Whangārei's Quarry Garden is sparking overseas attention with the Toowoomba mayor visiting the site yesterday.
The mayor of the Australian city (population 140,000) Paul Antonio initiated contact to get advice on how best to restore an abandoned quarry in Toowoomba.
Antonio said he had never been to Whangārei but had heard a lot about its Quarry Gardens and the interest it had gained.
"From what I understand it was the volunteers who gave this place the drive and I would hope that's something we could do back in Toowoomba," Antonio said.
Last month he met WQG general manager David McDermott and WQG founder Laughton King in Toowoomba for an initial discussion.
Yesterday, the mayor flew to Whangārei from Auckland with Toowoomba Regional Council chief executive Brian Pidgeon and commercial development manager Bill Sankey.
Antonio said restoring Toowoomba's Bridge St quarry had been a community dream for 40 years. The operation had ceased in 1993 but talk about transforming the 17ha site into a quarry garden started well before then.
The group were given a tour of the gardens before meeting Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai for lunch.
Mai said for the Quarry Gardens to be acknowledged abroad was a huge kudos to the people who had worked hard for years and years and held a vision.
"We will continue to build an ongoing relationship with Toowoomba and invitations to future events have already been extended both ways."
Whangārei's Quarry Gardens has been running for 20 years. The visitor centre and Quail Cafe was built in November 2015 and has since grown interest.
Antonio said was impressed to see Whangārei's volunteer model in action and how it all worked.
"I think in order to develop, and more importantly maintain a space like this, it's crucial the community takes ownership."
He said it was still early days for their developments and had not yet been included in their future budget.
"We still have a lot of work we need to do. We need to study the traffic flow, check we have the adequate water for it and that it can actually happen."
But Antonio said it was all part of an overall economic development plan to build tourism in the region.
"The mayors of South-East Queensland have a dream to host Olympic Games in 2032 and infrastructure is an important part of that."
The Toowoomba delegates will also travel to Rotorua to check out the tourist mountain biking there before popping over to visit its sister city, Whanganui.