This expansive 75ha park was set aside by Governor Robert Fitzroy in 1843, making it Auckland’s oldest park. Today it is used for numerous events, sporting activities and civic celebrations throughout the year. It boasts a wide range of stunning settings to enable Aucklanders and visitors to connect with nature in the heart of urban Auckland. Natural features include tree shaded picnic areas, bush walks, formal gardens and duck ponds. These are complemented by Auckland’s most iconic historic buildings and visitor attractions, the Wintergardens and Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The governing framework for the park is the Auckland Domain Act 1987, the Auckland Domain Management Plan 1993 and the Auckland Unitary Plan 2016.
The Domain has been at the heart of Auckland’s civic life as a growing city for the past 170 years.
The history of the development and use of the park since it was created is summarised below:
1880 – Domain Drive and Lower Domain Drive were constructed.
1866 – Auckland’s first piped water supply was drawn from the springs near the duckponds to the inner-city area. This was used with some modifications until 1877.
1867 – The Acclimatisation Gardens were created by the Acclimatisation Society. They included gardens, aviaries and a house erected for a curator. The gardens were used to propagate imported trouts, grains, grasses, shrubs, flowers, fruit trees, as wells as swans and other birds to be acclimatised in New Zealand. The society moved from the Domain site during the 1880s.
1913 – The Auckland Industrial exhibition was held over five months during 1913-1914.
1920’s – The Wintergarden complex was built in the art deco style.
1925-1929 – Auckland War Memorial Museum was built between 1925 and 1929 as a memorial for the sacrifice of those New Zealanders who served the British Empire in the Great War. The cenotaph and surrounding court of honour was consecrated in November 1929. At the same time the first section of the museum was officially opened. The back half of the museum was completed in 1960.
1936 – The main Domain gates were completed. These were designed by William Gummer in association with Mr Gross, a sculptor. On the top of the left pylon is a bronze figure of a male pointing towards the sports fields. Allan Elliot, a NZ medallist at the Los Angeles Olympics, was the model for the statue. On the right pylon is a sandstone swan.
1940 – As part of Auckland’s centenary celebrations, and to represent the continued peace agreement between the Waikato tribes of Te Wherowhero, Ngāti Whātua and Ngāpuhi, a totara tree was planted in the Auckland Domain. The planting was overseen by Te Puea Herangi, the great granddaughter of Te Wherowhero.
1942-1944 – Camp Hale was established for some United States forces stationed in New Zealand. Its 15 buildings housed up to 750 US Army personnel.
1955 – An Auckland City Centennial Memorial was unveiled behind the Domain nursery. This included a reflecting pool and bronze statuary in classical Grecian style funded by a bequest from Alexander Richard Dickey Watson. This area is commonly referred to as Watson’s Bequest Garden.