Click to download the booklet: Ponsonby Heritage Walks

WALK #1: FREEMAN’S BAY WALK

Stroll from Ponsonby Road to Victoria Park Market through the historic backstreets of a suburb that in 1935 boasted a third of its houses as ‘unfit for habitation’. The slum conditions of this now illustrious suburb gave rise to extreme poverty, overcrowding and the working class vices of prostitution, drinking and crime. This walk offers fascinating insights into the wild past of Ponsonby through the handsome streets of Freeman’s Bay.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Victoria Park was once an open-air morgue?
  • Victoria Park was also home to the first free public kindergarten?
  • The houses of Renall Street were home to clandestine rituals?
  • Freeman’s Bay was the popular hangout of American soldiers, more commonly known as ‘bedroom commandos’?

WALK #2: THREE LAMPS AND ST. MARY’S BAY WALK

Stroll through the Three Lamps district into the heart of St. Mary’s Bay where you will come across a history shaped by bishops, brothels, music, rugby, politics, opera and some of NZ’s most violent criminals. The iconic buildings of this area lay claim to an astonishing range of inhabitants including a host of local and international prominent artists, musicians, politicians and leaders of The Catholic Church. The walk draws in the ghosts of The Gluepot Tavern, The Ponsonby Fire Station, The Ponsonby Post Office, The Leys Institute and St. Mary’s Convent for a dramatic and remarkable tale of the heritage of what is now one of Auckland’s most respectable suburbs.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The Ponsonby Fire Station was once a sly grog house whose customers included those responsible for the Bassett Road Murders?
  • Che Fu, Albert Wendt and Sister Mary Leo were all residents of St. Mary’s Bay?
  • The Library at The Leys Institute was visited by Dr. Seuss?
  • Mick Jagger once performed live at The Gluepot Hotel?

WALK #3: PONSONBY ROAD AND NEIGHBOURHOOD

Walk along Ponsonby Road and cross into the residential neighbourhoods that run either side. It is here that you will discover the stories and secrets of backstreet Ponsonby mirrored by prominent architecture, a mosaic of cultures and the memories of forced evictions and extreme poverty.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Holmdene House was once the popular haunt of transvestites?
  • Freda Stark, Michael Joseph Savage and Bryan Williams were all once residents of Ponsonby?
  • Norfolk Street was a target for the infamous Dawn Raids?
  • Fitzroy Streets’ Brick Warehouse was the original home of the Limbs Dance Company?

WALK #4: RICHMOND ROAD TO K’RD

Walk through the streets of what was labeled Auckland’s largest residential subdivision in 1883. The landscape of this historic district showcases the grandest of buildings and their reflections of feminism, hospitality, pioneering philosophies and great social reform.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Vogel’s Bread was first baked in Ponsonby Road?
  • Auckland Girls Grammar was attended by Sandra Coney and The Yandall Sisters?
  • Artstation was once a Police Station?
  • The mural on the corner of Ponsonby and K’Rd was painted to protest French Nuclear Testing in the Pacific?