The mix of modern and old buildings along Lambton Quay, including the old supreme court, and old bank.

New Zealand’s parliamentary complex and various judicial buildings sit at Lambton Quay’s northern end. It then snakes its way south running roughly parallel to the waterfront.

The street’s unusual contour follows the line of the original foreshore from 1840 when Europeans created a settlement. This is why it’s referred to as a ‘Quay’. The water’s edge is now 250 metres to the east of Lambton Quay.

Land uplift caused by an earthquake in 1855 and considerable land reclamation has created a large tract of land where many high-rise buildings now sit.  This is where many corporate offices, government departments, and shops congregate creating a bustling business district.

Thousands of businesspeople pour into the city every weekday populating the streets. A popular congregation point for lunch is Midland Park, which has plenty of seating. On one corner sits the ‘Woman of Words’ statue of Katherine Mansfield and in the middle of the park is Sivia Saldago’s water sculpture.

Considering its long history as a premier, shopping, government, and business precinct, it is home to many old buildings. There is a huge range of architectural eras represented from the old Supreme Court Building (1880) to the Prudential Assurance Building (1934), and beyond to the modernist Massey House (1957).

A secondary business street, The Terrace, runs behind Lambton Quay to the west. As it is on a plateau, the office towers on The Terrace create another line of buildings behind Lambton Quay. This creates a dense multilayered view of buildings. There are many viewshafts of geometric shapes, colours, and building textures.

Location details

Jurisdiction Wellington City Council
Permits required Yes, apply for a permit
Location descriptors Alleys, city, downtown, cityscapes, roads, shops, stores, high rise, urban, buildings, streets, civic buildings, shopping precincts, business districts, historical architecture, pedestrian-friendly areas.