Sheehan first visited Hamilton Gardens in 2015, during the making of his book Eye in the Sky: A Drone above New Zealand and was very impressed with what he saw there then. The opportunity to photograph all of the existing gardens in 2023 was one he relished, and he is pleased to have published The Time Traveller’s Guide to Hamilton Gardens, under his Phantom House Books imprint.

Sheehan is an award-winning photographer, based in Wellington. The documentary about his career, Grant Sheehan: Light, Ghosts and Dreams, shown at the 2023 New Zealand International Film Festival, featured several of the collection at Hamilton Gardens.


Phantom House Books
PO Box 6385
Marion Street
New Zealand


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