Hi from Barry and Maree.

We are the new owners of The Lignite Pit Cafe and Secret Garden, on the Southern Scenic Route, approx 20km east of Invercargill, at 15 Ashers Road.

What we have here

Hidden from the view of the Gorge Road - Invercargill Highway, or even from our car park, is a landscape which has been transformed from a disused mine to a tranquil garden.

Covid Hours

At present we are holding Wednesday coffee morning from 10:30. Fresh home baked muffins will be available.

The camping area is open all year round.

Garden View

The Cafe

The Cafe looks over the garden and lake. So while you sit back and relax enjoying a coffee and a selection of Maree's home baking, you can take in the vista that is our garden, or enjoy a game of chess or one of the other games.

The Cafe is also home to Perky Parrots your Bird specialist for your feathered pets needs, from cages to toys, food to medicine and supplements to keep them happy and healthy.
We have a number of treats for enticing the wild birds to your property.
Our Suppliers include Topflite and Vetafarm to name a couple.

Also it is home to Woolez hand made has a number of home made knitted and crocheted products, spinning wheels, weaving looms and wools from Ashford Handicrafts.


The Garden

There are a number of paths that wind themselves around the lake, where you take your time to explore the native flora, fauna and our aviaries dotted around the place.
There has been a number of weddings taken place in and around the garden. There are plenty of spots to choose from for you special day.Garden View

Night View

Covered Garden

We have a 22m by 11m covered tunnel house surrounded in gardens for your event that can seat about 100, or be a back up venue for your wedding if the the weather doesn't smile on your day.

Covered Garden


We can accept Self Contained vehicles. We now have 4 powered site and space for several unpowered campers.

We only have a toilet and a little kitchenette present, but are looking at adding showers and a better kitchen area in the future.

Camping Area at Dusk

A Little History

The garden started as a dream for Dave and Maria Sanderson back in 2004, when the family got in a digger and started to remove the rubbish from the flooded lignite pit.

Seven years of hard work and love later, they have transformed the disused lignite pit into the nature friendly habitat is it today. With several paths that weave their way around and over the pond, you can spend hours enjoying the beauty and nature around the 17 acres of the gardens.

When Dave and Maria decided to retire to spend more time with their family, my now wife Maree was looking for a wedding venue and came across this tranquil garden and decided the easiest way to book the wedding venue was to buy it. So with the help of Maree’s parents Charlie and Eunice we are taking over the responsibility of keeping up the high standards that Dave and Maria have set.

So come in and enjoy a coffee and snack while taking in the vista overlooking the pond and gardens.

Our opening hours are 11:00am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday, otherwise by prior arrangement.

Coal Cart