The town of Pukekohe in New Zealand has been part of the landscape of its capital city of Auckland on the northern island of the country since the mid 1800s, when settlers arrived from Europe in its hills. From that point, Pukekohe (which means “hill of the kohekohe” in Maori) has grown to be a thriving suburb of Auckland but has also become a great spot for locals and tourists to further explore the entire county surrounding it. Here’s some of the best things to do while visiting the verdant town of Pukekohe.
1. Pukekohe Park
When it comes to sports, one of the premier destinations happens to be Pukekohe Park. The park was established in 1963 as a replacement for another racing venue, and grew to be the host circuit for the New Zealand Grand Prix until the year 2000 as well as a venue for the Australian Supercar racing series. Pukekohe Park is also home to thoroughbred racing and cycling tournaments. Those visiting the racetrack will get a chance to check out the stables on site, and there’s even open testing days when visitors can bring their own cars and motorcycles to test them out on the racetrack.
Address: 222-250 Manukau Rd, Pukekohe, Auckland
Website: Pukekohe Park
2. Pukekohe Pioneer Cottage
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
If you’re looking to gain some more insight into New Zealand’s history, a good place to begin is at the Pukekohe Pioneer Cottage. First built in 1859 by a settler named John Martyn over by the Great South Road, the Franklin Historical Society took it over in 1965 and helped to preserve it. It now sits on the Roulston Park Stadium Drive, and is open about twice a month to the public. Once inside, visitors will get a feel for how life was in that period, with many of the original artifacts still in place with the four rooms of the cottage on display in addition to the well-kept fireplace that is the centerpiece of the home.
Pukekohe Pioneer Cottage
Address: Roulston Park 9 Stadium Dr, Pukekohe 2120, New Zealand
Website: Pukekohe Pioneer Cottage
3. Glenbrook Vintage Railway
Head south along Pukekohe Road into the Franklin area and you will have the chance to be whisked into the past thanks to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. The railway was created as a means to both preserve and honor the effects that railroads had in developing New Zealand on a whole and to allow visitors to recapture that enjoyment of traveling in that fashion. The railway experience is at the Glenbrook station, where the vintage locomotives set out on trips. Guests can book parlor cars for a true immersive experience, and for those who have families, they even have a “Day Out With Thomas”, which includes rides on trains just like the famed children’s character and his friends along with other activities at the station.
Glenbrook Vintage Railway
Address: 153 Glenbrook Station Rd, Mauku 2681, New Zealand
Website: Glenbrook Vintage Railway
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4. Te Maketu Waterfall
Outside of Ramarana at the south end of the Auckland region, below Pukekohe, lies the natural wonder of the Te Maketu Waterfall. The waterfall is actually situated in the Maketu Pa Historic Reserve, an expanse that is home to a series of fortified Maori village sites that have been maintained by the government and conservation groups. It’s a main reason why visitors to the waterfall are encouraged to hike so as not to disturb the urupa or burial grounds throughout the Reserve. The waterfall is well regarded as a choice spot for swimmers in the summer months.
Te Maketu Waterfall
Address: Pratts Rd, Ramarama, Auckland
Website: Te Maketu Waterfall
5. Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
Just off the Waikato Expressway leading out of Auckland and Pukekohe halfway to Hamilton, lies the Hampton Downs Motorsport Park. Opening in 2009, Hampton Downs has positioned itself as one of the world’s more technologically advanced racetracks with two circuits that can be combined into one for various racing events and a numerous amount of functions that are automated around the circuits.
Toyota has made the park a stop on its racing series, promoting drivers from all around New Zealand. Those who visit Hampton Downs can partake in a number of driving experiences, from go kart racing to rides in Lexus cars on the national section of the racetrack. There’s even a V8 muscle car thrill ride for those looking to open it up a little on the course.
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
Address: State Highway One, RD 2, Ta Kauwhata, Waikato 3782, New Zealand
Website: Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
6. Visit The Franklin Markets
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Every Saturday for the past sixteen years, Pukekohe has seen a bevy of activity due to its outdoor market. It’s actually helped towards the growth of other outdoor markets in the region. Those visiting the Pukekohe market will be able to engage with a decent variety of vendors who offer different foods and handcrafted goods in addition to local farmers who make fresh produce available. Another attractive feature lies in other activities people can get into there, such as pony rides for kids and a thriving area where one can get some great seafood.
Visit The Franklin Markets
Address: Massey Avenue, Pukekohe, NZ
Website: Visit The Franklin Markets
7. Vivian Falls at Harker Reserve
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
This natural bush preserve is a popular hiking destination for many in Pukekohe and others throughout Franklin County. It was created due to a protection mandate issued by Queen Elizabeth II after the Harker family made the land available back in 1984. Visitors making their way here can take advantage of horseback riding on the main trail as well as walking, which leads them to the Vivian Falls. There, they can relax and enjoy the splendor of the falls.
Vivian Falls at Harker Reserve
Address: 19 Kirby St, Glendene, Auckland 0602, New Zealand
Website: Vivian Falls at Harker Reserve
A postscript from Pukekohe
The pleasant beauty of New Zealand lies in a magnetic mixture of calm and adventure. This is certainly true for those who happen to take a visit to Pukekohe. Much like the mahogany that the town is named after, being in Pukekohe means that you will be engaging in a number of activities that are rich and imbued with the spirit of a nation that honors its past while maintaining a cheerfulness in the present. Whether you seek thrills from seeing natural wonders or from being in the same path as those who came beforehand, Pukekohe offers a great deal to take in.
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