Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

03 December 2009

N.Z. House & Cottage 10. The Hunting Lodge, Waimauku

I wrote and illustrated ‘New Zealand House and Cottage’. It was published in 1997. It’s a snapshot of some historic New Zealand homes - both grand and modest - as they were preserved at the end of the 20th century.
I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.


The gentle rolling country to the north-west of Auckland city has a temperate climate and bountiful verdancy. Mild valleys and sunny slopes favour its orchards, forests, market gardens and vineyards which attract to the area city dwellers out for a pleasant, weekend drive or to collect their fruit and vegetables and sample the local wines. In the 1990s it’s little distance beyond the urban sprawl, but one-hundred-and-thirty years ago it was a logical area for establishing a country estate where tired professional or commercial city men and their families might rest and rusticate.

One such family was the Kerr-Taylors, better known for their house, Alberton, at Mt. Albert. Allan Kerr-Taylor prospered handsomely. Among his many investments in mining, banking and other commercial enterprises he bought 6000 acres (2428 ha) of forest at Waimauku for timber milling purposes. Nearby, in 1868, he built ‘Glendale’, a ‘hunting lodge’ in the Waikoukou Valley wherein he and his family no doubt took their ease, and business associates were tactically entertained.

Kerr-Taylor was noted for the ‘at homes’, balls, and elaborate archery parties that were regular features of life at Alberton. He was also on the Provincial Council, chairman of the Mt. Albert Highway Board and President of the Auckland Racing Club. Having lived a full life he dropped dead suddenly in 1890 whereupon it was discovered that his finances were not quite commensurate with his lifestyle.

As a consequence his wife was forced to economise at Mt Albert, while his sons took to the Waimauku slopes. The eldest, Vincent, became the first full-time resident of ‘Glendale’ when he married at the turn of the century. At that time the Bay Room and Drawing Room were added. The house stayed in the Kerr-Taylor family until 1929 when it was sold to the McLennans. During their tenure a bay window and cast gable were added. The house was sold again in 1939.

Since 1980 the house, now called ‘The Hunting Lodge’, has undergone major restoration and although the intention has been to maintain its original atmosphere all that remains of the earlier pit-sawn kauri shingled building are the Bay Room and Drawing Room around the freestanding brick fireplace.

It’s now a restaurant with an enviable reputation, having won numerous awards for its table and ambience, and it has become one of north-west Auckland’s many attractions in company with its neighbouring Matua Valley Vineyard.


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By Don Donovan