New Zealand’s history may not be the most obvious or popular subject choice amongst local high school students, but for anyone who enjoys learning about colonial and military history, the story of Howick is a great starting point. Considered “Auckland’s most historically conscious place,” Howick offers you these five historical experiences that you can delve into, to learn about the eastern side of Auckland.
1. Journey into the past at the Howick Historical Village
Curious about how people lived in New Zealand during the Victorian era? Then head over to the Howick Historical Village for a live, historical experience. The village was established for retired soldiers from the Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps, along with their families. Now operating as a living museum, targeted at local students, the Howick Historical village is nevertheless suitable for all ages. When you enter the museum, you will discover that its staff members are all dressed in costumes of the quintessential Victorian period. Have a chat with them and you will learn about the Fencible history, in-depth, such as why they decided to live at Howick and what was their typical day during the Victorian era.
If you fancy their outfits, you also have the opportunity to dress up like them. After being fitted into your selected costumes, remember to make memories with your friends and take photos at the ‘Photo Memento.’ There are a diverse range of activities to undertake here, from a Victorian Project Runway, to butter-making or code-cracking of soldiers’ messages. Pre-register either prior to your visit or when you arrive. The entrance fees vary for individual visits depending on your age category and if you are in a larger group, you are advised to book prior to your visit.
Howick Historical Village
Address: Lloyd Elsmore Park, Bells Rd, Pakuranga, Howick 2145
Price: Adult is 16 NZD (11.30 USD), Child is 8 NZD (6 USD), Student and Senior are 12 NZD (8.50 USD) each, Group of 10 Adults or more is 11 NZD (8 USD) each person, Family of 2 adults and 2 children are 40 NZD (28.20 USD) altogether
Opening Hours: 10am - 4pm. Closed on public holidays.
Contact: +64 95769506
Website: Howick Historical Village
2. Hike up to the memorial monument at Stockade Hill
During the New Zealand Land Wars of 1860-1864, Stockade Hill was a stronghold to protect Howick and the European settlers from the Maori tribes. It continues to hold historical significance for those who have lost their lives on both sides, with some locals still paying tribute to their ancestors who were fallen soldiers. Although there is an ongoing petition against the current house and building developments around the hill’s area, there is still an opportunity to visit the hill to marvel at the sight of its monument, as well as the views of Auckland and Rangitoto Island from its peak.
Address: Stockade Hill, Howick, Auckland 2014,
Opening Hours: 24/7
3. Visit Howick's oldest building, All Saints Church
On the list of New Zealand Historic Places Trust, under Category I, All Saints Church is the first parish establishment at Howick and the oldest building in Manukau, the eastern region of Auckland. When you walk towards the church, you will see its old, wooden gate and roof, known as its lychgate by the entrance. Its significance lies as a memorial to the fallen, Fencible soldiers who battled during New Zealand’s Land Wars. The almost, angelic-like church is situated on the corner of Selwyn Road and Cook Street.
All Saints Church
Address: 17 Selwyn Rd, Howick, Auckland 2014, New Zealand
Contact: +64 95346864
Website: All Saints Church
4. Spend half a day at Howick’s main suburb, Bucklands Beach
Bucklands Beach is rich with New Zealand’s military and agricultural history. Although it was named after a very wealthy businessman who inherited the area for farming and a brickworks factory, the history back much further. It was first a settlement for a particular Maori tribe until the Musket Wars of 1807 to 1842, which signified internal conflicts with other tribes, either to seek revenge from their previous battles or gain territories. When the Europeans emigrated and bought parts of the beach, the population of Maori gradually decreased to none. Later on, the Fencible Corps took over and developed the land to encourage more business establishments. The area also holds military significance as one of New Zealand’s strategic war zones during the First World War and later, against the Japanese occupation, in WWII.
Bucklands Beach almost acts as a town of its own. It is divided into four smaller beaches and nearby is volcanic Browns Island, the Musick Point peninsula, which features a cliff with scenic and stunning views of Howick, Tamaki estuary, Howick Golf Club and well-equipped shopping facilities. Other than being a heritage site, Bucklands Beach is also a well-developed area that offers diverse leisure activities.
5. Have tea at the Tearooms of Shamrock Cottage
After a long walk around Howick, visiting the heritage sites mentioned above, you are bound to need to sit, relax and have a cuppa, right? Howick is renowned for its lively and vibrant café-atmosphere. But if you love history, head over to the Tearooms at Shamrock Cottage for a delicious, traditional tea! This café opened inside an iconic, historic building, erected in 1847. Like All Saints Church, Shamrock Cottage is also a member of New Zealand Historic Places Trust, under Category II, and it is the second oldest building in the Manukau region.
From operating as a canteen for the Fencible Corps, to a hotel and later a pub, Shamrock Cottage has had a versatile and long history accommodating Howick’s residents. Open since 2009, the Tearooms have a warm, welcoming ambiance as you walk inside. The staff are lovely and proud to serve their freshly-baked pastries, which are just exquisite and scrumptious. You will no doubt be spoilt for choice once you scrutinize their menu and enjoy this quaint cafe!
Tearooms at Shamrock Cottage
Address: 73 Selwyn Rd, Cockle Bay, Howick 2014, New Zealand
Opening Hours: 8.30am - 4.30pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact: +64 95331370
Website: Tearooms at Shamrock Cottage
Why visit historic Howick
There are alternative ways to learn history other than reading textbooks. Just ask Howick’s residents about how this town underwent the resilient transformation from being a strategic, military zone in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to a bustling society today. Howick is underrated in comparison to other areas within the Auckland region. But delve deeper into this town’s history and you will begin to appreciate how it has greatly shaped the town and its people.
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