Military mileposts reach a milestone

Read all about it, military mileposts are 150 years old!

In March 1863, a series of mileposts were installed at one mile intervals along a 22 mile stretch between Auckland’s CBD and the British Army Commissariat in Drury, mostly along Great South Road. They were placed to help Army contract drivers record their daily mileage and each triangular, totara post had the mile number chiseled into its two shorter faces. Automobile Association signs were added to many mileposts or their former locations in the 1960s and these have become popular features in their own right.

Ref: 1-W92, Looking East from One Tree iIll with the Great South Road in the centre foreground, 1906, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Over the years, most of the 22 posts have been lost but in 2009 and only eight were believed to have survived. This includes:
  • the 12 milepost outside 500 Great South Road, Papatoetoe
  • the 14 milepost opposite Kerr’s Road, Wiri
  • the 15 milepost outside 88 Great South Road, Manurewa
  • the 16 milepost outside 272 Great South Road, Manurewa
  • the 17 milepost on Great South Road 40m north of Manuia Road, Takanini
  • the 18 milepost on Great South Road 150m north of Walters Road, Papakura
  • the 20 milepost on Great South Road south of Liverpool Street junction, Papakura
  • the 22 milepost outside Drury School.

A few mileposts are scheduled heritage places in the legacy district plans because  they are regionally rare reminders of the New Zealand Wars:
  •  Papakura District Plan - Auckland Council District Plan Operative Papakura Section 1999, Heritage Protection chapter, see p. 10, reference A - milepost in Papakura
  • Manukau District Plan - Auckland Council District Plan Operative Manukau Section 2002, Heritage chapter, see p. 33, references122 and 124 - two mileposts in Papatoetoe and p.34, number 148 - one milepost in Manurewa.

Some original remains are held by historical societies but keep your eyes peeled for these posts or signs, probably on verges and under Auckland Transport’s care.

Ref: 4-8474, Looking SE at the junction of Great South Road and Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Author: Rebecca Harfield, Heritage Assets Advisor, Auckland Council


  1. Unfortunately, some of this information is incorrect. The phrase 'military mileposts' is probably a misnomer, since the mileposts were far more likely erected by the Auckland Provincial Council, which at the time was responsible for the upkeep of the road as far as Drury. The AA first took over care of the surviving mileposts in 1936, and carried out this self-imposed duty until about 1991. None of the local bodies along the route subsequently assumed practical care of the mileposts, and by 2009 (as today) only two original posts survived in situ: the 15-mile post at 88 Great South Road, Manurewa, and the 22-mile post outside Drury School.

    1. Sorry to say that the sign in front of Drury school have disappeared and as a school, we would love to know what happened to it so that we can keep our history alive.

  2. having trouble with my memory bt I was sure that in the 1950s there was a mile stone at the criterion hotel in otahuhu that read 9 miles to auckland 13 miles to drury i used to wait beside it for my dad to come out of the pub at 6pm so i could walk him home and push his bike for him I spent a lot of time reading that thing and is why i am sure it was a medium sized rock not a post

  3. The signboard of the 16 milepost outside 272 Great South Road, Manurewa has been removed. But the post is still here. Future knowledge of this significant milepost will be lost. I hope that the signage can be erected again to show this important milepost.


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