The Domain was set aside in 1880 as a 200-acre public reserve. In the 1880s, a pond and the area immediately surrounding it were used by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society as a testing ground for exotic fish and plant species. These early plantings developed into the initial site of Auckland's botanic gardens, leaving a legacy of magnificent mature trees for visitors to enjoy today.The pond, fed by an underground spring, went on to become Auckland's first water supply. Today it is populated by ducks and the outflow stream runs alongside the picturesque 'Lovers Walk' track through a hillside section of native forest. A second native forest walk leads through a gully, with the option to exit up into the middle of the historic Parnell shopping and restaurant area.The domain area was formed by volcanic activity 140,000 years ago. The large crater, which has a small scoria cone in its centre, forms a natural amphitheatre for large outdoor events like the annual 'Carols in the Park'. The level floor of the crater is covered with sports fields; a wooden cricket pavilion built in 1898 remains today. The rim of the crater offers panoramic views and is a great place to fly a kite. The beautiful Wintergardens, opened in 1913, consist of two large glasshouses each exhibiting either temperate or tropical plants. Between the glasshouses is an enclosed courtyard with fish pond, fountains and classical marble statues. The atmosphere here is charged with romance and often attracts newlyweds for photos on their big day. Behind the Wintergardens, an old quarry forms the perfect location for an extensive native fernery.At the top of the Domain hill stands the architecturally impressive Auckland Museum, a large neo-Greek building that was opened in 1929. A variety of sculptures have been installed throughout the domain and a brochure describing the walk to view them can be obtained from the museum.