The Mona Vale Homestead and grounds at 63 Fendalton Road are now a public park in the suburb of Fendalton.
Initially known as Karewa, Mona Vale is sited on land that was originally part of the estate belonging to one of Christchurch’s first European settler families, the Deans.
When Fredrick and Alice Waymouth purchased the property, it consisted of approximately four acres. This was landscaped and developed by Mrs Waymouth, a keen amateur botanist.
In 1905 Annie Quale Townend purchased the property, upon completion of the Homestead she renamed the property Mona Vale after her mother’s birth place in Tasmania Australia. Mrs Townend inherited a considerable sum of money from her father, which she freely lavished on the homestead and its surroundings.
After purchasing additional land, much of the garden was redeveloped. Notable feature additions included the Fendalton Road Gatehouse, Bathhouse, Conservatory and Fernery. The latter was shifted to Mona Vale from the International Exhibition of 1906-07 for which it was originally designed as a display. The estate was sold on Annie Townend’s death in 1914.
Until 1939, Mona Vale had a succession of owners; Tracy Gough then purchased the Homestead. During his occupancy the gardens were extensively planted with Rhododendrons, azalea and many exotic trees. A lily pond was also installed. Great effort was made to retain the Edwardian character of the surroundings.
In 1962, the property was sold to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A chapel was built on the corner of the property bordering Fendalton Road. By the mid-1960s a plans to demolish the Homestead and subdivide the area into building sites was announced.
To save Mona Vale, the Civic Trust in 1967 launched an appeal for funds. The people of Christchurch responded generously, raising $55,000. The Christchurch City Council and the then Riccarton Borough Council provided the balance of the purchase price of $134,000.
The Mona Vale Management Committee, who then set out progressively restoring the remaining buildings, bridges and other structures on the site, developed a restoration programme for the Homestead.
Since its early development, a significant feature of this property has been the plantings of many European trees with associated plantings of Rhododendrons, Camellias, Conifers and Maples. In recent years further additions have been made to these collections, enhancing the variety of seasonal colour.
The Fernery has been revamped with the ferns being grouped into their geological areas. To commemorate Roseworld 1994, a new Rose Garden was developed and the original Bathhouse currently holds a collection of citrus.
Today the Christchurch City Council maintains the grounds of Mona Vale.