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Highwic Tennis Lawn And Garden
House Exterior
Tulips Sept 2020
Red Flowers Sept 2020

public garden

Highwic

40 Gillies Avenue Epsom

Overview

Built-in 1862 for prominent businessman Alfred Buckland and his family, Highwic is one of New Zealand’s finest examples of Carpenter Gothic architecture. Alfred Buckland and his wife Eliza emigrated from England in 1850 and first settled in South Auckland before moving to Newmarket where they built their family home.

Highwic was home to the Buckland family and their descendants for over 116 years before being sold to Auckland City Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust (now Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga) in 1978. The property was opened to the public in 1981. Highwic is scheduled in the Auckland City Isthmus District Plan as Category A heritage item and is registered as a Category One Historic Place by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

The Gardener

It is unclear who was responsible for the gardens from the 1860s through until the early 1900s. It is most likely that Alfred and Matilda (Alfred’s second wife) oversaw the development of the gardens which were probably tended by a live-in groundskeeper during this time.

Photographs taken in the 1860s show the house surrounded by scrubby vegetation and very few trees. By the 1880s there had been considerable development. Conifers, laurel, lilly-pilly and privet lined the driveway and two large Norfolk Island pines bordered the front façade of the house. In the late 1880s, a tennis court and croquet lawn were installed to the north of the house. By the late 1880s or 1890s a tall and neatly clipped Lawson Cypress hedge was established along the boundaries on Mortimer Pass and Gillies Avenue. From the early 1900s until 1936, Highwic’s gardens were cared for by two of Alfred’s daughters – Phoebe and Maude. They were assisted by a number of gardeners including Mr Speary, who lived in a house attached to the kitchen garden.

Mr Speary began working at Highwic in the 1920s and only retired when the lower paddocks were sold in 1937. Photographs of Mr Speary’s flower garden show considerable sophistication and he was well-known throughout Auckland for his sweet peas.

The Roy family, who lived at Highwic from 1953 until 1978, streamlined the garden to reduce the workload. During their time at Highwic, they employed Mr Ruff as a groundskeeper. When Highwic was sold in 1978, the gardens were looked after by Auckland City Council’s Parks and Reserves Department. By 1981 the council had instituted a grant to cover day to day gardening; however, the council retained responsibility for major maintenance and tree surgery. For over a decade, the garden was managed by the live-in curator who introduced a number of historically unprecedented elements such as a herb garden in the orchard and flower beds alongside the marquee which was erected on the Tennis Lawn in summer. These introduced elements were mostly removed in the 1990s when a contract gardener was employed. Today, the garden is looked after by council contractors, a contract gardener and a dedicated group of volunteers.

Garden Size

Alfred and Eliza Buckland originally purchased five acres and one rood (2 hectares) for their family home in Newmarket. These five acres were divided into two distinct areas by a steep escarpment. The lower flat area to the east was divided into a kitchen garden and larger paddock. The main house, stables, Billiard House, fernery and gardens are situated on top of a low volcanic crag. The lower paddocks were sold in 1937, reducing the site to two acres (1.116 hectares). Approximately one hour is recommended to explore the house and gardens.

Weddings

Highwic offers many different options for wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions or both. Our extensive tennis lawn can accommodate a marquee for up to 200 while our croquet lawn is often used for ceremonies of up to 200 people. Meanwhile, our two indoor spaces, the Ballroom and the Billiard House are suitable for 90 guests standing for a ceremony or 50 seated for your reception.

Other Facilities

Situated adjacent to the main house, the Billiard House was built in 1862 and was originally used as a library and study by Alfred Buckland. Now, it is the picture-perfect meeting space you have been looking for! 

Highwic offers many different options for special occasions. Our vast sweeping tennis lawn can accommodate a marquee for up to 200 while our croquet lawn can be used as space for guests to play lawn games or relax on picnic rugs. 

Highwic has been used as a location for feature film, and TV drama productions screened around the world. Large wood-panelled rooms offer opportunities for a period or character setting or can be dressed for a more contemporary look. The two hectares of grounds have both open spaces, areas of mature trees, garden beds and lawn with plenty of room to move.

Highwic is also available for private photography for weddings or other special occasions.

Info

  • Accommodation
    Out of town guests can find accommodation in a choice of motels an easy walking distance away.
  • Price
    Entry to the garden is free; however for large groups visiting the gardens only a koha is appreciated. Entry to the house is $10 per adult. Free for accompanied children (under 18), Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga members and affiliated organisations. Please understand that surcharges may apply at times of special events. Discounted rate available for pre-booked community groups. Please contact Highwic at highwicfunctions@heritage.org.nz or phone 09 524 5729 to make group bookings.
  • Parking
    Off-street parking is available for visitors to the house. There is no off-street parking for buses/coaches.
  • Wheelchair Access
    The garden is mostly level for wheelchair access. Assistance on some of the paths in the garden may be required. Unfortunately, only the ground level of the main house is wheelchair accessible.
  • Dogs allowed?
    Dogs under control and on a lead are welcome.
  • Food available?
    Morning tea or afternoon tea can be provided for community group visits for an extra charge of $10.00 per person. This includes tea/coffee and a scone/muffin. Please contact Highwic at highwicfunctions@heritage.org.nz or phone 09 524 5729 to arrange morning or afternoon tea for your group.
  • Picnics
    Picnics within the grounds are welcome. We ask that all rubbish is taken away with you.
  • Children allowed?
    Accompanied children (under 18) are free on a self-guided tour of Highwic.
  • Toilets?
    Toilets are available for visitors to the house.
  • Seating
    Some garden seats.
  • Plants/Sales
    Highwic’s shop offers a range of unique and hand-selected gifts.
  • Function Center?
    Highwic provides a spectacular heritage setting for your next event. Whether you are planning a wedding, corporate event, celebration of life, or meeting, Highwic is the perfect venue for your upcoming function. Highwic offers many unique and charming spaces such as the 1880s Drawing Room, the Billiard House as well as award-winning heritage gardens. For more information on holding your next event at Highwic please contact Highwic at highwicfunctions@heritage.org.nz or call 09 524 5729.
  • Guided Tours
    Tours through the house are self-guided; however guided tours are available by prior arrangement and for an additional cost. Please contact Highwic at highwicfunctions@heritage.org.nz or call 09 524 5729 to arrange guided tours.

Map

40 Gillies Avenue Epsom

Highwic is a short walk up Mortimer Pass from bus stops outside the 277 shopping complex in Newmarket and a ten minute walk from the Newmarket train Station. Take a Link Bus from the CBD, or a train from Britomart. Highwic has two entrances - the recommended vehicle entry is from Mortimer Pass which runs one way from Gillies Avenue down to Broadway, Newmarket. The Gillies Avenue entrance is directly opposite the Gillies Avenue motorway off ramp.