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Make sure you visit North Head - a jewel of Devonport - during your stay in Auckland.
A Defence site for centuries
When you visit North Head and see the spectacular views of the Hauraki Gulf and the inner Auckland Harbour you will understand why centuries ago it became an important lookout and defence site for the local Maori and later for the European settlers. For the Maori people North Head or Maungauika is a "taonga" (treasured thing). The tangata whenua (the indigenous people "People of the land") to this day have a special bond with this land both spiritual, cultural and historical.
A Volcanic Cone
A succession of volcanic eruptions over 50,000 years ago formed North Head, one of the oldest volcanic cones in Auckland's volcanic field. Originally North Head was the site of a Maori pa or fortified village. Maori were attracted to the Devonport area because of its strategic position, it's marine surroundings and the rich volcanic soil perfect for gardening.
The Russians are Coming!
Soon after the Europeans settled in Auckland in the 1840s North Head became the site of the first pilot station for guiding ships into the harbour. By the 1880s however, it was feared that the Russians were on their way and North Head was established as a fort to defend against the imagined invasion of Auckland. Prisoners housed at the summit of North Head were put to work digging tunnels and bunkers, mixing and pouring concrete and creating the underground labyrinth we can explore today.
The Department of Conservation
Until the army left North Head in the 1950s it was the main defence headquarters for Auckland's coast, it then became a reserve in the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park. The navy continued to run a telecommunications training school on the summit of North Head until 1996. The Department of Conservation now take care of North Head and you can find them occupying the barracks at the summit to this day.
Magic Broomstick (Segway) Tours is a D.O.C. approved provider of tours to North Head. After your Segway ride to the summit you can explore the complex of tunnels and bunkers including the "disappearing gun" that make North Head a must-see historic site.