Maui Nui Botanical Gardens adds audio tour

Kahului’s Maui Nui Botanical Gardens (MNBG) is now offering a way for visitors to explore the garden with their sense of hearing for the first time since howling baboons populated the old Maui Zoo grounds. The new program made possible by the Leiter Family Foundation takes visitors on a digital audio tour through the Hawaiian plant collections while emphasizing Hawaiian ethno-botanical and conservation values.

The tour starts at the garden’s entrance and gives a history about the garden and founding of the non-profit. Numbered plant signs guide tour-goers as the audio track, narrated by KPOA radio personality and MNBG volunteer Alaka’i Paleka, provides plant information on the garden’s collection.

Fascinating plant information? Sign me up immediately, you say? Well hang on, it’s even more interesting than you imagine. Participants in the audio tour will learn, among many other things, that the endemic ‘ākia (Wikstroemia uva-ursi) was used by Hawaiian fishermen to stun fish. The plant was ground up and thrown in tide pools, making it easy for fishermen to selectively collect fish.

See, plants really are cool.

This program was made possible by the Leiter Family Foundation, which has been a frequent supporter of MNBG’s education programs over the years. Through this $5,000 grant, ten audio wands were purchased and the tour will help generate funds for the non-profit organization.

Audio wands are available for rent for $5 each and available while the gardens are open freely to the public, Mondays through Saturdays from 8am to 4pm. In addition to the audio tours, docent-guided tours are available for those who would like to stroll through the garden with their own tour guide. For more information call 808-249-2798, email or visit

Photo courtesy of MNBG