A peaceful town with history and character
Helensville is 40km north of Auckland, on the Kaipara River, near where it empties into the immense Kaipara Harbour. To local Maori, Ngati Whatua Nga Rima o Kaipara, the Helensville district was originally known as Te Awaroa – ‘The Valley of the Long River’. Pioneer timber miller John McLeod and wife Helen, who travelled to New Zealand from Nova Scotia, built a single-storey kauri home in 1862 overlooking the mill established by John and his brother Isaac. This home was called Helen’s Villa – a name adopted by the town. Until the turn of the century, countless kauri logs were milled and shipped from the town’s busy wharf. The town continued to thrive with the rise of dairy farming prior to World War One and the visitor potential of the natural hot springs at Parakai, 5km northwest of Helensville. The Kaipara Dairy Company, established in 1911, soon became the largest employer until it closed in the mid-80s. The Parakai thermal springs still attract thousands of visitors and the area is boosted by wine production in nearby Kumeu – 20km south. Helensville features scores of old buildings, especially kauri cottages and villas. The pioneer museum, courthouse war memorial hall and historic railway station provide a fascinating window on the town’s past. The town’s population in 2006 was 2532.