With the weather still variable, now’s the perfect time of year to step inside some of Auckland, New Zealand‘s most charming historic homes. Here’s our pick of the best.
Best Auckland Historic Homes
Acacia Cottage, Cornwall Park
Charming Acacia Cottage was built back in 1841 and you’d have originally encountered it behind a store in Shortland Street in the city centre. Threatened by developers, in 1920, it was moved into Cornwall Park where it still stands today, a popular visitor attraction. It’s the oldest wooden home in Auckland, built by traders Sir John Logan Campbell and William Brown, who owned the store. They were business partners but shared a home, the Browns taking over the main house and Campbell occupying bachelor quarters out back. Their firm flourished and Campbell earned the nickname “Father of Auckland” on account of his roles as mayor and benefactor, but the cottage remains as a reminder of their humble beginnings.
The antithesis of Acacia Cottage, Highwic is a sprawling Gothic mansion, the legacy of Alfred Buckland. Occupying a site overlooking Newmarket, it was initially built as a home for auctioneer Buckland, his wife Eliza and their seven children. As the family grew, so too did Highwic, extended in 1874, 1883 and again in 1884, though Eliza sadly died. Alfred remarried and his second wife continued to live at Highwic after his death. The house is said to be haunted, with a ghostly figure seen in the bedroom as well as the ghost of a black dog spotted roaming around the garden. Today, you can take a tour, though if you are easily spooked, you might want to avoid the place after dark.
One of Auckland’s most notable stone dwellings, Kinder House was commissioned by Bishop G. A. Selwyn and constructed in 1857. Its original purpose was as a schoolmaster’s house, to be occupied by a teacher at the Church of England Grammar School across the street. That teacher was John Kinder, a Brit by birth who taught Greek, Latin and mathematics. He was a talented painter; though he never taught art it was his passion and his work is on display at the house to this day. He was also an accomplished photographer, specialising in landscapes and architecture which can also be viewed, giving an insight into nineteenth century Auckland.
Starting out as a farmhouse back in 1863, Alberton soon became a grand mansion. Expansion changed its character, with strong Indian influences apparent in its verandas and turrets. By the end of the nineteenth century, Alberton was party central, a popular location for balls, garden parties and music recitals. Unsurprisingly, it’s now a popular choice for weddings and also for film makers. Set in extensive grounds, this timber home retains its elegance and it’s easy to imagine what life there might have been like over a century ago.
If you’re seeing the best Auckland historic homes over the Christmas and New Year season, make sure to book your accommodation and car rental way ahead as the places are getting booked out in summer. There are also other tour options in Auckland.