In 1846, the British government had strong concerns that Auckland was exposed to attack. The French had colonized New Caledonia as well as French Polynesia, and Maori uprisings in the town of Russell were a sign of political unrest. To ensure the safety of New Zealand’s capital (before it was moved to Wellington), veteran soldiers of British wars were brought to defend the city. Known as the “fencible” British force, the soldiers were given transport and homes and allowed to bring their families—under the agreement that if Auckland were attacked, they’d help defend the city. As it turns out, New Zealand’s largest city was never attacked, but the historic cottages and homes that were built still remain intact. Today, as a means of preserving the period of history, 30 of the buildings have been restored and moved to Howick Historical Village, where visitors can take a journey back to the middle of the 19th century. See how early settlers lived and tour inside the homes, and learn the daily routines and chores of Auckland’s military families. Marvel at textiles such as lace and bedcovers that have survived since the 19th century, and wander amidst the furniture and paintings of these early New Zealand homes. Read the stories of individuals and families who lived between these walls, and should hunger strike while wandering the village, grab a bite in the Homestead Café—a surprisingly charming, old-world eatery with classically home-cooked meals.
Howick Historical Village is located 20 minutes east of Auckland in the suburb of Pakuranga. In addition to visiting by bus or car, it’s also possible to ride the ferry to the port at Half Moon Bay, and hire a taxi for the five-minute drive. The village is open every day from 10am-4pm, with the exceptions of Christmas, ANZAC Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children, and “Live Days,” with actors and performers are offered every third Sunday.