Naval Dockyards and Museum
Devonport is home to the Royal New Zealand Navy.
The Navy has a Museum which houses a collection of memorabilia relating to New Zealand's naval heritage. Amongst some of the displays are medals, uniforms as well as a large collection of photographs, depicting the Navy through the years. Open: Daily 10.00 am - 4.30 pm. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Cheltenham Beach is a long sandy beach in the beautiful Auckland suburb on Devonport, which can be reached from downtown Auckland either by ferry or by road in about 20 minutes.
Cheltenham Beach is backed by greenery and some impressive seaside mansions with gardens that stretch right down to the sand.
Arguably the best view of the beach is to be had from North Head, a grassy volcanic peak at the southern end of the beach.
The beach is a mixture of sand and small sea shells and there was a lot of seaweed washed up on the beach at the time of my visit. The sea is fairly clear and is shallow and calm.
My guidebook suggested that the best time for swimming here is between late December and mid March. I visited in late March 2006 and, despite it being a nice sunny day, I passed only a handful of people on the beach - mainly people taking a stroll or walking their dogs, although I did see a few hardy souls sunbathing!
The beach is natural and undeveloped - there are no tourist facilities or food kiosks lining the beach and, at least at the time of my visit, no watersports.
There are excellent views from the beach across to the volcanic island of Rangitoto.
Admire the buildings
Devonport has plenty of shops to wander and cafes to visit, and some nice buildings.
We enjoyed this secondhand bookshop in the main street where a part of one interior wall was grafitiied with quotes, some famous, some not.
- Arts and Culture
Berthed down at Devonport Wharf is Captain Cooks replica ship the ‘Bark Endeavour’. It is open daily for tours.
The HM Bark Endeavour was the first ship to establish longitude accurately at sea by means of newly published nautical tables. The ship was also the first to complete a long voyage without anyone dying of scurvy.
- Historical Travel
One of the two volcanic peaks in Devonport with commanding views of Auckland city, North Head and Rangitoto and the gulf.
The hill sits as a back rest to the shopping centre which gently slopes down to the waterfront. A walk to the top will take about 10-20 mins, but it is possible to drive to the top.
The Devonport Library has a lot of photographs and material related to the history of Devonport. They have been in this building on Windsor Reserve since 1954 and are just near the Visitor information centre.
The reserve down by the Ferry Terminal is not only enjoyable at any time of year but it is also a great place for many events held in Devonport. The tourist information centre is also on the reserve as well as a children's playground and a petanque area
The War Memorial
This war memorial is on the reserve in Devonport. The bronze statue on the top is called the ‘untidy soldier’ and the sculptor himself was a returned soldier (Frank Lynch) who served at Gallipoli and France. This was his vision of a Kiwi ‘digger’ who was about to evacuate Gallipoli and his gaunt face looking back to the memory of his dead mates as he dips his hat. His clothes are deliberately not pressed and clean looking as it represents more those that passed the test of battle rather than passed the ‘spit and polish’ test.
Jacksons Muzeum is located in the old Devonport Post office. This museum has collectables, automobilia, and Victoriana. There is something like 15,000 unusual exhibits. Don't ask me what the Telephone box is doing on the roof.
Open: Wednesdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. 10 am - 5.30 pm.
Walking the Tunnels
There is a self-guided walk you can take. The walk begins at the carpark and will take you through the tunnels and to the searchlights and gun as well as other interests of the military defences. Take care with the walking though as there are holes and uneven surfaces in the tunnels.
There are many stories apparently about the hidden tunnels at North Head which contain anything from two original boeing planes to decaying ammunition. So far all investigation have proven to be untrue.
North Head was well defended with three disappearing guns in 1900. The barrels weighed over 13 tons and were designed to retract underground when it was fired. The gun would then be reloaded and returned to the surface for the next firing. There is still one of these guns, one of the few remaining, at South Battery.
Over the next 25 years, some 40 prisoners were used to rebuild the fortifications at North Head and lived in a prison which was created from an army barracks on the summit. The building, constructed in 1885, are the oldest buildings on North Head. The prisoners dug the tunnels, and laid the bricks and many of these tunnels and underground spaces (which were the engine rooms and magazines) are still visible today.
North Head History
North Head became the site of the first pilot station in 1840, to guide ships into the harbour. It was also used for defence purposes when it was feared that the Russians were ‘on the way’. It was a growing fear from the 1870’s onwards, that New Zealand would be attacked and during 1885 when the fear grew, three large gun batteries were built to defend the Rangitoto Channel and harbour.
The Esplanade Hotel
If arriving by Ferry, the first sight you will see as you leave the Ferry Buildings is the Esplanade Hotel which is directly opposite. This grand old lady has been around for some 100 years and has been the focal point of Devonport and its waterfront. Over its lifetime, the hotel has undergone many different styles and even though the hotel has undergone further refurbishment, it still exudes the same warmth and charm of its past days. All the original features have been enhanced giving the hotel an ambience of elegance. You do not need to stay at this luxury class hotel, just simply have a meal or even a drink and soak up the atmosphere.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel