Just across the road from where we were staying at the Pullman Auckland is Albert Park.
The park was designed in the 1880’s of the back of a competition to design the park and some of the original trees still stand. The statue of Queen Victoria (one of 3 in the park) dates back to the 1890’s.
I always forget that there are tunnels under Albert Park until I visit and see those doors again and then I become intrigued all over again. Someone who hasn’t forgotten is Bill Reid who has been campaigning to have the tunnels opened (most specifically tunnel 5) for 30 years. You can watch a little documentary about him and the tunnels here.
The tunnels were build in 1942 as an air raid shelter for up to 22,000 Aucklandes during WW2 ( you imagine 22,000 people under Albert Park). However by the end of the war the timber supports were starting to deteriorate so they were filled in with 8.8 million clay bricks and the entrances sealed in 1946.
A lot of history is closed up in there – the 3.5km network was built by 114 men using no machinery – a pretty amazing feat. Walking around above these tunnels you have a sense that Albert Park is so much more than just a park.
There are so many contrasts within Albert Park.
There’s the park benches filled with people reading and trees filled with kids climbing in stark contrast to the corporate environment and towering buildings all around them.
There is an old abandoned building that we peeked in all the windows of. Completely bare inside but in the doorway sleeping bags and people sleeping rough. That’s a contrast I’m not too happy about so spare a thought for those without a house when reading this post.
So much history in one little park.