Cornwall Park; Secret Garden bunker or Guantanamo jail cell?

Exterior back Cornwall Park public toilet

Cornwall Park is the closest we Auckland folk can get to a stately home, but without the house bit.

The rolling green hills, the soaring oak trees and secluded paths for hand-holding & chaste courting (what? I’m understated and classy sometimes). Not to mention the kick-ass hidden-bunker-esk toilet.

Exterior front Cornwall Park public toilet

Being surrounded by so much vibrant green foliage (as I said to the friend featured walking out of this shot, “nature and shit”) makes my cynical old heart feel shiny and new. On arrival you pass through a set of opulent stone gates, meander along the tree-lined drive until you swing around a flowering, sunken roundabout and pull up in the auto-mobile resting place. As you round the corner to park up, a pyramid shaped cupola appears in front of you as thought it had grown directly out of the asphalt. Like a half-swallowed monolith, this toilet looks a bit like it’s foundations didn’t quite go to plan so they fanged a bunch of steps around it and claimed it was intentional.

I love the odd turret/secret bunker style of this bathroom but for the life of me I haven’t been able to find any interesting information relating to it’s history on the magical inter-webs. Perhaps it is time to delve into Sir John Logan Campbell’s (the dude who gave this magnificent park to the people of Auckland, swell huh?!) archives at work and see if I can find any reference to it. That would be the correct Librarianly thing to do in this situation.

But, for today I will just look at the loo as it is today, covered in vines and greenery, peaking out from beneath the car park like some kind of semi-excavated archaeological find.

Exterior front 2, Cornwall Park public toilet

"Turret" Cornwall Park public toilet exterior

The vine covered exterior complete with “turrets”, for viewing the park I guess, reminds me of something out of the Secret Garden. This toilet would be right at home inside a walled garden inhabited by a kid in a wheel chair and a bitchy girl who learns to be less bitchy (That was the moral of the story right? OMG. So true, I should write children’s book reviews!)

Exterior of Cornwall Park public toilet, ladies stairs

Exterior of Cornwall Park public toilet, ladies stairs

Exterior of Cornwall Park public toilet, ladies stairs sign

Exterior of Cornwall Park public toilet, ladies stairs, grate

Exterior of Cornwall Park public toilet, ladies stairs, window

Exterior of Cornwall Park public toilet, ladies stairs

Lock, Cornwall Park public toilet

Exterior mens, Cornwall Park public toilet

The women’s loo is on the right and the men’s on the left but they seem pretty much the same from the outside. I am not 100% sure on their similarities obviously, as I didn’t have my handy “Male” costume of fedora and moustache in my car to allow access to the men’s bathroom.

The juxtaposition comes when you cross the threshold and go from Secret Garden to secret torture cell. The inside of this bathroom is bleak to say the least.

Interior seat,Cornwall Park public toilet

Interior stall,Cornwall Park public toilet

The whole prison chic thing is not really my bag, unless it is done with a 19th century aesthetic;  brass and chrome and brick. This has no aesthetic, just a well of sadness.

Interior sinks,Cornwall Park public toilet

Interior sign, Cornwall Park public toilet

I’d like to report that this bathroom interior made me lose hope in the very notion of my existence and stomped on the delicate fabric of my soul.

Interior skylight, Cornwall Park public toilet

The only redeeming feature of the interior was this lovely simplistic skylight which looks to be an original feature of the bathroom. In my learned view these facilities were originally one room as the dividing wall doesn’t work with the window panes. I would love to see an image of the original interior, all porcelain and brass and loveliness.


Cleanliness : 9/10  It was clean but clean like Dexter’s basement, in an eerie post-crime scene kind of way.

Interior : 2/10  The skylight is nice and the wooden bench but the rest is just bleak as fuck.

Exterior : 9/10  Almost perfect exterior. It’s right beside a car park which is handy for emergencies, the park is off a main road so access is good, and the beauty and open spaces of the park it’s self could placate my panic any day of the week.

Safety : 5/10  Yes, I agree that subterranean toilets have issues with visibility making them a spot more rapey/stabby/muggery, but the number of people in the park most of the time makes the safety level reasonable. So, though the interior makes you feel as thought a scary matron is about to come and take you to the lethal injection room, it isn’t really a dangerous toilet in which to loiter while panicking.

Snugglitude : 8/10  This was a difficult one to rate snuggle-wise because the interior is so very dire but the awesome exterior, the accessibility and the overall beauty of the park won me over in the end. If I were panicking I would hope to be near a bathroom like this, which at the end of the day is what this whole rating malarkey is all about.

Total : 33/50

Tree in Cornwall Park


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