Auckland is a city built for recreation. There is no better evidence of this than it’s lush green parks. Cornwall Park Auckland is no exception. It’s the place for a picnic under the trees, an exploration of historic buildings, a hike to the summit of a volcano that was once a Maori Pa, and a planetarium.
Sir John Logan Campbell gifted Cornwall Park to the people of Auckland in 1901:
“I bid you welcome to Cornwall Park. May its green fields and pure air be to you a never-failing enjoyment . . . A recreation ground secured to you, your children and your children’s children for all time.”
The park is all that he envisioned, and so much more. Centred around Maungakiekie, the volcanic cone of One Tree Hill, Cornwall Park Auckland attracts tourists and locals. Within its gates, we found thousands of trees, historic buildings, Stardome Observatory, picnic tables and BBQs, a children’s playground, tennis courts, sports fields, an olive grove, a sunken garden, a band rotunda, farm animals, and the obelisk located at the summit.
What’s in Cornwall Park?
Auckland’s oldest wooden building
Acacia Cottage was John Logan Campbell initial Auckland residence and is Auckland’s oldest surviving wooden building. This is not its original location, as it has been moved from Shortland Street.
Across the road from Acacia Cottage is Huia Lodge, another historic building worth exploring. A Discovery Hub (manned information booth) is inside Huia Lodge. Both are open to the public during the day.
A lush green park throughout, there are also lovely gardens outside the Acacia Cottage.
Cornwall Park farm animals
Despite being in the middle of a major city, Cornwall park is a working farm, and an opportunity for city dwellers to discover farm animals. There are about 60 cows and 600 sheep that graze in many paddocks at Cornwall Park. Visitors are welcome to enter them, and in many cases walk through the paddocks on a trail.
Cornwall Park is one of several Auckland parks with farm animals, as is Shakespear Park.
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Several places to eat in Cornwall Park, Auckland
There are three eateries in Cornwall Park. Hours vary seasonally and during the daytime, at least one of the three is usually open. Or, bring your own food and enjoy a BBQ or picnic under the trees. If none of these appeals, there are plenty of other unique restaurants in Auckland.
Cornwall Park Café: is my favourite place to eat in the park. Relaxed, friendly and comfortable, it draws weekend crowds. We often sit on the huge beanbags while we wait for a table or opt for a shared table. Best of all, they have gluten-free options.
Cornwall Park Bistro: An upscale eating option, the Bistro is a modern restaurant still in its original building, serving fresh New Zealand foods.
The Creamery – the place for a quick coffee, an ice cream cone or milkshake, fish and chips, muffin, or scone.
Barbecues: The park has BBQs available for use by visitors (first come-first served).
Hiking and walking trails
So many places to walk, from the uphill trails to One Tree Hill, to winding your way through the over 8000 trees in the park. Paddocks have gates to enter or stiles to go over.
These gates are behind Huia Lodge and separate Cornwall Park from One Tree Hill. The road takes vehicles to the car park for the summit and to Stardome. Or, if you are feeling energetic, there is an unofficial hiking path just beyond the gate that leads to the top. (While geographically connected, the two parks are run by different entities in Auckland.)
The start of the “unofficial” footpath to the summit of One Tree Hill, just beyond the gates.
One Tree Hill historic monument and obelisk
Climb up Maungakiekie mountain (One Tree Hill) for massive city views and an interesting bit of New Zealand history. Once a Maori Pa, this landmark has a fascinating story to tell.
There are two ways up to the top, either a hiking trail or walking along the road. We generally walk the trail up and the road back down. The road is closed to vehicles, with limited exceptions.
The “One Tree” isn’t there anymore. Māori activists attacked the lone tree by chainsaw in 1994, and then again in 2000. To replace it, a grove of native trees has been planted near the top.
The obelisk at the summit was constructed in 1940 as part of the Centennial Celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, although not unveiled until 1948. Also at the summit is the gravesite of Sir John Logan Campbell.
Beautiful views from the top
Also in the park is Stardome Observatory and Planetarium. They take out the telescopes after some evening planetarium shows.
Also at Cornwall Park
- Band Rotunda
- Exercise Equipment
- Memorial Steps
- Native Arboretum
- Olive Grove
- Rongo Stone
- Sunken Garden
- Tai Chi classes
Practical information on visiting Cornwall Park Auckland
- Cornwall Park is one of several Auckland Regional urban parks in the city.
- Park entrances are on Manukau Road, Greenlane West, and Campbell Road. There is plenty of free car and bicycle parking on the grounds.
- The park is open 7 am to dusk every day and is always free to enter.
- Weddings are popular year-round, although most popular in the spring and summer. (Bookings are required and available at two locations in the park).
- Check out the schedule of events in Cornwall Park.
- There is a map of the park on the park’s website.
Read Next: More Things to do in Auckland New Zealand
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