The then Pietermaritzburg Botanical Garden was opened in 1874 with the aim of growing plants for distribution in the colony of Natal, collecting indigenous plants for exchange and collecting rare and beautiful plants. Today the National Botanical Institute is the present custodian of the Gardens and aim to conserve living plants that are representative of the East Coast Region of South Africa.
Over 150 species of birds and countless insect species inhabit that extensive indigenous vegetation that that also includes several wetland areas. A special feature is the fascinating “Useful Plants Garden” that displays plants that are used for medicinal purposes, crafts and foods by the Zulu people. Given the numbers of people that visit the gardens, birds are often relaxed providing excellent opportunities for photography.