17 - Wakapuaka Cemetery Walk

This walk takes you round the historic and tranquil Wakapuaka Cemetery where many of Nelson's notable citizens are buried.


Time: 1 - 11/2 hours

Area: Atawhai

Start Location: The memorial Mariano Gargiulo gates on Atawhai Drive. The cemetery is also accessible from Atawhai Drive north of the Miyazu Japanese Gardens.

Download the Wakapuaka Cemetery Walk map (170KB PDF)

Route directions

Walk up the hill between the silver birches and rhododendrons - on your right is the memorial lawn. At the top beside the crematorium and chapel is a small gate to the Jewish section where the headstones are inscribed in Hebrew. Walk back down to the chapel and up the hill and over the cattle stop. On the left is a Wesleyan block and on the right the old Catholic block. Rosaline Frank (1864-1954), a noted photographer is buried here. There is also the Chapel of St Michael - known as Father Garin's Chapel after Nelson's first parish priest, Antoine Marie Garin (1810-89).

Follow the road to the top of the slope where the Presbyterian section has some typically ornate Victorian headstones. From there take the road left and walk past the general block, with the Wesleyan block on the left.

James Smith Cross (1817-82), Nelson's first Harbour Master is buried here. Enjoy the view of the city. Back at the junction on the right is the Anglican block which has the graves of well known water-colour artist John Gully (1819-88), and explorer and prospector George Fairweather Moonlight (1832-84). Leave the road a little way along and walk up the hill on the right. At the top is the obelisk memorial to the Maungatapu murder victims.

Either retrace your steps, or take the road beside the memorial and follow it round the back of the cemetery. Further down the hill, walk through the tall oaks and back up, noting canning industrialist Samuel Kirkpatrick's (c 1854-1925) grave on the right. Follow the road past the grave of Edith Bunker (1916-96) on the right. Edith Bunker left a sizeable donation to the local branch of the Salvation Army that helped fund their new premises.

Veer to the left and take in the view of the Boulder Bank. On your right is the RSA section, then the Catholic section and a general section on the left. The old Presbyterian block is in front of you at the sharp right hand corner. Follow the road back down the hill and out the gates.

Thanks to the Nelson Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists for developing this walk.