North Head is one of two volcanic cones in Devonport (the other is Mt Victoria) and because of its position at the entrance to Auckland’s Waitemata harbour and its sweeping views across the Hauraki Gulf to the north and east it was an important lookout and defensive position. Nowadays, as most Aucklanders know, it’s the position to watch the activity in the inner harbour – New Years Eve fireworks, important boat races (think America’s Cup, Volvo Round the World) or to slow down with a picnic. It’s a photogenic spot too, popular with tourists and locals, wedding parties and film crews.
The first gun emplacements and tunnels were built to protect Auckland from a feared Russian invasion in 1885 which (happily) came to nothing. More guns, tunnels and buildings were added in World Wars 1 and 2 and today it is possible to explore the tunnels, gun emplacements and fortifications. There is a self-guided walk (pick up a brochure at the DOC office) which is about 2 hours long. Take a torch. Kids will love it.
New signs put in place in November 2012 explain the history of North Head and show the walking tracks and things that you shouldn’t miss such as the disappearing gun – only one of a few left in the world, and two theatres showing films on demand about the history of North Head and the restoration of nearby islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
Things to know before you go:
- North Head is open from 6 am – 10pm 7 days a week (vehicles 6 am – 6pm).
- Entry is from the end of Takarunga Road at the end of King Edward Parade or Alternatively, you can climb to North Head from the southern end of Cheltenham Beach up a flight of steps. This is a more exciting route; the path is closer to the water but it’s well maintained and suitable for all ages.
- There are public toilets on North Head but there are no shops so bring everything you need.
Categories: New Zealand