Birkenhead Point Gateway Walk

From Birkenhead Wharf to Glade Place—historic homes and awesome harbour views.

Birkenhead Point Gateway Walk

Auckland 0627, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council

Tour Information

Birkenhead’s first gateway was the Waitematā Harbour—everything happened by the old sea wall before the first wharf was built. Meetings, deliveries, sales, reunions, and gossip. Flat-bottomed boats transported animals, fruit crops, and goods for Auckland. Children fished from dinghies. Horse-drawn vehicles struggled up and down the hill carrying sacks, bales, and people. The hillside was much steeper before a huge landslip in 1893, out of which was formed the seaward side of Hinemoa Park.

The history of the area is much older, though. Māori first fished the coastline in this area, with seasonal camps for eeling and fishing about 700 years ago. These mainly were seasonal or periodic settlements, but more extensive pā fortifications at Te Mata-rae-o-Mana (Kauri Point) to the west and Te Ōnewa to the east suggest a sustained presence. Māori remained in the area until the Musket Wars of the 1820s and maintained an occasional presence through the 1830s.

Next came the European kauri forest-cutters and gum-diggers. Swiftly taking their profits, they moved on, abandoning the land. From the 1850s, speculative land purchases frequently changed hands, with large properties gradually subdivided—the first homes had the best views, while smaller houses lined the main track, now Hinemoa Street. Hardy settlers established orchards, strawberry gardens and small sheep and cattle farms. Soon waterside businesses and shops served Birkenhead Point's growing population, with regular ferry services from 1882.

Birkenhead became a thriving maritime suburb. Named in 1863 by real estate agent and broker Samuel Cochrane after his English hometown near Liverpool, Birkenhead expanded quickly after 1884 when the New Zealand Sugar Company started at Chelsea. Sugar workers and their families settled north and east of the refinery, driving population growth and demand for ferry and bus services connecting commerce and families with Auckland.

Today, Birkenhead Point's different building designs reflect changing tastes and budgets.

Terrain: Concrete sidewalks along a steep grade, with stairs and a steeper downhill section along a bush path.

Starting Point: Birkenhead Wharf

Parking: Free parking is available at Birkenhead Wharf and along Hinemoa Street.

Disclaimer: This walk is along public roads and includes historical facts about the buildings and the area. Most of the sites are private businesses or homes. Please respect the environment and do not trespass on private property. Neither the Birkenhead Heritage Society, Auckland Council, nor private property owners accept responsibility for any loss, damage, or injury to you or your property arising from use of this tour.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Marcia Roberts, Brian Potter, and Jane Leggett for creating this tour on behalf of the Birkenhead Heritage Society. Additional thanks to Gillian Taylor and the Birkenhead Residents’ Association for managing the project, and the Kaipātiki Local Board and Auckland Council Heritage Unit for supporting the project and providing guidance and funding. Birkenhead Point Gateway Walk adapted for Walk Auckland and PocketSights by Derek Whaley on behalf of Auckland Council.

Copyright 2023 Birkenhead Heritage Society and Auckland Council. The Birkenhead Heritage Society and Auckland Council holds all copyrights associated with this tour. You may not copy or reproduce the content of this tour without permission from both organisations. The Birkenhead Heritage Society has taken every care to ensure that the information contained in this tour is accurate, but accepts no responsibility arising from, or in connection with, your use of this tour and the information contained in it.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Constructed in 1880, the Wharf facilitated ferry services and, from 1910, bus connections. Hinemoa Park, with its bush backdrop, a bandstand and changing sheds, has been a leisure destination since 1928. Looking toward the east is a vista o... Read more
Entrepreneur settlers William and Maria Thompson built this double-fronted villa, Gildersdale (1898), for their retirement. The jam factory and shop at their earlier home (site of no. 7) used local sugar to can produce from their strawberry... Read more
This Arts and Crafts-style house, ca 1918, was home to Laura Maria Edwards, a member of a creative group of entertainers and filmmakers, including the cinema-chain owner Henry Hayward, filmmaker Rudall Hayward and dancer Bettina Edwards. T... Read more
Alexander Keyes, the fourth Mayor of Birkenhead Borough Council (1906-1911), built this impressive family house. A good advertisement for the successful local building business operated with his brother William, the two-storey weather-board... Read more
World famous-meteorologist Clement Wragge's rambling estate included his now much-altered 1911 home, a museum, and gardens. His legacy includes weather observatories in Scotland and four Australian states, giving names to cyclones and the t... Read more
As you walk up Hinemoa Street toward Maritime Terrace, note the variety of architectural styles and decorative features. One example is the striking turquoise and white house at no 53. Built in 1910 on the corner of Birkenhead's oldest stre... Read more
Marmaduke Souster built this Queen Anne-style villa with its distinctive columns, wooden shingle cladding and tiled roof, named the Knoll, for his family in ca 1910. His partnership with his architect brother Frederick contributed to many s... Read more
Turn the corner into Glade Place, past the old canvas factory, to glimpse 1890s Eversleigh, built by local architect Arthur White for his brother Alfred, a businessman and Birkenhead Borough Council's Town Clerk. Edward Le Roy bought this f... Read more
The Highbury Community House and Early Learning Centre was once the local New Zealand Police Station. The historic wooden jail cells are still intact at the rear of the property, though not generally accessible to the public. Walking toward... Read more
Widow Amy Hellaby saved her family's meat company, opening branch butcheries and commissioning the Hellaby's (now Marinovic) buildings in 1912 from Fred Souster. Her brick complex of three shops with living quarters above and workshops behi... Read more
The old Post Office is part of an old retail hub for travellers and locals. Before the Harbour Bridge opened in 1959, Hinemoa Street was briefly the 'great north road' or State Highway 1, for those heading north from the car ferry with the ... Read more
Bridge View Road leads past villas and stately trees into Wanganella Street, named after a passenger ship on the trans-Tasman route, which became a hospital ship in World War II. At the end of Wanganella Street, there are six tall palms tha... Read more


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