Garden and Photography Guidelines

What is a Botanic Garden?

A brief description of a Botanic Garden

“Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”

(as defined by BGCI)

What is the Difference between a Park and a Botanic Garden?

Whilst a park is typically an area of public open space land used for recreation, a botanic garden is primarily, according to Prof. Donal McCracken, for

‘… accumulating botanical and horticultural knowledge (research) and disseminating that knowledge (information and education)’

Garden Guidelines



ENTRY NUMBERS are RESTRICTED TO 2,000 at any given time.

PICNICS for a maximum of 30 people (no décor); PHOTOSHOOTS for small family groups before 17h15 are permitted.



The Durban Botanic Gardens is Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden that is dedicated to connecting people, plants and culture. The following guidelines are aimed to assist our visitors to have an enjoyable experience of the Gardens whilst helping to ensure that the Gardens as a City public asset remains a place of excellence in keeping with our City’s bylaws. Please note that these guidelines take precedent over all previous guidelines.

Alcohol: The Gardens is a public space and no drinking of alcohol is permitted unless it is within a dedicated space as part of an approved event. No drinking is permitted in the car park.

Balloons: No balloons of any kind are permitted in the Gardens as they are a hazard to birds and other wildlife and are not eco-friendly.

Balls and bicycles: Active sports and games including ball games, bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, frisbees etc. are not permitted in the Gardens in the interest of visitor safety and the protection of our living collections. Parents are encouraged to explore more nature-based play opportunities for their children that is conducive within the Gardens environment.

Benches: Many of our benches are legacy benches and some have been installed in memory of loved ones. No vandalism or defacing of benches will be tolerated and no sleeping or lying on benches is allowed.

Dogs: The Gardens is a perfect place to walk your dog! Please ensure that your dog is kept on a leash at all times and that you clean up any mess that your dog leaves behind. Kindly do not allow your dog to chase wildlife or interfere with other visitors.

Drones: Leave the flying to the birds! Drones and other remotely controlled aircraft are not allowed unless a permit is issued.

Hawkers are not permitted to trade at the Gardens. If you see a hawker, please report them to Security on site or notify the Information Office.

Litter: Please be responsible for your own litter and help us keep the Gardens looking clean. We encourage you to be an active citizen: help pick up any litter you see lying around you, take your litter home with you or deposit it in one of the bins provided.

Noise: Our visitors appreciate the peace and quiet of the Gardens. Please be mindful of other visitors around you and refrain from playing music or making excessive noise in the Gardens and parking areas, especially from various electronic devices.

Notice boards: No notices may be attached to the notice boards without prior permission. Preference will be given to botanically related events.

Photography and filming: We welcome photographers to the Gardens. Please note that photos that are taken of a personal nature e.g. wedding, nature, family etc. do not require a permit, however any photography or filming of a commercial nature will require a permit that can be obtained from the Information Office.

Picnics & parties: The Gardens is the perfect place to have a small traditional garden picnic with friends and family. When doing so, please note the following guidelines:

  • Informal picnics and small parties are permitted for up to a maximum of 20 people. If your picnic is larger than 20 people, you will need to contact the Gardens Information Office to enquire about booking a venue to host your party.
  • If you are planning a picnic, you are permitted to bring in a maximum of one foldup table and 10 chairs. Please note that we no longer allow wooden pallets into the Gardens.  This is due to a little insect called the Shot Hole Borer which is destroying trees in South Africa.  All items brought in for a picnic must be removed directly after the picnic.
  • Please note that additional structures e.g. gazebos, children’s play equipment, bunting and flags are not permitted.
  • In keeping with the natural green theme of the Gardens, confetti and petal scattering is not permitted.
  • We encourage you to take advantage of the shade provided by our beautiful trees. No fires or cooking is allowed.

All other guidelines will apply.

Plants and Living Creatures: Please help protect the plants and living creatures in the Gardens that are here for the enjoyment, research and education of all our visitors.

  • No climbing trees, picking flowers or fruits, removing or pruning of plants is allowed. Please also refrain from entering cultivated areas/plant beds or the enclosed plant display area of the Orchid House.
  • We do support school learners and tertiary level students who require access to plant material as part of their studies. Should you require a Plant & Living Creatures Permit for research or study purposes, please email the Gardens Information Office well in advance in order that we might assist you.
  • Wildlife is an intricate part of our ecosystem and we do not allow wildlife to be chased, caught or removed from the Gardens.  If you notice an injured animal, please inform the Information Office.
  • Feeding bread to birds is bad for their health. We recommend that you feed them the preferred duck food which is available for purchase at the Gift Shop.
  • Please do not feed the fish and note that no fishing is allowed.
  • Please do not feed the monkeys, no matter how cute they may look!
  • No animals are permitted to be left or abandoned at the Gardens.

Safety & Security: The Durban Botanic Gardens has 24 hour roaming security. In the event of an emergency during office hours, please contact the Information Office on 031 322 4021.  For assistance after hours, please contact the Security Control Room on 031 700 9190.

  • Please ensure that your vehicle is securely locked and that valuables are not left visible in your car. Please safeguard your valuables at all times whilst in the Gardens.
  • Should you happen to find an item of lost property, please leave it in the care of the Information Office staff.
  • Every minor child entering the Gardens is to be under proper adult supervision at all times.
  • No loitering in the Gardens car parks is permitted.

Vandalism: The Gardens property is to be respected at all times. Vandalism to any part of the Gardens will not be tolerated.

Water features: Please refrain from entering into any of the water features and please do not toss coins into the ponds.

Wi-Fi: eThekwini Municipality has a free Wi-Fi hotspot situated near the Visitors Complex. To connect, please look for eThekwini_WiFi under connection settings.

Entrance into the Gardens is at your own risk.

For further information on any of the above guidelines, kindly visit the Information Office situated at the Visitors Complex within the Gardens. Further queries can be emailed to the Curator:

Useful contact information

Information Office (08h00 – 16h30): 031 322 4021 or
Venue Hire (08h00 – 16h30): 031 322 4021 or
Security Control Room (a/h emergency): 031 700 9190

Photography & Filming in the Gardens

The Durban Botanic Gardens is a favourite place for photographers, from the amateur to the professional.

To ensure a positive experience for you, while maintaining a pleasant experience for our many visitors, please be aware of the following rules and guidelines when it comes to taking pictures in the Durban Botanic Gardens.

Personal use photography and filming

  • Visitor snapshots, wedding, family portraits, wedding video’s etc intended for personal use are welcomed in the Gardens without having to obtain a permit
  • No charge/fee will be applicable for personal use photographs or videos
  • We ask that you avoid clothing changes if you are doing portrait or family photo shoots
  • Photos must be taken during the Gardens opening times
  • Nature photography for personal use capturing the beauty and diversity of the Gardens is welcomed
  • Students are encouraged to use the Gardens to take photo’s for their portfolio at no cost, however, if there are clothing changes required you will need to obtain a permit from the Information Office. (A letter from the relevant tertiary institution may be required).

Commercial use photography and filming

  • A permit is required if you would like to use the Durban Botanic Gardens for commercial purposes
  • Commercial use includes photography / video where the media is intended for the following use:
    • Display advertising, television commercials, feature films, music videos, retail products, brochures, product literature, annual reports, training videos, award presentations, instructional videos, business websites, non-macro stock photography for sale, model portfolios and other industrial, promotional or advertising projects.
    • Drone photography is treated as commercial photography and requires an permit application and payment.
    • There are two steps for applying for a commercial use photography / filming permit at the Durban Botanic Gardens:
  • Permits will be assessed based on the nature of the shoot, dates, times and environmental impact to site.
  • The cost involved will depend on the size of the crew and the amount of gear involved; access and vehicle requirements; the day and time of shooting (weekends and after hours will likely attract additional rates); and whether staff supervision and logistical support is required.

Photo Guidelines for all Photographers | Videographers

  • Do not walk in any planted, mulched or wooded areas for any reason. Always stay on paths and turf areas
  • Do not injure, disturb, damage, deface or remove any plant, plant part, garden feature, rock, cultural material, bird, animal or structure for any reason
  • Do not climb up, walk on, or otherwise abuse trees, shrubs, plants, fences, walls, boulders or other garden features
  • Do not play any audio equipment such as radios, CD, DVD or MP3 players out loud
  • Do not block entrances, pathways, or Garden areas for use by others in any way
  • No props, furniture, luggage, or clothing changes are permitted
  • No alcoholic beverages may be brought into the Gardens
  • Please respect other visitors’ privacy. If you are asked by another visitor not to take pictures of that person or others accompanying that person, the request must be honoured to protect personal rights of privacy. If a picture has already been taken, it must be deleted upon request.