Explore a unique piece of our heritage at Old St Paul’s

Internationally recognised, this impressive piece of New Zealand history is filled with interesting stories and tranquillity

Old St Pauls cathedral Thorndon 7

Where

Thorndon precinct

Location

34 Mulgrave Street
Thorndon

Old St Paul’s Cathedral is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful heritage buildings. To visit the cathedral is to be transported to a time past, as the dark timber walls, stained glass windows, and original furnishings create a peaceful and historic atmosphere. You’re invited to pass beneath soaring arches, admire the intricate embellishments, discover a multitude of stories, and take a moment’s peace.

The church was built between 1865 and 1866 by the Anglican Church, on what was originally a site of Pipitea Pā, a Māori settlement on Wellington’s waterfront. The building was recognised on an international scale as a unique example of wooden Gothic Revival architecture. It served as the Anglican Church up until 1964 when it was closed and threatened with demolition.

Old St Pauls cathedral Thorndon 5
Old St Pauls cathedral Thorndon 3
Old St Paul's stained glass
Old St Pauls cathedral Thorndon 2

The public petitioned against the destruction and so the building remains to this day, maintained in its original glory. Today the church is considered a sacred place, but as it’s not affiliated with any religion, it is used for a variety of events and welcomes all people.

Over the years, the church has hosted many events, weddings, funerals, and more. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited on their first trip to New Zealand in the 1950s; popular radio personality of the 30s, Gwen Shepherd also known as Aunt Gwen, married Bob Stennett in what some call the first celebrity wedding for the country; and politician Richard Seddon had a carved pulpit dedicated to him when he passed away in 1908.

Fast forward to today and the venue hosts concerts, film evenings, and special celebrations. It is also a popular place for locals and visitors alike - to get to know more of the interesting history or simply soak up the warm and quiet ambiance. Recent structural work means the building is more robust than ever, and now boasts a clever lighting design to highlight the natural beauty.

Old St Paul’s is one of the world’s best examples of timber Gothic Revival architecture

The church is open to the public every day, with entry by donation. You can pick up a brochure guide available in French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese, and explore by yourself, or you can book a tour with a host. Keep your eye out for delicate features and more tucked away treasures, such as the signatures of original builders on a panel in one of the columns, which was discovered in the 1960s. Whether you visit solo, with a group, or book a tour, the heritage team works hard to make Old St Paul’s welcoming for everyone.

Old St Pauls cathedral Thorndon 6

You might like