Northcote Point History Walk

Today, Northcote Point enjoys the advantages of a small backwater close to the city. With its many old villas and other historic features, a beautiful coastline, and spectacular views, it’s one of the North Shore’s most interesting heritage areas.

Northcote Point History Walk

Auckland 0627, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council

Tour Information

During his lifetime, accountant and historian George Graham (1874-1952) recorded much of the Māori history of Auckland. Graham lived near the southern end of Northcote Point in the early 1900s. Onewa Pā, as Graham described it, was in early times a fortified village, palisaded and entrenched. Māori fished in the bays and gathered berries and roots from nearby forests.

The oldest known inhabitants of the district were Ngāti Tai, who in ancient times suffered severely from raids of Ngāti Whātua and, in about 1650, from Ngāti Pāoa. Ngāti Whātua then conquered the whole of the Auckland isthmus. Onewa was attacked again and again and in about 1740, the remnants of the Ngāti Tai tribe were driven out. Ngāti Pāoa took over Onewa’s Ngāti Tai villages but were driven back by Ngāti Whātua.

Gradually, the remnants of Ngāti Tai returned in the early 19th century to their old villages at Onewa. After the musket wars of the 1820s and early 1830s, peace returned to the Auckland area. A few Ngāti Tai continued to live at Onewa for some years.

In 1841, the North Shore was included in the vast Mahurangi block, sold by Māori to the Crown, and Onewa Pā passed from Māori ownership. Following the founding of Auckland in 1840, what is now Northcote Point was named Rough Point after Captain David Rough, Auckland’s first harbourmaster and superintendent of works. In 1848, the name was changed to Stokes Point by Captain J. L. Stokes of H. M. Acheron during a survey of Waitematā Harbour.

In the 1840s, the land on Stokes Point was subdivided into eight large lots and sold in the early 1850s to Phillip Callan, brickmaker; John McGechie, farmer; Major Isaac Rhodes Cooper; and Colonel Robert Wynyard. In 1867, the end of the point was subdivided by the Crown and became the Town of Woodside. Callan had a brickworks at the southern end of Sulphur Beach, possibly from the early 1840s on the basis of an agreement with Māori. Another early colonial industry on Stokes Point was R. Clark’s soap and candle works, present in 1848, reputedly near Sulphur Beach.

In 1854, James Reed was given a licence to run the Stokes Point Ferry and in 1859, Callan built his North Auckland Hotel to take advantage of the ferry service and the main route north. Sulphur works were built by James Tunny and James Pond next to Sulphur Beach in 1878, but it did not last long. From the 1870s, Northcote was well-known for strawberry gardens in the Belle Vue Avenue area. By 1880, most of the Point had been subdivided and many of the old villas surviving today date from this period.

From 1848, Stokes Point was administered as part of the Hundred of Pupuke, which covered much of the North Shore. The hundreds were dissolved in 1856 and until 1866, the Auckland Provincial Council administered the roads. The North Shore Highway District was established in 1866 and became the North Shore Riding of Waitemata County in 1876. The Stokes Point district was renamed Northcote by Major Benton in the early 1880s, it is thought after the British aristocrat Sir Stafford Northcote. Northcote attained borough status in 1908. The late 1920s saw significant growth in Northcote, with the cinema, bus barns, and the concrete road being built in 1927, and the post office in 1929.

The construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and motorway in 1958-9 drastically changed the Northcote Point environment. The eastern coastline was almost obliterated, the ferries ceased, shops closed, and the point became something of a backwater. Rapid northward development took place and the Northcote Shopping Centre opened in December 1958. Northcote became part of North Shore City in 1989, which in turn joined the Auckland supercity in 2010.

Starting Point: Bridgeway Theatre (122 Queen Street, Northcote)

Parking: Available along Queen Street

Terrain: Over level and some hilly ground, with some stairs

Disclaimer: The walk is along public roads and contains historical facts about the buildings and the area. Most of the sites are private property and many are used as private residences. Please respect the environment and the privacy of local residents, and do not trespass on private property. Neither Auckland Council nor private property owners accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, or injury to you or your property arising from use of this tour.

Copyright 2021 Auckland Council. Auckland Council holds all copyrights associated with this document. You may not copy or reproduce the content of any of these pages without permission from Auckland Council. Auckland Council has taken every care to ensure that the information contained in this leaflet is complete and accurate. Auckland Council accepts no responsibility arising from, or in connection with, your use of this walking tour and the information contained in it.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

The Onewa Picture Drome (now Bridgeway Boutique Cinemas) and the Waitemata Bus & Transport Company Ltd bus barn, as well as several nearby offices and shops were built in 1927 by E. and J. Fraser, engineers. By 1929, the theatre’s nam... Read more
Northcote Point has had a post office since 1874. This new post office was opened in 1929. Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward congratulated Northcote Borough on its progress and promised to “facilitate the citizens' request about a bridge.”... Read more
Halls Beach was named after Peter Hall of Winks & Hall, well-known Auckland cabinet-makers, who bought several acres next to the beach in 1870. The property was bought in about 1900 by the Fraser family, who later built the Onewa Pictur... Read more
Across the street was once Tarry's Hall, built in the 1870s. The hall was the first non-residential structure south of the post office in Northcote and was owned and run by Mary Tarry. It hosted dances, public gatherings, and early borough... Read more
The butcher's shop, now a residence, was built just after 1900 by R & W Hellaby who, from 1873, built butchers' shops all over Auckland. The building has been heavily remodelled and served as the Old Butcher Shop Art Studio for several ... Read more
In 1893, Henry Lepper, a tinsmith, became Northcote's postmaster. After his death in 1906, his wife Edith filled the position until 1929, when the post office moved to its later location across from The Bridgeway. While serving as postmaste... Read more
This architecturally innovative house, home to the design firm CREATIONZ, was designed by the well-known Auckland architect Peter Middleton and built in 1963. Continue south on Queen Street. There was once an ambulance shelter in this area,... Read more
Northcote’s first postmaster, John Grout Denby, ran a shop and post office here until 1893, as well as strawberry gardens in the Belle Vue Avenue area. The Clow family bought the property in the 1890s and established a bakery and tearooms... Read more
Originally owned by John Broady, a storekeeper. In 1912, it became a billiard saloon and in 1946, the Returned Services Association clubrooms. Continue down Queen Street.
Built as two shops in the early 1920s by grocer Thomas Heaton. In later years, the shops were combined as Hall's grocery before being converted to residences in the 1970s. Continue down Queen Street.
Northcote's first hotel was built by Philip Callan in 1859 and is thought to have been constructed of bricks from Callan's Sulphur Beach brickworks. It was located on the other side of King Street from the present building and was originall... Read more
The buildings here were built by Fred Souster, architect, around 1910 for his daughter-in-law, Rachel Souster. The shop on the northern side was a grocery and general store, and the other a dairy. They were converted into a residence in the... Read more
Fisherman's Wharf, reputedly Auckland's first marine restaurant, was built in 1970-1 by restaurateur Bob Sell. For the opening night on September 7, 1971, Sell invited “all the people who never go out anywhere,” and 150 senior citizens,... Read more
In pre-European times, Stokes Point was the site of Te Onewa Pā, a stronghold of great strategic importance. Onewa means 'divided earth.’ It refers to a trench fortification that ran across the headland. In 1908, a scout den was built on... Read more
Opened on May 30, 1959, the bridge was designed by Freeman Fox & Partners and built by the Cleveland Bridge and Dorman Long partnership. It is over a kilometre long. The four-lane bridge greatly accelerated the development of the North ... Read more
James Trounson built Quinton Villa in 1901 in the ornate Edwardian style. The villa was built from one huge kauri, chosen by Trounson and brought by scow to the point from land he owned north of Dargaville. Trounson gifted some of this land... Read more
This house, the largest on the point, was built in about 1906 by Percy William Bolland, tailor. He sold the house in 1911 to Daniel Dickenson Metge, headmaster of Newton East Primary School. It remains a private residence. Continue up Princ... Read more
The town planner F. W. O. Jones’ vision for Northcote Point in the 1950s involved demolishing old houses along the spine of the point and building intensive housing and high-rise apartments. The only part... Read more
This once popular beach, named by Māori Oneoneroa, meaning “long sand beach,” was reclaimed for the motorway in the 1950s. The area got its name from the sulphur works opened there in 1878 by James Tunny and James Pond, who brought cru... Read more
This late 1950s building, considered to be a fine example of its era, was designed by Llew Piper and Associates for use by the Auckland Harbour Bridge Authority to house its control room for the toll plaza, once located directly across from... Read more
This park was named after Sir Edward Stafford, who at 37 years remains New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister, first chosen to lead the government in 1856. Stafford’s second wife was Mary Bartley, daughter of Thomas Bartley who bought hi... Read more
This Victorian villa was the scene of a murder on 11 February 1930. The well-respected metalworker Arthur Thomas Munn poisoned his second wife, Lily May Weatherby, shortly after she made a will leaving him everything, including the house. L... Read more
Across the road, this 1940s English cottage-style house was designed by M. K. Draffin, who also designed the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Additions made in the late 1990s to the northern end of the home complement the original design. Cros... Read more
Once named Balmoral House, this Late Victorian-style home was built for Roseina Hand in about 1900. In the late 1920s, it became the home and surgery of Dr Reginald Dudding, whose practice stretched from Northcote to Kaukapakapa. Sometimes ... Read more
This antique shop was originally the premises of cabinetmaker and undertaker Albert Hurley. The Hurley family bought the property in 1908 and sold it in 1945. From 1950 to the 1970s, it was occupied by Alfred Yates, greengrocer. Continue up... Read more
This private home was built in about 1915 by the Giles family, who hosted many musical evenings in the large music room running along the southern side of the house. In 1937, it was purchased for the Returned Soldiers' Association’s clubr... Read more
The Northcote Methodist Church as built in 1901 by George Carter at a cost of £205. The Sunday School hall on Stafford Road was built in 1922. The church, hall, and the two villas next to the church are now owned by the Tongan Methodist Ch... Read more
In 1911, William Henry Ormrod built a house and a grocery shop, now a wine shop, on the corner. The octagonal phone box originally stood at the corner of Onewa and Gladstone Roads. Turn up Rodney Road.
The Borough of Northcote was formed in 1908. The first council meeting was held in these new chambers on March 12, 1912. Informal council meetings – known as 'the Funnel Committee' – were often held around the funnel on the ferry, as on... Read more
Lodge Onewa was set up in 1911 and these headquarters were built in 1912. Lodge North Harbour now meets in the refectory and the hall, once the venue for dances and community meetings (anything from Sunday school or the croquet club to poli... Read more
In pre-colonial times, there were wāhi tapu (sacred sites), kāinga (villages), canoe landing sites, and gardens associated with the historic settlement of Awataha. Māori used the tidal area to fish and gather shellfish. Māori tracks run... Read more
The first Northcote policeman was stationed near the hotel. In 1913, the Crown built the Clarence Road police station, with a paddock for the constable's horse. Legend has it that when Samuel Flavell, constable-in-charge, needed his garden ... Read more


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