Epsom, New Zealand

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Basic information
Local authority Auckland Council
Population 6,324
North Grafton, Newmarket
East Remuera
South One Tree Hill, Greenlane, Greenwoods Corner
West Mount Eden, Mount Albert

Epsom is an exclusive, affluent suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. It is located in the centre of the Auckland isthmus between Mount Eden and One Tree Hill, south of Newmarket, and five km south of the city centre.

Notable features[edit]

Named after the town in England noted for its horse-racing, Epsom also has a race track. The Alexandra Park Raceway lies in the eastern quarter of Epsom where it is located next to the Epsom Showgrounds. The broad, flat pastureland here at the intersection of Greenlane and Manukau Roads was used for sporting events from the 1850s onwards but the two venues were only formally established around 1900. The Alexandra Raceway was named after the then Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra). The Epsom Showgrounds are the location of the annual Auckland Royal Easter Show.

The major road running through Epsom is the Manukau Road. The Manukau Road linked Auckland with the Port of Onehunga and was one of the main routes south out of Auckland in the 19th century (the other being the adjacent Great South Road) The link with the Port of Onehunga meant it became the route for horse buses in the mid 19th century followed by Horse Trams and eventually Electric Trams after 1902. This resulted in a large number of suburban houses and villa residences being built along the route of the Manukau Road.

Several large Country House residences were built in the area during the mid to late 19th century, surrounded by large estates and smaller working farms. As these were progressively subdivided towards the end of the 19th century the landscape changed dramatically leading one major landowner Dr John Logan Campbell to gift a large portion of his estate to the city as Cornwall Park

Epsom is fortunate to be situated between adjacent areas with numerous and large public parks. To the south are Cornwall Park and the One Tree Hill Domain To the west is Mt Eden with the Mount Eden Domain, Meville Park and Windmill Park To the east is the volcanic cone of Mount Saint John. There are several small public reserves located in Epsom itself, the most notable of which is the Marivare Reserve at the intersection of Manukau and Ranfurly Roads - this contains a War Memorial in the form of an arch made of Volcanic rock.

Notable Buildings[edit]

  • St Andrews Church - St Andrews Road - wooden 19th century Anglican church in the Selwyn style. Dr Purchas was vicar here. Once the centre of a rural parish this church is attended by a graveyard of significant age and importance.
  • Dilworth Chapel - Great South Road. Modernist chapel for a prominent Boys school.
  • Rocklands Hall - 187 Gillies Avenue. A grand country residence in the French Second Empire Style designed by Auckland architect John Currie (1849-1919). The home of Thomas Bannatyne Gillies who was a farmer, lawyer, politician, judge and naturalist. He arrived in Dunedin in 1852 and served in the provincial and national parliaments during the 1860s, being elected speaker of the Otago chamber in 1861. He moved to Auckland in 1865 where he recommenced his political career; he served as Superintendent (1869-73) and as a MHR, serving briefly as colonial treasurer in 1872. He also became a Supreme Court Judge. the house was built around 1865-66, with the major addition of a ballroom in 1889. This was once a centre for hunting on Horseback when the surrounding area was largely open farmland and scrub covered countryside. Now a student Hostel for the adjacent Teachers College.
  • Te Unga Waka Marae - corner Clyde Street and Manukau Road.
  • Epsom Public Library - Manukau Road. 1990s building which replaced an earlier building from 1917 built for the Epsom Road Board.
  • Liberal Jewish Synagogue - Manukau Road. Modernist building from the 1950s by John Goldwater. This is one of the two Synagogues in Auckland.
  • Varsanta School - Margot Street. Two storied wooden Victorian House with a turret - used by the Theosophical Society as a school.
  • Marivare - Ranfurly Road. A large 19th century Country House from around 1862 built for Henry Ellis (1828-1879). Ellis was elected to the Provincial Council in 1869. He later worked as an immigration agent and subsequently as the Immigration Officer for Auckland before becoming a Wesleyan minister in mid-life. The residence was purchased by prominent Auckland lawyer and businessman John Russell in the early 1880s and renamed Marivare. Following Russell’s death in 1894, Marivare was purchased by his eldest daughter Ada Carr. Now surrounded by suburban housing - the Carr family donated the last part of the estate to the city as a War Memorial - the Marivare Reserve.
  • Former One Tree Hill Borough Council Building - Manukau Road near Ranfurly Road.
  • Epsom Post Office - Manukau Road. Arts & Crafts building by the office of John Campbell from around the time of the First World War. Brick, stucco and Marsailles Tile building of a type typically created by the Ministry of Works to harmonise with suburban houses.
  • Campbell Memorial Fountain - Located at the Manukau Road entrance to Cornwall Park is a baroque fountain commemorating Sir John Logan Campbell. It is made of a massive pile of basalt rocks surmounted by a red granite pedestal and an over lifesized bronze statue. The sculptor, Henry Alfred Pegram (1862-1937), was based in London and worked from photographs to achieve a likeness. On discovering that the completed statue would be mounted on such a large base he increased the scale of the statue. The statue was finally unveiled on Empire Day, 24 May 1906.
  • Former Tram Company Building - Greenlane. Office block built after the Electric Tram System was created in 1902 - Epsom is halfway between Auckland and Onehunga and so was a convenient place to locate the large Tram Sheds. These Sheds were demolished in the late 1970s and replaced by office buildings. The former Office block survives as a restaurant.
  • Lido Cinema - Manukau Road at Greenlane. Neo-Greek building from the 1920s.
  • Alexandra Park Raceway Gates - Greenlane Road. Brick, stucco and Marsailles Tile Lodges with wrought Iron gates dating from the early 1920s.
  • 1905 Totaliser Building - Alexandra Park Raceway. This is a wooden structure from the early 20th century. One of the oldest surviving items on this site.
  • Our Lady of the Sacred Heart - Banff Avenue. Roman Catholic Church with adjacent school.


From the 1840s until the 1890s Epsom was noted for its rich pasture land which supported both dairy herds and grain crops. Towards Mt Eden is Windmill Road which was the site of the Bycroft Windmill.

Initially large country houses and farms dotted the landscape but from the 1890s onwards suburban development spread southwards from Newmarket across the fields of Epsom. Most of the housing in the area dates from 1900 to 1930, often large houses built solidly of wood, many in the Californian Bungalow or "Stockbroker Tudor" styles.

The area has been long noted for its tree-lined, well-ordered streets, parks and a great variety of architecture, with century-old villas competing with late 20th century modern housing. Following WWII increasing numbers of the larger properties were subivided and smaller houses appeared. Since the early 1990s there has been a considerable amount of "infill" housing with clutches of townhouses altering the streetscapes in some parts of Epsom.


Epsom is noted for several schools including St Peter's College (a successor of Auckland's earliest school), Dilworth School, Diocesan School For Girls, St Cuthbert's College, Epsom Normal Primary School, Auckland Normal Intermediate, Auckland Grammar School and Epsom Girls' Grammar School.

Due to the phenomenon of the "Grammar zone", parents wishing to live in-zone for Auckland Grammar and Epsom Girls' Grammar, housing in Epsom has become desirable and expensive. Houses within the Grammar Zone come with a premium of at least NZ$100,000 compared with an identical house just outside the Grammar Zone.[1]

The University of Auckland Faculty of Education (formerly known as the Auckland College of Education) campus is also situated at this district.


Epsom is also the name of an electorate that includes Epsom, Remuera, Parnell, Broadway Park, and part of Balmoral. Former Auckland Mayor Christine Fletcher, was elected as Member of Parliament for Epsom in 1996. This electorate as of 2005 is the wealthiest in the country, with an average income well above the national average.

The Epsom electorate has historically been a right wing seat and, up until 2005, was considered a 'safe' seat for the National party. In 2005 the electorate took a swing further to the right, electing the ACT candidate Rodney Hide.

The seat is currently held by David Seymour of the ACT Party. The suburb of Epsom comprises roughly 20% of the population of the Epsom electorate. The local councillors for Epsom suburb are split across two council wards, the Eden-Albert Ward represented by a majority of centre-left leaning City Vision (Auckland political ticket) councillors, and Hobson Ward, which is served by centre-right leaning Citizens and Ratepayers Now councillors.

Notable Residents[edit]

  • Dr John Logan Campbell and family lived in a house called 'Farmers Hill' at 107 Wheturangi Road.
  • Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas(1821–1906) Clergyman, surgeon, musician. Lived in St Andrews Road while Vicar of St Andrew's Church.
  • Justice Gillies - Thomas Bannatyne Gillies (1828-1889) Supreme Court judge - lived in a house called 'Rocklands Hall' on Gillies Avenue.
  • Colonel Owens - Lived in a house called 'Brightside'.
  • Josiah Firth - rebuilt his house 'Clifton' as a Concrete Castle.
  • Hellaby Family - Lived in a house called 'Florence Court'.
  • Cleghorn Family - connections of Archibald Scott Cleghorn who married into the Hawaiian Royal family.
  • William Elliot (c.1864-1934) Businessman who donated money to complete the Domain Wintergardens.
  • James Dilworth - He and his wife left their house and property as Dilworth School.
  • Jean Batten - Lived in Bracken Avenue with her mother for a short period.
  • Sir Frank Mappin and Lady Mappin - donated their home 'Birchlands' as Government House, Auckland.
  • Paul Holmes - Lived on Gillies Ave.
  • King of Tonga - The Auckland residence of the Tongan Monarch is called 'Atalanga and at 183 St Andrews Road.


  1. ^ "Suburb Living: Epsom". New Zealand Herald. 2006-09-17. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 

Coordinates: 36°53′21″S 174°45′59″E / 36.8892°S 174.7665°E / -36.8892; 174.7665

Further reading[edit]

  • Graham W. A. Bush (ed), The History of Epsom, Epsom & Eden District Historical Society Inc, Auckland, 2006.