Devonport is a favourite amongst locals and travellers alike. Located conveniently close but with unique activities and attractions, it should be on every Auckland visitor’s itinerary. Find out what to do there with our helpful guide.
Only 12 minutes ferry from downtown Auckland, Devonport is a world away from central Auckland.
This quaint seaside town is home to an array of fantastic cafes, restaurants and bars, art galleries, museums and boutique shops.
History buffs will appreciate visiting Devonport for its unique military history – in this regard, it really is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand.
Add to all of that gorgeous art deco buildings and a unique local flavour, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic spot to visit!
Whether you’re visiting Devonport for the day, are stopping over on your way to Waiheke Island, or live in the neighbourhood, this guide will help you plan your time in one of Auckland’s favourite little villages.
The Best Things to See and Do in Devonport
1. Venture up North Head
A must for history-buffs, North Head is the most significant coastal defence site in the country.
The 2km self-guided walk takes in fantastic views of the Hauraki Gulf and countless historic sites; both Māori and military.
One of the oldest volcanoes in Auckland (we have approximately 50 of them!), North Head was formed over 50,000 years ago. Now, it provides the perfect backdrop to reflect on what could have been and to enjoy a picnic with your family.
Over the course of the walk (which takes about an hour, depending on how often you stop), you’ll find a military tunnel complex and a series of gun fortifications and emplacements. All of these historical artefacts are well signposted, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn about our intriguing history. Dating back to 1888, these military installations were built to protect the city from a predicted Russian invasion. Additions were later made for WW1 and WW2, though fortunately these installations were never required.
North Head is easily accessible from town, be it from the southern end of Cheltenham beach or from King Edward Parade (connecting through to Cheltenham Road and Takarunga Road). It’s hard to miss North Head standing proudly at the end of the peninsula.
The reserve is open from 6 am – 10 pm, seven days a week. It’s worth noting though that the vehicle gates are only open from 6 am – 6 pm.
2. Enjoy Sunset from Mount Victoria (Takarunga)
A popular volcanic landmark in Devonport, Mt Vic (as it’s affectionately known by locals) offers incredible views and memories of a unique history.
Accessible by foot (from Kerr Street via Victoria Road), it only takes 15 minutes or so to walk to the summit. From the top, you’ll take in stunning views of the Auckland skyline, Waitemata Harbour, and the Harbour Bridge.
Takarunga (the Māori name for Mount Victoria) was once home to a Māori pā (a fortified village). Even today, terraces and pits can still be found on the upper slopes of the mountain.
Alongside signs of ancient Māori settlements, military equipment is also clearly visible. This was installed for an expected Russian invasion. Fortunately, this never eventuated but it’s still fun to explore the different bunkers and artillery emplacements (including one of the last disappearing guns found anywhere in the world – another of which can also be found up North Head).
You’ll also find a field filled with colourful painted mushrooms! They’re actually air vents for a water-pumping station but they make for great photos.
3. Jump on the Devonport ‘Explorer Tour’
Departing each hour, on the hour from the wharf, the Devonport Explorer Tour shows visitors many of the local highlights.
The tour itself runs for an hour and includes visits to both North Head and Mt Vic along with many key points in Devonport. Along the way, you’ll relax in mini-van comfort and enjoy guided commentary.
If you so choose, it’s even possible to jump off your tour to enjoy more time at your favourite spots (or maybe a swim at one of the beautiful beaches). When you’re ready, simply rejoin one of the following tours. Your ticket allows you access to the vans right through the day so you’ll have complete flexibility.
This is the perfect way for older visitors to enjoy the sights of Devonport and for those without transport to have a good look around.
All of the above is included in your $40 ticket price (base fare) for adults, along with a return ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Tickets for children ages 5 to 15 years old is at $30.
99 Quay Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010
4. Join a Segway Tour
Perfectly built for fun, a Segway is also the ideal way to travel around Devonport!
Joining an experienced local guide, you’ll be taught how to ride your Segway (and get plenty of practice in) before zipping off through town. Enjoying waterfront views, you’ll also explore Devonport’s historic backstreets. Throw in stunning beaches, parks and volcanoes, and you’re in for a treat.
Throughout your tour, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop for photos, learn from your local tour guide about the history of Devonport and put your Segway through its paces.
These tours are full of fun, history, and everything in between!
Magic Broomstick Segway Tours – Devonport Ferry Terminal 1 Queens Parade, Devonport, Auckland 0624
5. Enjoy Devonport’s Private Bay – Stanley Point ‘Secret Cove’
A bit of a hidden gem in Devonport, Stanley Point (Secret Cove) spent years being tucked away from the public.
Once on private land, the accessway to this stunning little beach has since been purchased by the council, once again allowing access to Aucklanders.
This stunning hidden bay is an amazing spot that now can be enjoyed by everyone.
Imagine swimming under the umbrella of Pōhutukawa trees on a full tide on a late summer afternoon, cicadas singing with the sun setting behind the Harbour Bridge – it’s magical.Chris Darby, North Shore Councillor
6. Visit the Ferry Building, Waterfront, Beach & High Street
If you arrive into Devonport by ferry, you’ll find yourself on the wharf.
With beautiful beach views and fabulous retail shops, the ferry building leads onto the waterfront and to Devonport Beach. There you’ll find a fantastic reserve (which proves the perfect picnic spot) and a large playground – it’s a great place to entertain the kids!
If it’s a nice day, it’s also a fantastic place to take a dip; the water is clear and the sand is gorgeous.
Once finished at the beach and park, you’ll want to head over to the high street, where you’ll find countless boutiques and cafes. The shopping in Devonport is unique and fabulous, so it’s definitely worth planning so time to check out their treasures.
7. Check out these Beaches and Walks in Devonport
There’s so much to do in Devonport that it’s almost impossible to include everything! We recommend the following too…
- Walk around the rocks from the Navy Museum to Cheltenham Beach (around the base of North Head). Check out the rock pools as you go.
- Check out Lover’s Cove at the base of North Head – a lovely quiet bay.
- Relax at Cheltenham Beach. This beautiful bay is sheltered and the ideal spot for a swim or to sunbathe (but don’t forget your sunscreen!) Refuel with a coffee at one of the awesome cafes on Vauxhall Road.
- Wander over to Narrowneck Beach. This is another stunning golden sandy beach in Devonport. It enjoys fabulous views back over Rangitoto Island and, when the tide is low, you can actually walk right around the rocks to Cheltenham Beach.
8. Check Out the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum
If you’re a history buff then a visit to the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum is a must whilst in town.
It makes sense that the Auckland suburb with such strong historic links to the military would host the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
With a range of engaging exhibitions, the museum is both interesting and informative. It’s a great addition to the Devonport community.
64 King Edward Parade, Devonport, Auckland 0624
9. Enjoy a Movie at The Vic
This stunning old theatre is worth checking out, regardless of the movies on show!
A gem in the community, this is the oldest purpose-built cinema in Australasia. Built in 1912, in the days of the silent film, this art deco theatre now hosts films, live performances and a range of special events.
We highly recommend picking up one of their handmade gelatos whilst visiting – they’re delicious.
A stunning building with old-town charm, a visit to The Vic is always a great option.
Pro tip: Pop along on a Tuesday for discounted tickets.
48 Victoria Road, Devonport, Auckland 0624
10. Pick Up a Momento at Art by the Sea
Art by the Sea is a popular art gallery in Devonport. They specialise in both fine and contemporary art and focus on affordable pricing, meaning that everyone can take home a beautiful piece of art.
All of the pieces in this gallery have been created by New Zealand artists, some of whom have been contributing works for more than 20 years!
We recommend swinging by as you’re enjoying a relaxed afternoon in Devonport.
162 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland 0622
11. Visit the Devonport Museum
A unique addition to this little community, the Devonport Museum is a treasure-trove of local history.
Documenting a range of photographs, memorabilia and local records, the museum does a great job of sharing the town’s development.
To walk into this museum is to walk back into a totally different time in New Zealand!
33 Vauxhall Road, Devonport, Auckland 0624
12. Enjoy a meal or drink
Devour a Gigantic Ice Cream at White’s Dairy
Serving up giant scoops since 1994, White’s Dairy is a local institution!
Though your typical single/double scoop ice creams are available, it’s the 10-scoop giant that people really flock there for! Perfect for your next fun Insta snap, these ice creams aren’t for the faint of heart.
They are, however, surprisingly affordable and absolutely delicious! Perfect to cool down in the summertime (and let’s face it, any season and reason really!)
16 Vauxhall Road, Devonport, Auckland 0624
Enjoy Lunch at the Torpedo Bay Cafe
Perched right on the water’s edge, you’ll find the Torpedo Bay Cafe.
A part of the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Devonport, this is the perfect spot for a relaxed brunch or lazy lunch. With beautiful views out over the Auckland Harbour, it really is hard to beat the Torpedo Bay Cafe!
They have a wide range of cabinet food and an à la carte menu, along with coffee and dessert treats (perfect for afternoon tea by the bay).
If you’re showing visitors around Devonport, this is, without doubt, a must-see on your travels.
64 King Edward Parade, Devonport, Auckland 0624
Tuck into a Quality Kiwi Pie at Baked
Whilst in the area there’s one bakery that you just have to visit!
Baked is widely recognised as being one of the best bakeries in Auckland, and they do a great job of literally everything on their menu. From their incredibly soft bread to an amazing assortment of good ol’ meat pies, this bakery is a winner.
The prices are fair and the food is fresh and delicious. Always served with a smile, this is what a bakery visit should be all about!
Devonport, Auckland 0624
Knock Back a Brew at Tiny Triumphs
A firm favourite amongst locals, a visit to Tiny Triumphs is one of the best things to do in Devonport.
Quirky, eclectic and friendly, you can expect a warm welcome upon arrival to this little pub.
They have a fantastic wee collection of beers on tap, fantastic live music and a lovely laid-back atmosphere. It really is the perfect place to meet friends or relax after a busy day exploring.
5 Clarence Street, Devonport, Auckland 0624
Pro Tip: The Esplanade Bar and Grill pictured above is also a fantastic place to head for a tipple!
Devonport is a fantastic seaside village. It is a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike.
With so many fantastic things to do there, it makes for a fantastic day trip or weekend getaway!
Keen to connect with locals in town? Join the Devonport Locals Facebook Group!
Photo credit: Auckland Council, Chris McLennan, AucklandNZ, Fullers, 100% Pure New Zealand