New Zealand cemeteries

Cemeteries are fascinating places, providing perspective on your life and the times in which people lived and were buried. Here’s a selection from across New Zealand, starting with probably the oldest. Christ Church, in Russell, is the country’s oldest existing church and possibly the oldest building still used for its original purpose.

Bolton Street Cemetery is the oldest in Wellington, dating back to 1840. It was closed in 1892 and then cut in half in the 1960s by the motorway, requiring more than 3,700 bodies to be moved.

Makara Cemetery is now the principal cemetery for Wellington. It had it’s first burial in 1965 and is now about a third full. It’s incredibly divided up with sections including Assyrian, Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Tung Jung, Poon Fah, Greek, Seyip, Orthodox Jewish and Progressive Jewish, plus larger public areas.


Older cemeteries can be found in Central Otago, along the rail trail, including Clyde established in 1865 and Blacks Cemetery in Omakau in use since 1870s.

Oamaru‘s Old Cemetery may not be old by European standards but dating from about 1860 is pretty old for New Zealand.

Whangapoua beach on Great Barrier Island is home to some of the dead from the S.S. Wairarapa. One of the worst shipwrecks in New Zealand’s maritime history occurred on 29 October 1894, when about 140 people drowned when the ship hit rocks near Miners Head. Most of the dead were brought back to Auckland, but some remain buried on the island in two small cemeteries.

Another island near Auckland is Waiheke, home to the atmospheric Pioneer Cemetery, surrounded by bush.

Back on the mainland Hillsborough Cemetery in Auckland has been in use since 1916, and is one of the most scenically located with sweeping views across the Manukau Harbour.

Symonds St Cemetery is one of the oldest in Auckland, opened in 1842 and closed 1886. Like Bolton Street Cemetery in the 1960s they thought it’d be a good idea to put a motorway through the middle of it, moving over 4,100 bodies.

Finally, one of the newest cemeteries in Auckland is Manukau Memorial Gardens, set over a mostly tranquil 42 hectares, though it is rather close to Auckland International Airport.

Author: jontycrane

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