More about Devonport
Auckland's historic maritime village
Devonport is Auckland's historic maritime village that looks back across Auckland Harbour to the city. Devonport Village has wonderful range of unique specialty shops, cafes and restaurants and is the perfect destination for either a short day trip or select from the excellent range of boutique accommodation for a longer stay. Enjoy Devonport's relaxed atmosphere, unique heritage, spectacular views, many beaches and colonial architecture.
Devonport, at the very southern point of North Shore City, was one of the earliest settled areas of Auckland. The three small volcanic mountains here (Takapuna, Takarunga and Takaroro) were ideal for Maori pa (fortified settlements) as they had quality soil to grow kumeras (sweet potatoes) and its large tidal beaches to collect seafood. The mountains are believed to have been occupied by Maori from about 1350AD. European settlement began in earnest in the mid 1800s, with farming and shipbuilding the main industries.
In 1840 a flagstaff was raised on our highest hill (Mt Victoria or Takarunga, 81 metres) and the town became known as Flagstaff.
A deep water anchorage suitable for naval vessels was identified nearby, and the area became the base for our navy. Hence the name Devonport, after the English naval town. The Calliope Dock, when it opened in 1888, was the largest drydock in the Southern Hemisphere. The Royal New Zealand Navy still has its national base here. The Navy also had a presence on North Head or Takapuna (65 metres), which is now administered by the Department of Conservation, and there are still military tunnels and bunkers there to be explored. A newly opened park above Narrow Neck Beach is Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve which has in the past housed both Navy and Army.
North Head Historic Reserve
North Head (Takapuna) Historic Reserve in Devonport is the only mainland reserve included in the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park. It is open 6am–10pm seven days, with the vehicle gates open 6am–6pm. North Head was first occupied by Maori and later by Europeans who built many of the fortifications in the late 1800s. We recommend taking one of our mountain bikes to explore North Head.
There are gravel tracks for you to cycle along or alternatively you can cycle on the grass verges. Tunnels and disappearing guns (some of the few remaining in the world) tempt the adventurous to explore while spectacular 360 degree views are to be had of the harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. Lock your bike up and go on an exploration of the warren of tunnels that are throughout North Head.
Video presentations are regularly shown and are recommended viewing. We cover North Head in our tours but you may want to go their independently as we find many visitors want to stay longer once there. North Head is maintained by the Department of Conservation.
Cheltenham Beach is only 1.5kms away from the ferry terminal. Cycle along King Edward Parade towards North Head and Cheltenham beach will be close by and can be seen from the top of North Head.
Along King Edward Parade you will pass the Devonport Yacht Club, The Masonic Tavern and the cricket green. A lovely restaurant is located at the beach. At the northern end of the beach, at Vauxhall Rd there are shops, takeaway and cafes located nearby.
Mt Victoria (Takarunga) in Devonport is one of the seven volcanoes that Auckland was founded on. It affords spectacular views of the city and harbour and an interpretative map of the Hauraki Gulf is on the summit. The hill was occupied by the Kawerau and terraces and pits are still visible on the northern and eastern slopes.
The grave of noted Maori chief Eru Patuone, The Peacemaker, is on the lower slope. One of the bunkers built in 1885 now houses the Devonport Folk Music Club. Cycle access is from Kerr Street in Devonport. Mt Victoria closes at 6.30pm Thursday to Saturday.
In the 1880’s much farm land was subdivided and large wooden villas were built in a style which has now become part of Devonport's charm. The villas have been lovingly restored and repainted, and beautiful gardens developed around them to enhance their glory. Most of the houses are built of solid timber from the kauri tree, Agathis australis, a native tree known for its straight growth habit and lack of knots.
Devonport features many examples of period architecture. The beautifully restored homes, include styles such as Victorian, Colonial, Georgian, Bungalows and huge villas and are a feature of the area.
Victoria Road is the main road in Devonport Village. Devonport Village has a wonderful range of unique specialty shops, cafes and restaurants. Relax and unwind after a cycle ride at one of the local watering holes or enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many cafes on the street.
The main street also features the Esplanade Hotel, first built in 1864 as the "Flagstaff Hotel" then rebuilt and renamed in 1902.
Mt Cambria (Takaroro), accessible from Vauxhall Road and Church Street, Devonport, was originally a volcanic cone which was quarried away to provide roading, garden walls, and ships ballast. The Mt Cambria restoration was recognised with a national award for park design and construction in 1992.
The area has gardens, walkways, and is home to the Devonport Museum. A feature is the hand-crafted steps up and over the precipitous bluffs of the old quarry. Mt Cambria Walk is a tribute to people who have helped shape Devonport.
In 1978 half the old Presbyterian Church was moved to Mt Cambria Reserve and became the Devonport Museum. The Museum houses records and photographs of early Devonport. It offers a comprehensive display of items that have been in daily, domestic and social use over the past century. This is located on 31A Vauxhall Road and is open Saturday and Sunday, 2.00pm to 4.00pm.
The Navy museum houses a collection of memorabilia relating to New Zealand's naval heritage. It is a celebration of the Navy in New Zealand, although the main emphasis is on the Royal New Zealand Navy. Amongst the treasures on display are medals, uniforms as well as a large collection of photographs, depicting the Navy through the years. Opening daily between 10.00 am and 4.30 pm. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday.
Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve
Fort Takapuna, built between 1886 and 1889, was part of a chain of new defences around Auckland harbour. Other forts were built at North Head, Bastion Point, Point Resolution (above the Parnell Baths), and later in 1899 on Mount Victoria. This fort housed two 6 inch disappearing guns which controlled the approaches to the Rangitoto Channel. These guns were mounted in the two circular gun pits in the underground part of the fort. Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve, Vauxhall Rd, Takapuna.
Close to Devonport, Narrow Neck Beach is a large beach with easy access. It is a popular, safe swimming beach with a children's playground and a shop on the reserve. Picnic and BBQ facilities are provided. A sailing club is based here so enjoy the yacht racing off the beach. Fort Takapuna is accessible from this beach.
Book a bike for the day and explore the next town along, Takapuna. With a wide variety of shops and cafes it's a great place to cycle to. Order a take-away coffee and go for a walk on the beach. Or stay a while and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grassy bank at the northern end of the beach with lunch tables and toilet facilities. Great for soaking up the local atmosphere. Follow the dedicated cycle lane from Devonport to Takapuna.