PHOTO: A gun pit at Stony Batter. Source: Tim Moon/rnz.co.nz
The historic World War II tunnels at the Stony Batter Historic Reserve on Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf have reopened for tours.
Fort Stony Batter Heritage Park project director and Waiheke resident Timothy Moon joined RNZ’s Summer Times to give an insight into this important part of New Zealand’s history.
Stony Batter was the largest of three gun fortresses built in New Zealand following the 1941 attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour. The other two in Whangaparaoa and Wellington.
“It’s a true fortress, absolutely massive, four times larger than Sky Tower,” Moon says.
The fortress is located on the east of Waiheke island in farmland amid a volcanic boulder field.
Stony Batter has 1.2 kilometres of tunnels and has eight large chambers dug deep underground. There are three surface gun pits which were designed in such a way that when the fortress was in operation all gun turrets could be accessed without ever surfacing.
“They are truly vast, it’s a massive structure and they were dug by hand with pick axes and shovels and the material was transported out on light gauge tracks and it was completed in two and half years.”
The tunnels were reinforced with 60cms of concrete so it could withstand a direct hit
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