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Kiwi Towns

What’s so great about Pukekohe: what to do and best things to see

  • 4 minutes

Auckland, North Island

Vegetables, the landscape is dominated by massive commercial growers however that’s only one side of the story of Pukekohe

Pukekohe there are plenty of things to do. Pukekohe is not just an enormous vegetable patch rather it’s a microcosm of New Zealand’s past with a significant battle site for the nineteenth century Land Wars, the story of the growth of commercial rural agribusiness and magnificent natural reserves and parks in its back yard.

There are activities to amuse visitors from being scared deliberately at Spookers Scream or spending time on a nostalgic steam train at Glenbrook.

Pukekohe is worth a detour from State Highway one or a day trip from Auckland for visitors wishing to experience authentic New Zealand life outside the main centres.

For other trips and holiday inspiration check out Auckland Road Trips.

Pukekohe landscape, North Island, New Zealand
Pukekohe landscape, North Island, NZ

What to do in Pukekohe, highlights

  • Awhitu Peninsula and Manukau Heads Lighthouse. The Awhitu Peninsula is well worth a visit for its beautiful scenery and dramatic views.
  • Glenbrook Vintage Railway
  • Golf courses
  • Spookers scream park
  • New Zealand Warbirds Visitor Centre for aviation buffs

The thriving country town supports urban style cafes and restaurants with an extensive range of fresh produce at the Saturday morning market. The golf courses are considered outstanding attracting visitors year round. For vintage rail fans check Glenbrook railway for their weekend steam train journeys. Walkers and nature lovers will not be disappointed in Awhitu Peninsula, Manukau Heads Lighthouse where the wild west coast beaches routinely put on spectacular displays of surging waves pounding the iron sands.

What to do with kids in Pukekohe

  • Spookers Scream House
  • Glenbrook Railway
  • Samuel miller reserve, a great playground and the location for local events

Festivals in Pukekohe

  • Motorsport annual V8 International Supercar event
  • Equestrian events
  • Christmas parade featuring, wait for it… Vegetable decorative floats supporting Father Xmas.
Classic Ford pickup truck bonnet, market gardeners work horse Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand
Classic Ford pickup truck bonnet, market gardeners work horse Pukekohe, Auckland, NZ
  • Franklin Historical Society facebook page notes, “Did you know 13 of the 1534 residents of Pukekohe died in the 1918 influenz epidemic. That is over half the total number of people who died of Covid19 in 2020. (2020 covid19 deaths recorded was 25). Nearby Huntly has 26 people in the 1918 epidemic of 1533)”.
  • Waikato, the scene for the nineteenth century NZ Land Wars echoed in a tiny church. Pukekohe’s heritage East Presbyterian church was a witness to the Waikato War. A battalion of Maori warriors attacked a semi-completed stockade resulting in loss of life for both sides of the conflict. The Māori warriors hid the bodies of their slain in the hollows and branches of large trees around the church. A mounted boulder now marks their resting place in the cemetery. The church still bears bullet holes from the battle.


@Glenbrook Vintage Railway
@Glenbrook Vintage Railway

Where to take the best selfie in Pukekohe

  • Awhitu Peninsula and Manukau Heads Lighthouse (sunset is always a winner)
  • Glenbrook Vintage Trains, all that puffing steam creates a great image
  • Spookers Scream House
  • Possum Bourke statue for dedicated motorsport followers

Social media in Pukekohe

Pukekohe Business Association

Pukekohe motto

“City smart, country heart” sums up Pukekohe’s charm in a nutshell

Festivals in Pukekohe

  • Annual V8 International Supercar event
  • Saturday morning market

Who turned up and named Pukekohe

  • Pukekohe’s name originates from Puke: hill; kohe: native tree. Many of these trees grew in the district.

Pukekohe has got the best position for the triangle of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga to explore Pukekohe as it’s less than 40 minutes from Auckland, about 1 hour from Auckland and less than 2 hours from Tauranga.

Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand @friendsofpukekoherailstationbuilding
Pukekohe @friendsofpukekoherailstationbuilding

Pukekohe fame

  • Pukekohe long keep onion born and raised in Puke along with its relatives, garden fresh vegetables
  • Possum Bourne, rally car driver (home town lad) has a life size bronze statue in Pukekohe. Died 2003 from injuries in a car crash on Snow Farm access road, Cardrona.

Pukekohe notoriety

  • The success of pioneering Chinese and Indian growers in the 1920s made Pukekohe the home of the reactionary White New Zealand League (1926) yet counterbalancing white supremacy was the birth of the Pukekohe Indian Association.
  • Racism, 1963 market gardener, Rai Wai Ching threw his hat into contesting a parliamentary seat to illustrate prejudice. Mr Ching spoke about not being served a drink in the local bar and threats to his life if he complained. Attitudes to seasonal workers including Maori and Indian were also questioned.

Population in Pukekohe

26,500 (2020)

What keeps Pukekohe ticking?

Vegetables, market gardens and proximity to major markets. The fertile, free draining volcanic soil from Pukehohe–Bombay south to Pukekawa produces one-third of New Zealand’s fresh vegetables. The northern slopes of Pukekohe Hill have a well deserved reputation for potatoes.

Weather in Pukekohe

Pukekohe Weather Forecast and Observations

Judgment on Pukekohe

  • What more could Aucklanders and the Waikato be wanting, an interesting country town with an urban vibe and glorious regional parks on its doorstep. Overseas visitors wanting a taste of the commercial heart of rural NZ do not need to look very far, city smart, country heart Pukekohe is well worth a day trip from Auckland.

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Auckland & Auckland Region nearby attractions and events.

Travel pack information

  • “The former Pukekohe East Presbyterian Church stands on Runciman Road, 5 km north-west of the town of Pukekohe and about 50 km south of central Auckland. This distinctive boulder memorial stands in the cemetery beside the church. Dedicated to the Māori who were killed in action here on 14 September 1863, it marks the place where about six of them are buried.
  • In 1863, Pukekohe East was an isolated farming community on the fringes of Pākehā settlement south of Auckland. After the outbreak of the Waikato War on 12 July, the district’s men were formed into a company of Forest Rifle Volunteers and issued with arms. Twenty men – ten military settlers and nine special constables under the command of Sergeant Perry – garrisoned Pukekohe East Church.” source Pukekohe East NZ Wars memorial



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