Symonds Street Cemetery is somewhere that almost everyone in Auckland will have been past or over, but few will have walked through. It’s encircled by Symonds St, K Road, the motorway, and Upper Queen St, and crossed by Grafton Bridge. For those who venture into it’s 5.8 hectares though it’s a fascinating place, filled with history and atmosphere.
The cemetery is the resting place for many famous early New Zealanders including William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Originally opened in 1842, it closed for burials in 1886, and has been maintained by the Council since 1909, though it has a pretty run down air about it, which is a sad state of affairs for such an historic place.
In 1910 Grafton Bridge was built over part of the cemetery, with tombstones found right by the base of the bridge, or even built over and headstones relocated.
In the 1960s (as in Wellington) a motorway was built through the middle of the cemetery, with more than 4,100 bodies moved and re-interred.
In 2012 twenty headstones in Jewish cemetery were defaced with antisemitic graffiti, which unfortunately due to the porous stone is almost impossible to remove.
So not a great history, but it is a wonderful place to explore, though best not at night.