Before my husband and I flew to Auckland, New Zealand, I checked out Tripadvisor to learn the Top Ten Recommended things to do in this area. I always knock shopping and amusement parks off the list because, frankly, those are not our ideas of fun. If it has animals, nature, history, or walking, we consider it a possibility of places we may wish to explore. Devonport was #9 of 256 things to do. After visiting, I think Devonport should be moved up higher on the list. Here’s why.
Devonport is only a twelve-minute Fuller Ferry ride from the city. And for NZ$12.00 (currently about $9.00 U.S.) per person, you will get a round trip ticket.
When John and I first walked off the ferry in Devonport, my initial impression was that white picket fences must be mandatory here. That impression turned out to be incorrect. Still, the majority of homes had freshly painted fences with perfect white slats. If we were in the U.S., this colorful Auckland suburb might be called Mayberry.
The first thing a visitor should do is: get a map. Although Devonport has a four-block (or so) city center, this town is filled with history. The second thing visitors should do is hand their map to the best navigator in their party. None of the maps John or I found discussed the length of the suggested walks. No one we asked could tell us how long it should take, or how many miles we would be traveling if we followed the entire dotted line. The walk is self-guided. It is not marked. Visitors can do the entire walk or just those sections that interest them.
After we left the ferry terminal and downtown area, there were few places to buy food or water. During our entire trek, John and I only came upon one café and then one coffee shop at the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy at Torpedo Bay. And the only reason we came across the latter is because we misread the map and walked further down King Edward Parade than we should have. So plan ahead. Bring water, and if you like, a few snacks.
My husband and I decided to do the entire walk. We gawked at the many historic homes and beautiful waterfront scenery, including the Davenport Clock Tower. Trivia tidbit: apparently this tower has appeared on many of the town’s past Christmas cards.
The next stop was the North Heads Historic Reserve, a hilly (later we learned volcanic-made) park facing Cheltenham Beach. There are three recommended trails—each one takes between 20-30 minutes. White Route: Coastal Loop, Green Route: Summit Loop, Yellow Route: Tunnel Loop. The names are pretty much self-explanatory, and we did a small portion of each one. The views of the bay, the village, and the beach were worth the walk to the top of the mountain. We also explored North Head, one of the bunkers on the site and part of the Summit Loop.
During our three-plus hour walk, we got a little lost—although lost isn’t an accurate statement because we always knew we were in Devonport. We just couldn’t find our location on the map and ended up adding quite a few steps to my Fitbit total (over 25k) for the day. So we got to see a lot more Devonport than we initially planned.
We finally made our way back to the township (starving) and had lunch at the first restaurant we found with outside seating: Dixie Brown’s. John and I are learning that New Zealand wait staff does not seem to be in a hurry to take an order. Yet once the order has been taken, it is amazing how fast the food comes to your table. So far we haven’t been wowed by the New Zealand meals (probably due to our selections rather than their preparation), but Dixie Brown’s did have an incredible assortment of gorgeous-looking desserts.
After lunch, we hiked some more. I use the word “hike” to describe this portion of our walk because this town (just like Auckland) has ups and downs and it was a sweaty, uphill tramp to Mt. Victoria. The views of the big city mainland (and the ever prominent Sky City Tower) as well as the bay and colorful Devonport houses turned out to be as pretty as a postcard—just as the Tripadvisor reviews promised.
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