One of the highlights of early Spring in Auckland is the Auckland Heritage Festival, celebrating the somewhat surprising amount of heritage accumulated over 175 years. There are over 200 events, most of which are free. The 2015 programme has just been announced, running 26th September to 11th October. Here are a few recommendations based on my experience last year.
Heroism, Tragedy and Heritage Roses – Symonds Street Cemetery Tour
So many people walk, drive, bus past this without noticing the cemetery. Half the size it once was thanks to the motorway being built through it (same happened in Wellington with Bolton Street Cemetery), this home to a whose who of early Auckland. Edward Bennett is a great guide to the history of the place.
Ponsonby Road and K Road Tours
Edward Bennett again, but he is basically a professional historian and tour guide, and hugely knowledgeable about some of the oldest and most interesting parts of Auckland. These walks will make you look at these areas with fresh eyes.
Engineering Heritage Walks
Generally guided by engineers from Beca, they run two different walks covering highlights of the city, including Britomart, Ports of Auckland, and various University of Auckland buildings.
Rangitoto Bach Tour and Tea
Great half day on Rangitoto learning about the historic baches built in the early 20th century. Amazing what people will do, including building a tidal swimming pool, and flattening a large area of volcanic rock to create a tennis court. Rangitoto is home to the dying breed of proper kiwi baches, rather than Omaha beach mansions. The tours give you the only chance to look inside some of these very simple but beautiful houses, and finishes with scones…
Civic Theatre Tour
Highlight of the festival, and one that understandably gets booked up quickly. It’s an incredible experience to explore this vast building and go behind the scenes, including above the star filled ceiling, and down below to the Winter Gardens.