Hawaii residents are invited to have an “orchid experience” at a first-in-the-world Orchid Maze, the highlight of a special Grand Opening / Kamaaina Weekend at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens set for Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.
The unique, 8,000-square-foot orchid maze allows visitors to follow a variety of paths through more than five hundred blooming, colorful and fragrant orchids on a self-guided tour featuring educational exhibits, tips, growing instructions and interactive video kiosks.
There is a $3 admission charge to the maze, which includes an orchid planting with a plant that can be taken home plus a sampling of the Gardens original poha ice cream. The maze is enclosed and completely covered so it is open irrespective of the weather.
The orchid maze is the creation of company vice-president Takeshi Akatsuka, who took over this year as general manager of the Gardens from his father and founder Moriyasu Akatsuka. The special kamaaina weekend event marks 42 years in business for the Gardens, which now has the largest collection of orchids and tropical plants, including bromeliads and anthuriums, in Hawaii.
Among the many varieties of orchids are the more well-known Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Odontoglossum, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Miltonia and Vanda species. There are as many as 2,000 other varieties, which are the result of 20 years of continuous hybridization by Moriyasu Akatsuka, who originally learned his skills while working in his homeland of Japan.
One of the orchids displayed is a rare Paphiopedilum variety, which Moriyasu brought from its natural habitat in Thailand and is valued at $20,000. Called the “Volcano Queen”, this rare specimen can be seen only during the months April to July annually.
In addition to the orchid maze, the Gardens offers a one-hour Greenhouse Tour every Wednesday and Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for individuals, large groups and private tours. The Gardens also has a special “photo-op” area, a mini Zen garden, a bamboo orchid wall, and a large gift shop. All Akatsuka’s orchids are qualified for U.S. Mainland travel as well as shipping to all 50 United States and territories.
In addition to its special Grand Opening / Kamaaina weekend, the Gardens will also hold a special orchid “Sidewalk Sale” on Saturday, July 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Buyers may purchase a pre-priced box and fill the box with as many plants as it can hold.
Akatsuka Orchid Gardens is located on the Big Island of Hawaii on Hwy. 11 in Volcano between mile markers 22 and 23, and open daily, with the exception of holidays, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“I think children and adults of all ages will find the orchid maze to be a really fun and unusual experience for all the senses,” said Takeshi Akatsuka.