Auckland is an unusual place for parks with many parks being built on volcanic cones, Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest and largest park in the city.
Walking past the tennis centre and bowling greens into the park gives the impression of an English park, however this thought is soon dismissed as you make your way past a large number of exotic and extraordinary trees.
The park is built on the crater of the Pukekawa volcano which is one of the oldest in the Auckland volcanic field and was an important site for the Māori who named it Pukekawa which means ‘hill of bitter memories’. The Europeans bought the land and it was set aside as a public reserve in 1843.
Auckland Domain was set out in the Victorian era like a British park with cricket pitches and the park was landscaped with formal gardens.
Walking around the park, the exotic trees from abroad augment the many New Zealand species to create a strange hybrid of English and native New Zealand landscape.
The Wintergarden complex was established after World War I and consists of: two display glasshouses, one containing temperate plants and the other containing tropical plants with a formal courtyard with a pond in the centre.
Gradually we walked uphill till we reached the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Cenotaph. The large museum building was opened in 1929 and hold a number of Māori performances as well as extensive objects from the history of New Zealand.
The Museum and the Cenotaph sits prominently on the crater rim which gives extensive views of the surrounding area. We sat here from some time enjoying the views and trying to understand some of the unusual typography of Auckland. It is really only when you sit high above the city that you can spot the volcanic cones that are dotted around the landscape.
Auckland Domain is a fascinating place to visit, whilst it does have some similarities to British parks, the trees in particular remind you that you are in a very different environment.
The park is a wonderful place to wander around, the unusual landscape offers a number of novel experiences with strange tree formations creating an otherworldly impression. We could see why New Zealand was the ideal place to film the Lord of the Rings saga.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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