Old Government Buildings

Located across from Parliament Buildings on Lambton Quay is the Government Buildings Historic Reserve, more commonly known as Old Government Buildings.

Old Government Buildings

Old Government Buildings


Victoria University of Wellington Law School - Government Buildings Historic Reserve

Victoria University of Wellington Law School – Government Buildings Historic Reserve

This four floor, wooden Neo-Renaissance style building was built between 1875 and 1876, and is the largest wooden building in New Zealand. In fact, until 1998, it was the second largest wooden building in the world, behind Tōdai-ji, the Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan.

The building was designed to house the public service sector. Also between 1876 and 1921, it was home to the Government cabinet, which regularly met in the Cabinet Room on the first floor. The Cabinet Room is open to the public to view when not occupied.

The cabinet room

The cabinet room

By 1990, the last of the public service departments had moved out ending 114 years of government service at number 15 Lambton Quay.

The condition of the building had deteriorated by the 1990s and in 1994 the Department of Conservation began a 2 year restoration project. In 1996, following the restoration, Victoria University of Wellington’s Law School moved in.

Today visitors may visit the grounds, marvel at the rich golden-honey kauri clad interiors, stunning staircases, and cast iron fireplaces, and explore the historical displays on the ground floor, and the Cabinet room on the first floor.

The building is open 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Private areas leased to the University are marked with no public access signage.

The kauri clad interiors and staircases

The kauri clad interiors and staircases


A historical display depicting an 1880s Government Buildings messenger returning ledgers to the Vault

A display depicts an 1880s Government Buildings messenger returning ledgers to the Vault