Mona Vale, Christchurch

Mona Vale, with its homestead formerly known as Karewa, is a public park of 4 ha in the Christchurch suburb of Fendalton. The homestead and gate house are both listed as heritage buildings with Heritage New Zealand (NZHPT). The fernery and the rose garden, and pavilion with the setting of the park along the Avon River, add to the attractiveness of the property. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Christchurch.

Mona Vale
B&w photo of a waterway in a park setting
The Avon River at Mona Vale
TypePublic park
Coordinates43°31′23.89″S 172°36′30.67″E / 43.5233028°S 172.6085194°E / -43.5233028; 172.6085194Coordinates: 43°31′23.89″S 172°36′30.67″E / 43.5233028°S 172.6085194°E / -43.5233028; 172.6085194
Area4 ha
Created1899 (1899)
Operated byChristchurch City Council
StatusOpen all year
Official nameMona Vale
Reference no.283
Official nameMona Vale Gatehouse
Reference no.1799


The Mona Vale homestead with earthquake damage from the February 2011 event

The western boundary of Mona Vale is the Main North Railway, and the Avon River forms the eastern border. In the north, the park is very narrow and starts at Fendalton Road. In the south, it extends to Matai Street East and has Christchurch Girls High School as a neighbour.[1]

The gardens cover four hectare.[2]


The gazebo at Mona Vale, conserved and restored by Stewart Stained Glass

The land initially belonged to the Deans brothers, whose homestead is Riccarton House in Riccarton.[3] William Derisley Wood leased the land and built what became known as Wood's Mill.[4] The weir in the Avon River was built in the 19th century and forms the Mona Vale mill pond, which still exists today.[5]

Frederick Waymouth and his wife Alice[6] purchased four acres of land[7] and had a homestead built in 1899–1900, designed by architect Joseph Maddison.[2] Waymouth, who called the homestead Karewa, was the Managing Director of Canterbury Frozen Meats. Maddison was a well-known Christchurch architect, who amongst other buildings designed the freezing works in the Christchurch suburb of Belfast. It is thought that this connection between Waymouth and Maddison led to this commission.[2]

The Mona Vale gate house in 2007

Waymouth sold the property to Annie Quayle Townend[6] in 1905, who renamed it to Mona Vale after her mother's house in Tasmania. She was the daughter of a wealthy Canterbury run-holder, George Moore of Glenmark Station. She was his only surviving daughter and he had bequeathed her one million pounds, apparently making her New Zealand's richest woman at the time.[6][8] Townend added nine acres of land to the property[7] and had a gate house built just off Fendalton Road. After the New Zealand International Exhibition, held in Hagley Park, finished in 1907, she purchased the exhibitions fernery including its plants and had it reassembled at Mona Vale.[2] The present collection of ferns were supplied by Landcare Research in Lincoln, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the private collection of the late Arthur Ericson.[9] Townend also added the bathhouse to the property.[6] She died in 1914.[2]

In 1939 it was bought by Tracy Gough, and in 1941 by the firm, Gough, Gough and Hamer. Tracy Gough added to the beauty of the gardens by having a lily pond built and having rhododendrons and azaleas and many more exotic trees planted in the gardens.[3]

The property was sold in 1962 to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the death of Gough, Gough and Hamer founder Tracy Gough. When the church wanted to sell Mona Vale to a New Zealand company intending to subdivide the property and to demolish the homestead, a public outcry resulted in community fund-raising.[2] The Christchurch City Council and the Riccarton Borough Council bought Mona Vale in June 1969 for the purpose of turning it into a public park.[10] The purchase of Mona Vale is credited to Christchurch mayor Ron Guthrey.[11]

Until the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, the homestead was operated as a restaurant, café and function centre, often used for weddings.[2][12] The building closed due to earthquake damage.[13] It was officially reopened by Christchurch City Councillor James Gough, great grandson of the former owner Tracy Thomas Gough, on 28 November 2016 following a two-year, $3.2 million repair and restoration.[14][15] The Christchurch Civic Trust awarded a heritage renovation award in 2017 for the earthquake repair works.[16]

Heritage listingsEdit

The homestead was registered as a Category 1 heritage building by the NZHPT on 7 April 1983 with registration number 283.[2] The gate house off Fendalton Road has its own heritage listing, and it was registered by NZHPT as Category II on 23 June 1983 with registration number 1799.[17]


  1. ^ "About". Christchurch Girls' High School. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mona Vale". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b Dorothy (23 May 1998). "Mona Vale". NZine. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  4. ^ "William Derisley Wood". The Press. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Dam built for the Riccarton Mill, forming the Mona Vale mill pond". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Gate House - MONA VALE". Older & Bolder. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Unsung Heroines - Annie Quayle Townend". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  8. ^ Gardner, W. J. "Moore, George Henry - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Mona Vale fernery". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  10. ^ "1969". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Albert Ronald Guthrey 1916 - 2008". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Mona Vale". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Historic Mona Vale reopens". The Press. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Mona Vale Homestead Opens Its Doors". Scoop - Christchurch City Council Media Release. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  16. ^ McDonald, Liz (30 September 2017). "Trust awards recognise city rebuild projects". The Press. p. A15. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Mona Vale gate house". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2 July 2011.

External linksEdit