You really can’t visit New Zealand’s Capital City without visiting Parliament Buildings.
Parliament Buildings, located on the corner of Lambton Quay and Molesworth Street, consists of Parliament House, The Beehive, the Parliamentary Library and Bowen House.
The main building is Parliament House, which houses the Debating Chamber, Speaker’s Office, various committee rooms and the Grand Hall.
Construction begun on this Edwardian neo-classical building in 1914, following a fire in 1907 that destroyed the previous wooden buildings.
The Beehive is 72 metres high, with 14 floors (2 of which are underground). Construction was completed between 1969 and 1979. The Cabinet room is located on the top floor, with the Prime Minister’s and staff’s offices on the two floors before. The other floors house other ministers and function rooms. Also the country’s National Crisis Management Centre is located in the basement of the building.
The New Zealand Parliamentary Library, which was built between 1883 and 1899 in Victorian Gothic style, is the oldest building in the Parliament grounds.
Across the road from The Beehive is Bowen House, which holds Members of Parliament’s offices and support staff’s offices. It is connected to Parliament by an underground walkway that runs underneath Bowen Street.
Parliament offer free, daily, one hour guided tours which depart on the hour from the Visitor Centre between 10am and 4pm. The Visitor Centre, which is located in the foyer of the Beehive is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and 9:30am to 5pm, weekends.
You must leave bags, coats, cameras, phones and other electronic devices in the secure storage area in the Visitor Centre, so it pays to arrive before your desired tour time to check in your personal belongings.
Prior to the tour a 12 minute documentary outlining some of Parliament’s highlights is screened.
The tour takes in the Grand Hall, one of the select committee rooms, the debating chamber (if parliament is not in session). Each tour varies depending on the current operations at Parliament. The guides are very knowledgable and enthusiastic about Parliament’s history.
If the House is in session you can watch the politicians go at it from the public galleries. Just talk to guide about watching from the public galleries.