The Best Historic Sites in New Zealand

By on November 23, 2015

When it came to the exploration of the known world, New Zealand was one of the last countries to be discovered by the European explorers, and this helps to explain why many of the historic sites here are still fairly recent in comparison with many countries. While the beautiful natural features of the country make it well worth a visit, these historic sites help to demonstrate some of the heritage of the islands, and how European influence competed with the Maori natives during the development of the country.

Mangungu Mission House

Mangungu Mission House

The Mangungu Mission House is one of the earliest examples of the buildings developed by Christian missionaries in the early years of the nineteenth century, and was actually built before New Zealand was officially adopted as a British colony in 1840. The building was first established in the late 1820s, but the timber framed mission house that can be seen today were built in the years preceding the signing of the Treaty Of Waitangi. The house itself was built to the symmetrical plans created by Reverend John Hobbs who would become the first resident of the mission house, and today it has been lovingly restored and opened as a museum in a beautiful location overlooking Hokianga Harbor in Raglan.

Pencarrow Lighthouse

Pencarrow Lighthouse

While the Pencarrow Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in New Zealand, it is also distinctive because of its cast iron construction and the fact that it was home to the first and only female lighthouse keeper in New Zealand when the light was first lit in 1859. Getting to the lighthouse itself is an adventure itself, as it is a five mile walk from the end of the road to the tip of the peninsula where the lighthouse is situated. The interesting construction of the lighthouse was entirely produced in England, before being transported by ship in four hundred and eighty packages and being assembled on the peninsula which is at the mouth of the Wellington harbor.

The Cathedrals of Christchurch

The Cathedrals of Christchurch

Some of the most harrowing historic sites in New Zealand are found in Christchurch, where two large and impressive cathedrals suffered significant damage in an earthquake in February 2011. The Christchurch Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament were both significantly damaged and are currently in a state of disrepair as the process to decide whether to rebuild or restore each building is taken. One of the most interesting aspects of the earthquake saw one statue of the Virgin Mary was turned on its position within the Cathedral, from originally facing over the congregation to facing outwards through the window over the city.

Alexandra Redoubt

Alexandra Redoubt

Located a short drive to the south of the city of Auckland, the Alexandra Redoubt is one of the best preserved examples of the fortifications that once spanned along the stretch from the Waikato region up to Auckland. The trenches at this site still show the defendable location and the earthworks that allowed local people to protect themselves within the walls of the buildings that were protected by the ditches that were around two meters in depth. There were similar earthworks built throughout this part of the country, and this is probably the best example of these defensive fortifications that were in use from 1869 until it was abandoned in 1886.

The Old St Paul’s Church

The Old St Paul’s Church

The Old St Paul’s Church in Wellington is one of the oldest religious buildings in New Zealand, having first been commissioned in 1845 just a few years after New Zealand was declared to be a British colony. Construction was however repeatedly delayed, but eventually the church served as the city cathedral from its completion in 1866 until it was replaced by an new cathedral just over a century later in 1967. The wonderful building was made using some of the traditional building techniques adapted for use in New Zealand, with wonderful native timber and superb stained glass windows that are still impressive today.

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