Rural Whitford has seen many changes since the first European settlers arrived in 1843 but it still retains a rustic charm. This is horse country with a very active pony club, stables and stud farms gracing the landscape.
The village is a service centre for the surrounding farms and life-style properties. It includes an excellent cafe, restaurant and bar, and gift/antique shops.
The Whitford Country Club is a picturesque 18 hole golf course where visitors are very welcome. The Whitford Bird Garden is a must to visit, as is one of New Zealand's best known private gardens, Ayrlies. Available forprivate functions, weddings etc, ist he spectacular Japanese themed Zen Gardens.
The site is windy and comprises coastal clay. The garden started in 1964, when the foresight of Bev McConnell saw past the bare land. The garden is now 12 acres of rolling terrain, some steep and with steps.
It is characterised by sweeping lawns, informal but detailed plantings, and by ponds and waterways. A strong but sensitive use of colour is a hallmark of Ayrlies seen best in the Lurid Border where hot colours are used to great effect and in other areas where old roses, clematis and perennials are combined in romantic profusion.
Address :125 Potts Road, Whitford
Further information: Ayrlies Website
In pre-European times, Maori used the waterways in the area as transportation routes to access various settlements and resources. Behind the township, the wharf on Turanga Creek, was once a bustling hive of activity. A regular passenger boat service and mail delivery from Auckland operated from 1848 to 1927 until better roads put an end to this more leisurely mode of transport and commerce. The present day pony club was once the site of Grangers Brickworks.
Opposite the hall, on the corner of Wharf and Whitford Roads, is the village's former general store built in 1910. Since ceasing business as a store in 1965, the building has, at various times, been a private residence, an art and craft shop, saddlery and, since 1986, a licensed restaurant.