Travel

Audience with Auckland's big gun

North Head's disappearing gun could be in for a makeover.
North Head's disappearing gun could be in for a makeover. Jim Eagles

THE massive eight-inch barrel of the disappearing gun, which has stood on Auckland's North Head for 125 years, seemed to be pointing at the Waiheke ferry which was zooming past across the Waitemata Harbour. Not quite the Russian warships the colonial government had in mind when it bought 10 of these guns in 1886, but it would do.

I hauled on the lever and the gun raised slowly out of the pit in which it had been lurking. Fire! I imagined the 95kg shell hurtling across the water towards the ferry. Meanwhile, the recoil sent the gun back down into the pit where it could sit in safety until next time.

Unfortunately it wasn't the actual disappearing gun that I was raising and lowering but a model installed in the underground chamber just behind the real thing - which can't move - to give an idea of how the guns used to work.

It's the latest step in the Department of Conservation's ongoing programme to help visitors enjoy the complex of tunnels, observation points and gun emplacements developed on North Head during the 140 years it was a key part of New Zealand's defensive system.

Further up the hill I came across one of the uniformed volunteers who, in the 1860s, helped create these defences. Well, okay, he was only a lifesized cardboard cutout, but he did help give a feel for the different stages North Head has gone through.

Further on, I also met one of the colonial artillery officers who manned the guns during the renewed Russian scare of 1886-1908, the soldiers who expanded the defences in the two world wars and a wireless expert from the Navy Communications Training School which sat on the summit from 1958 to 1996.

DoC archaeologist Dave Veart said the next stage in telling the hill's story would probably be to put a small light and sound show in one of the concrete bunkers. "It's all about allowing people to experience the history of North Head which, after all, goes back to the arrival of the first Maori, takes in the beginnings of colonial settlement and includes the evolution of our defence forces."

And one day that experience might even include a chance to make the real disappearing gun go up and down, as it did 100 years ago, instead of a model. "I do have an estimate from Colin Zeff, who's done a lot of work for Motat, who reckons he could get the gun moving again for around $140,000," said Veart.

"What he's come up with is quite a simple solution, really, so if someone wanted to take that on, to put up the money for the project, we could make the disappearing gun disappear again."

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  auckland new zealand travel travelling



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

New chapter for Warwick Chamber of Commerce

NEW TEAM: Incoming vice-president David Martin and president Julia Keogh go through the hand over with outgoing Chamber of Commerce secretary Brian Tombs.

THE Warwick Chamber of Commerce has a new crew at the helm.

Paramedics clear scene of highway truck rollover

ROLLOVER: A semi-trailed rolled into a ditch heading south on the Cunningham Hwy at Cunningham's Gap, Tarome this morning.

Driver uninjured in highway crash

100 jobs by Christmas challenge earns government praise

Employment Minister Grace Grace applauds Warwick businessman's challenge.

State Government praise for Warwick businessman's challenge.

Local Partners

Businesses challenged to find 100 youth jobs by Christmas

IN THIS, the season of giving, a businessman is challenging business leaders to deliver 100 jobs to unemployed young people for Christmas.


Kernaghan's a 'boy from the bush' with a timeless quality

Country music singer Lee Kernaghan.

Lee Kernaghan is celebrating the 25th year of his breakthrough song.

Don't miss the free Bunnings Christmas party

Free Bunnings Christmas Family Night

WARWICK'S Bunnings Warehouse will come alive tonight for Xmas

Rose City unites in festive event

Erin and Keely Hilton.

Local performers entertain at Carols in the Park

Kernaghan's a 'boy from the bush' with a timeless quality

Country music singer Lee Kernaghan.

Lee Kernaghan is celebrating the 25th year of his breakthrough song.

Irina Shayk and Bradley Cooper happy as baby looms

Irina Shayk and Bradley Cooper are in an "extremely happy place"

Walk in artistic expertise

Local artist, Franco Arcidiacono preparing for the Floor Walk.

Journey through exhibition a special opportunity.

Brad Pitt bids to keep custody battle private

Brad Pitt will go to court to keep his custody battle private

Sia has split from her husband

Sia has split from her husband Erik Anders Lang.

Amy Schumer thanks Barbie trolls for hateful comments

Amy Schumer is in the lead role for the new Barbie movie

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

All I want for Xmas is a property bargain

$259,000, 13 Guy Street, Warwick. A block from Warwick's CBD, this graceful character home has three bedrooms and a study.

Ring in Christmas with one of these property bargains under $300,000

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!