It's business as usual at iconic Hawke's Bay garden Trelinnoe Park despite the sale of the 1131ha station on which it was established.

But the 11ha garden, now on a separate title and subject to a covenant meaning it must be retained as a country park, is still on the market.

"It's still open to the public and people can come here any time they want," said Bruce Wills, who grew up on the property, on Old Coach Rd off State Highway 5 near Te Pohue and which was bought by his late parents, John and Fiona Wills, in 1956 and developed from scratch, including a global search for species and ideas for its gardens.

"We spent 20 years crushing scrub," he said yesterday at the property, where he is remaining pending other opportunities to continue a lifestyle of board meetings and other governance.


It means the former Federated Farmers national president, who now chairs Apiculture NZ and sits on boards as diverse as Ravensdown and the Todd Foundation, is out of the region three or four days a week — Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin this week, for example.

With a bit of an interest in architecture, he's always wanted to go hands-on in building his own home and has the spies out looking.

"A special place anywhere within 30 to 40 minutes of an airport," he said.

The garden had been that special place, with an international reputation as one the biggest private collection of species in the southern hemisphere, and with over 165,000 visitors to the attraction and its cafe over the years.

It has so far failed to attract what Wills said would be a special buyer, despite international marketing which started in 2015, but he is confident that the right people will emerge at some stage.

The station has been bought by a specially formed investment group, put together by a Hawke's Bay farmer, and is now run by him and his family. The primary investor is an Auckland financier and the Wills family retains an interest.