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Just across Auckland harbour from the central business district, the historic suburb of Devonport is full of charm and character. Decades of relative isolation by road, followed by visionary town planning, has preserved Devonport's heritage. The streets are lined with wooden colonial villas built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are also some large stately homes along the shore facing the city centre.
From the ferry wharf, the main street leads inland towards the volcanic cone Mount Victoria. Preserved buildings along the street accommodate cafes and small shops selling crafts, antiques and collectibles.
The adjacent naval base was the main focus of Devonport for many decades. A museum at the base offers a wonderful collection of navy memorabilia and fascinating stories of New Zealand's naval history.
Take a walk around Torpedo Bay along the harbour's edge to North Head. This volcanic mountain is strategically positioned above the shipping channel which rounds the headland as it enters the inner harbour. For many years a closed defence position, North Head is now a public area managed by the Department of Conservation. The old gun emplacements and underground connecting tunnels are restored and open for you to explore - bring a torch. The grassy slopes of the hill offer numerous picnic spots with widespread views over the city, harbour and islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Ferries, the occasional ship and a steady stream of pleasure craft add to the entertainment.
A track around the base of North Head passes along a rocky ledge to a small secluded beach before heading down onto Cheltenham Beach, one of the North Shore's prettiest seaside suburbs.