Auckland Walking

Auckland Walking

Coast to Coast Walk

It sounds like a major expedition to walk from the east coast of New Zealand to the west coast, but actually this walk covers just seventeen kilometres and takes about six hours, allowing some time for sightseeing along the way. In fact, the walk, despite taking one from the east coast to the west coast, is in a north to south direction, cutting through the narrow isthmus upon which Auckland is situated and travelling from Waitemata Harbour in the north to Manukau Harbour in the south. The walkway is a signposted route and a brochure is available free from the Visitor Information Centre in Auckland , or at the airport.

Start at Viaduct Harbour , originally a fishing harbour, but more recently redeveloped to house the yachts for the America ‘s Cup challenge held here in 2003. Walk east along Quay Street beside Waitemata Harbour to the imposing Ferry Building , on the left, built in 1912. Turn right into QEII Square . On the left is the former Chief Post Office, unfortunately no longer used for its intended purpose, but now converted into an impressive entrance to Britomart Station. Next, turn left into Customs Street . This was the shoreline of Auckland in the 1850s, but it is now well inland. Fork right and sharply upwards into Emily Place . This is the headland upon which Auckland was founded in September 1840.

The street curves round and we continue ahead into Princes Street . This was once the most important street in Auckland . Old Government House can be seen and there are several stylish houses formerly occupied by affluent businessmen. On our right now is Albert Park, on the site of a small volcanic crater, the first of several which we shall pass today. As we are on its highest side, we get a good view over the park, and over the city beyond. This is an old park, dating from Victorian times, and one of the best preserved in Auckland . On our left is Auckland University and we turn left into the university grounds, and then right soon after entering. We shall reach Albert Barracks Wall, constructed in 1846, near the clock tower. This was an army barracks at the time, and the wall was a fortification to protect against attacks from the local Maori tribe. Just this small section now remains. Now we reach Alfred Street and turn left into it, soon coming to and crossing Symonds Street . Symonds Street is lined with imported plane trees dating from 1877, the oldest such trees in Auckland.

We are now in Grafton Road and we follow it downhill until we see ahead of us, and cross over into, Auckland Domain, a huge area of grass and parkland. This is the site of a 50,000 years old volcano and it was set aside as a park and given the name which it still retains in the first survey of the city by Governor William Hobson. As you walk up the hill, you will find a conservatory and tea rooms, and then, beyond, the Auckland War Memorial and Museum, commanding a magnificent view over the harbour. The building, constructed in 1929, is open daily from 10:00 until 17:00, for a suggested donation of $5. The Maori name for this hill is Pukekawa – in translation, “Hill of Bitter Memories”, so called because of all those who died nearby in the Musket Wars of the 1820s. Move west and reach another rise known as Pukekaroa, where a peace treaty among Maori tribes was signed in the 1820s. As we leave the Domain at the south-west, we see the cricket pavilion built here in 1899 and still in use.

We now walk along Park Road , with the small Outhwaite Park on our right. The site of the park was originally the home of Auckland ‘s first Supreme Registrar, Thomas Outhwaite, who was responsible for the planting of many of the old trees here. This is the third of today’s volcanic peaks. As we pass Kyber Pass Road , deviate slightly to the left to see the former premises of the Great Northern Brewery. The company was owned by Richard Seccombe and opened in 1861. Water for the brewery was drawn from the well which can be seen in the display room of the shop here, a well which is known, logically enough, as Seccombe’s Well. It is, however, now dry. Proceed up Mountain Road . On the left is Morton Estate Winery in a building dating from the 1930s. This was originally a distillery, producing spirits based on local maize.

We now cross the motorway. In 1966, this route was carved out of the volcanic lava fields from the flows of Mt. Eden . On the right now is Auckland Grammar School . The school was founded in 1868, but moved to these premises in 1916. We turn right when we meet Clive Road and start a gradual climb to Mt. Eden . On the left here at 26, Clive Road is a house built in 1927 for Mr. Trevor Lloyd, who was an artist and cartoonist for the Dominion newspaper. Amongst its unusual features, the house uses the natural basalt as a foundation but combines it with concrete additions. It also has an asymmetric buttress on the right side. Continue walking up Clive Road and enter Mt. Eden Domain. This is quite a climb as we reach first a reservoir and then the 196-metre summit of Mt. Eden . Here we find a nearly perfect volcanic crater, upon which cattle and sheep graze and from which there is another fine view. In fact, from this point one can see the harbours on both sides of the isthmus – our point of origin and our destination. We are now one-third of the way through the walk and this is the highest point on our journey. There are many Maori remains on this summit and notices explain the points of interest. To the east are Eden Gardens , produced from a former quarry in the 1960s.

We descend the southern side of the volcano along an old Maori trail and turn left into Owens Road and then soon right into Cecil Road . Left again into Epsom Avenue and on our right is The Pit, a huge hole excavated during World War II to provide a place for safe storage of documents. Later it was became the headquarters of the Civil Defence. We take the first turning right, which is a path leading into St. Andrews Road , and when Melville Park is reached on our left, we enter it. The park was constructed in the 1930s as a project to create employment in depressed times. We walk right through the park and exit at the east, across Gillies Avenue and into Kimberley Road . At this point we reach the halfway stage of our walk.

At the end of Kimberley Road , after crossing Manukau Road , we enter Cornwall Park and begin a long walk up Puriri Drive , lined with puriri trees. The start of the park is marked by a statue of Sir John Logan Campbell, often referred to as The Father of Auckland. The statue stands in Campbell Crescent and shows Sir John in his mayoral robes. He was mayor of the city in 1901. One of the great pioneers of the city, he came to Auckland in 1840 and lived here for the most of the remainder of his life. Cornwall Park was his gift to the city. He donated it in 1901, when he was 84 years old, but he lived on for another eleven years thereafter to see his gift appreciated. There is much connected with his life and death in this park, as we shall discover in the next hour or so. Follow the drive through the 220-hectare park, noting, on the left, the stone Maori talisman of Rongo, moved here from an original site four kilometres away. Then come to Acacia Cottage, the former home of Sir John Logan Campbell. Here you can read all about him, and visit the cottage which he had constructed for his use in 1841. This is the oldest wooden building in Auckland . Just nearby is Huia Lodge, built in 1903, which is now the Park Visitor Centre. Continue along Olive Grove for some distance to a road junction, from where a path leads up to the summit of One Tree Hill. Here you will find the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell, with an obelisk, 21 metres in height, to commemorate not him, but his great admiration of and respect for the Maori people. It bears a simple epitaph, actually a copy of Sir Christopher Wren’s epitaph in St. Paul ‘s Cathedral in London , “Si monumentum requiris circumspice” – If you seek a memorial, look around you. This volcanic cone, 183 metres in height, offers another wonderful view of both harbours and is a site revealing much Maori history. It is known by the Maoris as Maungakiekie, and was so strongly fortified during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that 4,000 defenders could be contained within its ramparts. The lava flow from this volcano reaches all the way from here to Manukau Harbour and we shall follow it for the remainder of our walk. This is now the two-thirds point in that walk.

Descend the hill and pass the Stardome Observatory, open every evening, as we leave the park by its south-western exit. Turn left into Manukau Road and follow it to a six-way junction known as Royal Oak because of a building on the corner which used to be the Royal Oak Hotel from 1854 until 1909, but is now offices. Here fork slightly right along Symonds Street . Captain William Symonds had the misfortune to drown in Manukau Harbour in 1841. On the right after five minutes walk is the site of Auckland ‘s first zoo. It was closed in 1922, following the escape of a lion. Turn left into Trafalgar Street and then right into Manukau Road once more. We soon come to Jellicoe Park on the left. It was renamed in 1921 to honour the well-known First World War Leader, Earl Jellicoe, who was Governor-General of New Zealand from 1920 until 1924. In the park is a replica Fencible cottage. The Fencibles were military settlers over 45 years old pensioned off from the British army and given free passage, a two-roomed cottage, like the one here, and a small parcel of land, in return for being ready to defend the city, if necessary. They arrived here between 1847 and 1852. Here also is Onehunga Blockhouse, built in 1860 as a defence against Maori attacks.

From the south exit of the small park, we turn right onto Grey Street and then left into Normans Hill Road . A few more minutes through a residential area takes us to Onehunga Bay Reserve and Onehunga Beach , and finally we have reached Manukau Harbour , after a lengthy and interesting walk, which will have taught us a good deal about the history and landscape of Auckland . To return to the city centre, walk along Church Street for a few minutes until the small shopping centre of Onehunga is reached, and on the right is a bus station. Buses running back to the centre of Auckland include numbers 302, 304, 305, 312, 324, 328, 334, 344, 347 and 645. Departures are approximately every twenty minutes and the journey takes about forty minutes and costs $4.


City Walk

This is a short walk around the centre of Auckland covering some three kilometres and looking mainly at the architecture of the city. It can be covered in about an hour, but perhaps ninety minutes would be a more suitable time to allow in order to give a little more attention to the features.

Auckland City Walking

Start in Queen Street between Shortland Street and Vulcan Lane . Here, at no. 104 Queen Street, can be found a building constructed in the 1860s and one of the oldest in the street. It was occupied by Graham and Co., fashionable drapers, but is now Boots the Chemists. Craigs Building at no. 98 was St. Mungo’s Café when constructed in 1882. The same business had occupied a previous building on the same site since 1855. The next building, no. 94, was also built in 1882, designed by the same architect. Blacketts Building , on the corner of Shortland Street at no. 86, was built in 1879 as the South British Insurance Company. The top floor of the building was not added until 1912. On the opposite side of Queen Street is the façade of the Bank of New Zealand Building. The bank was started in 1865 and completed in 1867, and regarded at the time as the finest building in Auckland . Many of the materials came from Australia , as did the architect. In 1882 the building was extended. Then, in the 1980s, following its sale, it was to be demolished. A compromise led to the retention of the façade and the construction of a tower behind.

Now turn up Shortland Street . In early Auckland , this, rather than Queen Street, was the commercial centre of the city. One reason for this is that it was immediately adjacent to the harbour at that time. Another is that a stream flowed along the course of Queen Street and drainage was a problem. Only when that problem was solved by covering the stream did Queen Street start to prosper. On the corner of Shortland Street and High Street is N.Z.I. House. Originally this building too was designed for South British Insurance. It was built in 1927 as a modern nine-storey office building. In 2001 it was converted to part-residential, part-commercial use, with extra floors added. On the opposite side of the corner with High Street is Hotel De Brett. The first hotel here was built in 1841, of wood, and named the Commercial Hotel. It was burnt down in 1858. The new hotel was built of brick, and burnt down in 1926. Hotel De Brett is made of concrete and has survived better. On the corner of O’Connell Street is Jackson and Russell’s Building, constructed in 1918 and originally the home of various legal practices and offices of similar professionals. On the opposite corner are the General Buildings, built for the Yorkshire Insurance Company in 1928. This is another imposing and lofty construction. It was extended in the 1980s.

Turn now up O’Connell Street . In early Auckland , this was a low-class area. It was overcrowded, with narrow roads (as still) and poor drainage. There was a slaughter house just along the street adding to the aroma. The atmosphere changed in the early part of the twentieth century, when buildings such as no. 10 were being constructed. This, the Royal Exchange Assurance Building , dates from 1925. So does the building opposite, now known as Administrator House, but originally the offices of the Alliance Assurance Company. On the corner of Chancery Street are the Chancery Chambers, an ornate building, but one which was originally designed to be more ornate still. It was modified when built in 1924 to 1925 in order to save costs. Prior to that, however, this had been the site of Acacia Cottage, the home of John Logan Campbell. Acacia Cottage still exists, but has been moved to Cornwall Park (see the Coast-to-Coast Walk). It is the oldest remaining wooden building in Auckland , having been constructed in 1841.

Turn right into Chancery Street and come immediately to Freyberg Place on the left. This little square is a popular place for eating lunch on a fine day. It is dedicated to Lord Bernard Freyberg, V.C., of whom there is a prominent statue. During the Second World War, he was Commander of the Expeditionary Force in North Africa and after the war he became Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 until 1952. Beside the square, some stone steps lead up to the next building, which is Metropolis Tower . These steps originally led to the Methodist Church , constructed in 1848 but now gone. Also here originally were the Police Station, Courthouse and Mechanics Institute.

Turn left now, and walk along High Street. Just before Victoria Street is reached, there is a car park on the left on the site of a volcanic eruption which occurred about 60,000 years ago. Albert Park can be seen to the left at Victoria Street , and this was formerly a small volcanic peak. The lava flow ran along what is now Victoria Street and created the level area of Queen Street between Victoria Street and Wellesley Street . Albert Park was established in 1882. Prior to that, the area was a military barracks. On the far corner of High Street and Victoria Street is the Lister Building , constructed in 1924 to 1925 and named after the famous British surgeon and scientist. It was designed for and used by dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries and offices.

Turn right into Victoria Street and walk a short distance to Queen Street . On the left on the corner here is the A.M.P. Building . This was constructed in 1962 and was the first modern American-style commercial tower building in Auckland . It includes South African granite, French marble and Italian travertine in its materials, as well as stainless steel-clad aluminium frames and heat-absorbent glass. On the right, but also on the corner, is the Whitcoulls Building , a construction with a fine interior. This edifice started its life in 1899 as the home of the Direct Supply Company and was three storeys high. In 1910, it became the John Court Department Store, and in 1916 another three floors were added, together with a roof garden, to give it the form which it has today.

Turn right into Queen Street . Today, this is the main street of Auckland . It gradually overtook Shortland Street to acquire this position starting in the 1860s. One of the contributing factors was a major fire in 1858 which allowed replanning of the whole area. Another was the covering of the Waihorotiu Stream (‘ Ligar Canal ‘) which ran the length of Queen Street . Once it had been covered and the street paved, a wide thoroughfare resulted, free from the nuisance of periodical flooding. Then a pier was constructed at the foot of the street, making this the main access route to the harbour. In 1884 horse-drawn trams started to operate along Queen Street , running to Ponsonby. In 1902, electric trams commenced operation, and Queen Street was well established as the heart of the city. Next to Whitcoulls is the Partridge Building , at 202 Queen Street . This was constructed in 1907 and soon became an annex for the John Court Department Store next door. The ground floor was used as part of the store, while the upper floors were used for stock and for staff facilities. The Security Building at no. 198 was constructed in the second decade of the twentieth century and has always been used as retail premises. Next to it is the Lewis Eady Building at no. 192. This was constructed in the 1870s as the Hippodrome Music Theatre. In 1927 the building was extended. At this stage it was renamed the Lewis Eady Building and converted into a recording studio and an auditorium for chamber music. Now it is part of the World De Luxe Store, and the entrance is from the Little High Street Arcade at the rear. In 2000, two extra floors were added, for residential use as flats. The Whitcombe and Tombs Building is at no. 186, on the corner of Durham Street East . It was constructed in 1925. George Whitcombe was a bookseller and George Tombs was a printer. They started their business in Christchurch in 1882 and moved to Auckland in 1916, concentrating on educational publishing. In 1971, the company became part of Whitcoulls and moved along the street to the John Court Building . In 2000, extra floors were added to the Whitcombe and Tombs Building , for residential use as flats. On the other side of Durham Street East is the Premier Building , constructed in 1907 to serve as retail premises on the ground floor and professional offices above. On the opposite side of Queen Street , on the corner of Durham Street West , is Landmark House, constructed in 1927 to 1930 for the Auckland Electric Power Board. It is an impressive ornamented concrete building with an even more impressive entrance featuring brass doors and marble cladding.

Now turn left down Durham Street West , beside Landmark House. Then move right into the narrow Durham Lane . At the end on the left is a bluestone warehouse which is the oldest commercial building in Auckland , dating from 1861. The walls are made of local volcanic stone. For a while it was the factory of the famous Kiwi Boot Polish Company and later it was used for rock concerts. Return to Durham Street West , turning right and continuing to the junction with Albert Street . Here is a wall of a similar volcanic stone to that which we have just seen in the old warehouse. This is the oldest example of road construction in the city centre. Beneath the road ahead are the gents’ public toilets, built here in 1880. Inside the toilets is a plan of alterations made in 1906, at which time the lamp at the top of the steps was added, together with the cast iron railing. The road runs up a ramp to Albert Street , but pedestrians can walk up the steps above the gents’.

Turn right along Albert Street and walk to Wyndham Street . On the far corner is the Shakespeare Hotel, a fine example of a typical nineteenth century country town hotel. However, it is not in a country town and it is only just nineteenth century, having been built in 1898. Few such hotels remain in Auckland now.

Turn right into Wyndham Street and find Blackstone Chambers at no. 14. Since these were originally legal chambers when built in 1882, they were named after a famous British legal author. However, they soon became the home of the Star newspaper, with carrier pigeons housed on the roof to bring the news from various parts of the country. We return to Queen Street and directly ahead across the street are Ellison Chambers at no. 138. These chambers were built in 1913 to 1914 and have a steel frame with reinforced concrete floors, which is the structure employed for skyscrapers, although this building is actually only six storeys high.

Turn left into Queen Street and proceed a short distance to Vulcan Lane on the right. On the corner is Vulcan Building , constructed in 1928. It is actually made of reinforced concrete, although designed to appear like stone. It has a tower and cupola and a generally distinguished appearance. On the other side of the corner is the Prudential Building . It was constructed in 1939 for the musical instruments business of Arthur Eady, and later Charles Begg and Co. It was taken over by the Prudential Insurance Company in 1960.

Turn right into Vulcan Lane . This passageway was doubled in width in 1928. Before that it was quite narrow. Now it is for pedestrians only, a change instituted in 1967. The Vulcan Foundry stood near here, built in 1846, and that is probably the origin of the name. The two hotels here used to attract undesirables, and it was evidently referred to less officially as ‘ Vultures Lane ‘. The Occidental Hotel, on the left, is on the site of a former blacksmith’s shop. The hotel took over in 1870. It included a billiard room, reading room, café and museum. However, the original hotel was demolished and the current one built in 1884. The single-storey section was the old billiard room, but the rest of the hotel is another typically Victorian, somewhat ornate corner pub, of a type now rare in Auckland . Unfortunately, the foundations used in the construction were not sufficiently robust, so the hotel now has a noticeable tilt. Next to the Occidental is the Leon Brook Building , which is an early twentieth century remodelling of a nineteenth century construction. During the First World War, it was offices for trotting and jockey clubs, appropriately positioned between two pubs known for attracting gambling patrons. In 1920, it became owned by Arthur Eady and was associated with musical businesses. From the 1950s until the 1970s, the basement was the Coffee Bean Lounge, popular with younger customers. Adjacent is the Queens Ferry Hotel, named after the Scottish home town of the first owner, John Robertson. The building dates from 1858, when it was a general store. Mr. Robertson converted it to an hotel in 1865, and he added another floor in 1882. Some further alterations occurred in 1902. The hotel has always been popular with journalists. Opposite is Gifford’s Building, constructed in 1929, with an art deco look about it. On a third corner of the crossing is Norfolk House, an office block constructed in 1912, with a rounded corner, on which the entrance lies.

And so we finish near where we began, having seen a little of the architectural styles and history of Auckland . To give some perspective to the city and its buildings, it is worth noting that, in 1841, when John Logan Campbell’s Acacia Cottage was constructed, the population here was 2,000, and Auckland was the capital of New Zealand . In 1861, when the old bluestone warehouse was constructed, the population was 7,000. By 1886, when the new Occidental Hotel had just been constructed, and the Queens Ferry Hotel expanded, the population had risen to 33, 000, but Auckland was no longer the capital, having lost the honour to Wellington.

Date posted: 18th September, 2018

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