Heritage

Wellington began on the shores of Hutt Valley, home to New Zealand's first European settlement. Discover more New Zealand firsts and days gone by in historic Petone.

 

New Zealand firsts

As the place of large early Maori settlements and the first place of organised European settlement in New Zealand, Petone is full of firsts for the country.

 

First organised settlers

Britannia was the first suburb in New Zealand after the ships from the New Zealand Company in London arrived on the shore of Petone in 1839. The Petone Settlers Museum was built in 1940 to celebrate 100 years of their arrival and tells the story of the growth of Petone from settlement through to its hey day as a major New Zealand industrial centre. 

 

First lighthouse 

Built in 1859 and home to our only female lighthouse keeper and her five children during the 1860s. Cycle or walk out to two lighthouses (second built in 1906) on the spectacular and rugged Pencarrow Coast and explore lakes, wetlands and a shipwreck a little further on. Keep the coastal adventure alive and stay the night at Pencarrow Lodgeor Orongorongo Station.

 

First North Island Rugby match 

Was played at the Petone Rugby Club - a club regularly churning out champion All Blacks. Visit their museum atop their clubrooms for stories of the club which has produced the second greatest number of All Blacks. You'll see many of these names along the Walk of Champions in historic Jackson Street.

 

First concrete dam

Pack a picnic, take a stroll or cycle up Korokoro Valley following the old pipeline upstream to the dam, a lovely spot for a picnic. The dam was the first gravity fed concrete dam in New Zealand, built to supply water for the Petone Borough in 1903. You'll quickly feel like you're in another world amongst mature native bush full of birds while only minutes from the city.

 

First garden city 

The Riddiford Gardens in central Lower Hutt sprawl around the War Memorial Library and the city council buildings -the first and only planned and designed civic centre in the country after the "Town Planning Act" of 1926. Take a picnic, find a nook to relax in and then say hi to the colourful birds.

 

First newspaper

New Zealand’s first newspaper, The New Zealand Gazette, was published in Petone on 18 April 1840, published on arrival of the frist settlers in Petone. 

 

First bank 

This one is for the treasure hunters. The site of the first bank was in Petone still remains a mystery today - it was opened in 1840 as part of the first settlement by the New Zealand company. You could say Britannia was home to many other New Zealand firsts as the settlers grew - too many to list!