Up to 3 hrs for all attractions,
Minimum number of people
required for booking is 5
North Head has commanding views over the Hauraki Gulf and inner harbour which has made it an important lookout and defence site for centuries. The location is also a historic coastal artillery defensive location covering the entrance to the port of Auckland.
North Head is the most significant of all New Zealand's historical coastal defense sited that remain today.
North Head was one of a number of defence forts that were rapidly set up in the late 1800s to defend Auckland from a feared Russian attack. The fort was later expanded as part of Auckland's coastal defence system during World Wars I and II.
A complex of tunnels, guns, searchlights and other fortifications make this a fascinating area to explore. It is now a historic reserve managed by the Department of Conservation.
One of the most interesting items to look at on North Head is the 8 inch disappearing gun, so named as it fired 8 inch shells. The gun was built in 1886. The gun's design was quite ingenious. As the gun fired the recoil pushed the gun backwards and downwards into the pit. This in turn pushed the big bronze shaft under the gun into the lower cylinder where water and air were compressed through a series of valves. The compressed air was stored in the cylinder. The gun was then reloaded and aimed while still out of sight of the enemy. When the gun was ready to fire the pressure in the cylinder was released. This pressure pushed the gun back up to the surface, where the gun was immediately fired. Then the process started all over again.
The gun fired a projectile 203.2 mm in diameter, weighing 210 lbs or about 95kg, to a distance of about 7 km (about to the top of Rangitoto).
From Devonport, follow King Edward Parade along the waterfront and you will see signs to North Head. Vehicle access is via Takarunga Road. Ferries run regularly between downtown Auckland and Devonport.
By car, take the Esmond Road exit from the Northern Motorway, right onto Lake Road, left at Old Lake Rd, via Narrow Neck beach to Vauxhall Road, left onto Tainui Road, right into Chelternam Road and left up Takarunga Road and park in either the lower or upper car-park.