Auckland is full of iconic landmarks - those places, objects or art that just reminds you of the city or for residents, of home. Localist checks out some of our most famous landmarks, and unearths the history and interesting gems about them!
A trip to the historic seaside village of Devonport isn’t complete without a tour of the tunnels at North Head, just 15 minute’s walk from the ferry terminal.
Surprisingly, although it is best known as a strategic military site, North Head’s first incarnation was actually as a Māori food garden - atypical in that the Māori usually chose to place pā fortifications on volcanic cones.
By the late 1800s, North Head was taking on its role as an important strategic military point. Rumours of a Russian fleet in the North Pacific were growing. North Head was gradually transformed into a fort with trained soldiers, fitted out with a variety of guns on both the North and South flanks. The fort was complete by the 1890s, with underground storerooms, kitchens and barracks linked by tunnels.
The guns were dismantled at the turn of the century after the Russian threat failed to eventuate. Most were sold as scrap metal, though some rumours would have it that there are several still buried in the side of the hill (along with fighter planes in secret bunkers).
The defences were once again scaled up after Japan entered the Second World War in 1941.
The site is now managed by the Department of Conservation and is open daily.
What to do: Take the one hour North Head Historic Walk or give grass surfing a go - all you need is a flattened cardboard box or a toboggan.
How to get there: From Devonport ferry terminal, walk along King Edward Parade up the waterfront. Follow the signs to North Head.
What to expect: Sweeping views over the Hauraki Gulf, families wandering around exploring the tunnels, and a petrel or two catching fish in the bay (if you’re lucky enough to spot one).
Tips: Pack a bottle of water and possibly a picnic lunch - there are several great spots to sit on the lawns and look out over the gulf. Don’t forget your camera, and do bring a torch!