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Art & Heritage

Old bank arcade buildings

  • 1 minute

Wellington, North Island

Elegant cityscape triangle wedged stone buildings are a superb example of the advent of modern commercial enterprise and banking in colonial New Zealand.

Ornate Edwardian Baroque style spherical clock in Old Shopping Bank Arcade, Wellington, New Zealand
Ornate Edwardian Baroque style spherical clock in Old Shopping Bank Arcade

The sharp wedge of four buildings is a distinct landmark on Lambton Quay. The property consists of four buildings built between 1883 and 1904. The most prominent is the former Bank of New Zealand. The interior is a homage to high end shopping with Edwardian glass fronted shops, an elaborate clock suspended over intricately tiled floors and wrought iron and wood balustrades makes shopping a very sensory experience.

The stately commercial buildings are a rare surviving example of Edwardian and Victorian classical architecture. The ornate street facade is a hallmark of this era. Both buildings were part of the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) headquarters for over 70 years.


Built by T Carmichael, it is a brickwork shell with timber flooring, pressed metal ceilings and plaster decoration. The Bank of New Zealand operated a branch on the ground floor of this building from its opening in 1901 until 1984.  The banking hall was described by the New Zealand Mail of 1901 as “a handsome, lofty room, said to be one of the largest of its kind in the colonies”.  This building is classified as a “Category I”.

As part of the massive refurbishment a  $150,000 musical clock was installed as a centrepiece in the refurbished building. Each hour, four petals open to reveal animated scenes relating to the life and times of the former Bank of New Zealand site. The clock was made by Timetech Systems Ltd of Lower Hutt, with robotic work contracted to Miramar-based firm Robotechnology Ltd.

Old Bank Arcade Edwardian interior now an upmarket shopping centre, Wellington, New Zealand
Old Bank Arcade Edwardian interior now an upmarket shopping centre

For more information about buildings and self-guided tours check out Public sculptures Lambton Quay – Best Bits.



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