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

public garden


40 Gillies Avenue Epsom


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 of 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 a 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 size to two acres (1.116 hectares). Approximately one hour is recommended to explore the house and gardens.


Eco Wed offers small, intimate, and sustainable weddings. All things we love!
Eco Wed provides the complete package – a celebrant (the wonderful Auckland Celebrant Kerry Sorensen-Tyrer ), a photographer (the incredibly talented Lara, from Soul Sisters Photography), the venue, bubbles, and optional extras for two hours. In addition to this Eco Wed weddings are eco-friendly, with zero wedding waste!
Highwic is one of four Auckland venues that have partnered with Eco Wed. Centrally located in Newmarket, Highwic offers an elegant 1880s Drawing Room, Billiard House or award-winning heritage gardens for your ceremony and refreshments. While you’re having photos throughout the house and gardens, your guests will have the opportunity to look through the historic house.
In Kerry’s own words, “Eco Wed weddings are stylish, simple and beautiful, offering a wonderful venue, a talented photographer and a passionate celebrant.”
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  • 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
    There is limited free parking on site for visitors, if you find the carpark is already full we recommend parking next door at Westfield Newmarket, please note your first two hours are free (when using their parking app), after two hours this becomes paid parking. Bus parking for groups is available for drop-off and pick-up at bus stop 8602 on Gillies Avenue, with a small space available on-site for a minibus. There is a designated accessible parking space available. Visitors are welcome to use the driveway to drop off and pick up visitors for easy access.
  • 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, a celebration of life, or a meeting, Highwic is the perfect venue for your upcoming function. Highwic offers many unique and charming spaces such as the 1880s Drawing Room, and 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.


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.