North Head is just a short drive from Devonport. It was a military installation back in the late 1800s designed to protect the British colony against possible invasion by the Russians after the hostilities in Afghanistan. Fortunately, none of the guns or lookout stations were ever used in battle. The whole area is now a reserve and much of it is open to the public. There are some nice hiking trails, and the more adventurous or historically-minded can also explore the tunnels and remaining military emplacements. One of the (now non-functional) big guns is still there for visitors to gawk at, though I didn’t take a picture of it because I much prefer scenery to military hardware.
As with pretty much everything in New Zealand, North Head is an extinct volcano.
With all the tunnels and burrows built into the hills, the area has a weird Hobbitish feel to it, though Tolkien’s Hobbits would turn their noses up at these structures. This seems like the sort of thing Saruman would have built in the Shire after he took over. Luckily the four adventurers returned in time to stop it!
There are also some slightly more Hobbitish looking holes.
The path along North Head is only indifferently marked, which I actually prefer. I would much rather blaze my own trail anyway! There are three major trails around North Head: one which goes to the summit, one which goes through the tunnels, and one which goes down to the shore. I switched between these trails based on which ones looked the most interesting, and I’m pretty sure sometimes I wasn’t on any trail at all.
As mentioned above, there is a quite extensive network of tunnels in North Head. They make for some really neat exploring.
I don’t have a lot of pictures from inside the tunnels because there’s not a lot to see. Fortunately I always carry a flashlight! Not good for those who are claustrophobic.
Not all the cool features of North Head are underground, though. I really like staircases carved into stone leading dizzyingly upward. Not that I’m keen to climb Cirith Ungol anytime soon!
But interesting as North Head is, most of the photos I took were from North Head, not of North Head. The next post will be photos of various things that I took from the hillside. Spoiler alert: I even managed to catch some rainbows!