Devonport – within sight and just a quick ferry ride across the harbour from downtown Auckland – is one of New Zealand’s favourite seaside suburbs.
Visitors can hop aboard a ferry from the wharf at the bottom of Queen Street (Auckland’s main shopping street), enjoy one of the ‘City of Sails’ best scenic views and be strolling through the historic seaside village in less than 15 minutes. Once ashore there are many small sandy beaches to be discovered as well as a compact village centre bustling with cafés, shops and galleries, and two volcanic cones offering spectacular views.
For locals the 12-minute waterborne commute offers a speedy transport option between home and work in the city, and the charming village of beautiful restored Victorian villas and manicured colonial cottages attests to its enduring popularity as a haven from work and the city buzz.
Over the years, Devonport has been the home of choice for a creative community that has included some of New Zealand’s celebrated writers and artists – music sensation Lorde is among those who have grown up on one of Devonport’s leafy suburban streets with a beach just around the corner.
Devonport is an easy day out for visitors to Auckland. Families will love the fun of arriving by water – no need to look for a parking space though there’s plenty of parking under the pohutukawas by the waterfront and in the village.
The iSITE on the wharf has all the local information and maps on what to do and where to go but the beach, village and promenades are all right there to explore.
Devonport village has an eclectic retro feel about it with quirky boutiques, galleries, parks, museums and a selection of cafés and restaurants for coffee, beer, brunch, lunch or dinner. For a divine treat, the chocolatier at Devonport Chocolates has handmade chocolates and truffles.
Shoppers will enjoy browsing the boutique shops for quality clothing and jewellery or wandering through several local art galleries to see how the land and water have inspired beautiful artworks and photographs.
Beyond the village, it’s an easy stroll along the waterfront or picnic on the lawns while you watch the sails on the Waitemata Harbour with million-dollar city views spread before you. Auckland is said to have the highest boat ownership per capita in the world and Devonport is in the midst of this true water lovers’ paradise.
The headland, stretching out to North Head, is surrounded by sandy white coves with sheltered swimming beaches. Or, check out the panoramic views from the top of North Head or Mount Victoria – you can even take a fun, guided segway tour to the top.
Historic North Head
Explore the underground tunnels, gun emplacements and fortifications at North Head – a volcanic cone that juts out into the harbour offering incredible 360-degree views over the Hauraki Gulf to iconic Rangitoto Island and back to the city skyline.
Historic North Head was once home to a heavily armed fort built to defend Auckland. It was first used in the1880s against a suspected Russian invasion, and then again in 1941 during WWII. Fortified tunnels, mounted artillery, underground storerooms, barracks and guardrooms were all installed.
The Naval Museum, an easy 1.5km stroll from the ferry, occupies a refurbished 19th Century submarine mining station at Torpedo Bay. This state-of-the art space has unique collections of objects that tell the stories of New Zealand’s Navy.
Get out on the water
Many of Auckland’s iconic waterborne adventures are easily accessed via ferry from Devonport. Take a spin on the Waitemata Harbour on a high speed jet boat ride, help sail an America’s Cup racing yacht or head out on a whale and dolphin safari to spot these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. You can even kayak out to a nearby island or see the sights with a relaxing dinner or coffee cruise.
Auckland’s most visible island is the volcanic cone of Rangitoto. Explore by foot or hop on a tour, with a scenic ferry ride across the harbour and a fascinating guided tour on a 4WD road train to the top.
Fullers ferries run regularly from Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal to Devonport.
The Peace and Plenty Inn is a restored Victorian villa situated on the waterfront of the historic maritime village. It also does high tea.
Magic Broomstick Segway Tours offers a quirky sightseeing experience on a Segway Personal Transporter – a fun option to the hike up the hill. Tours depart from the Devonport Ferry Terminal.
For a divine pick-me-up, stop in at Devonport Chocolates.