House and Grounds

Government House Wellington
 
Government House Wellington seen from the North Lawn.

 

Government House in Wellington is a large, two-storey house, built mostly of wood, with attics, a grand staircase, a ballroom, dozens of other large and small rooms, very long corridors and a flag tower. 

Designed in the office of the Government Architect, John Campbell, the designer of Parliament Buildings, principally by his assistant, Claude Paton, it was built between 1908 and 1910.  The first vice-regal resident was Lord Islington who was Governor from 1910 to 1912.  In late 2008, the House closed for a major strengthening and refurbishment project and was officially reopened on 24 March 2011.

The jarrah weatherboards and architraves on the lower half of the House were originally treated with creosote but all the timber was then painted out in the 1920s. As a part of the Conservation Project, the weatherboards were returned to their original dark colour using a timber stain to create similar contrast as is represented in historic photographs.

Government House Wellington has eight guest suites, a self-contained apartment for the Governor-General and his/her spouse and family, as well as a ballroom, conservatory, sitting rooms, service rooms and kitchens and a wing of offices. The House has a floor area of about 4,200 square metres.

More than 10,000 people visit the House every year, invited to one or more of the many functions held there. These in-House events ranged from investitures and diplomatic receptions, to conferences, concerts, exhibitions and community morning teas. In addition, members of the Royal Family, Heads of State and other distinguished guests often stayed at the House when visiting New Zealand.

As well as the Gatehouse at the main gate, other buildings and facilities include a tennis court and pavilion, a small swimming pool, a World War II-era bomb shelter, a squash court, and garages.

The grounds cover about 12 hectares, some of which is flat lawn or garden, with much of the rest being steep hillside. Exotic species of trees are increasingly being complemented by trees and shrubs native to New Zealand.  The grounds, which are maintained by contract gardeners, were extensively redeveloped and re-landscaped in the late 1990s.

The grounds have many heritage features and several plaques mark trees planted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the late Māori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and former Governors-General and their spouses.  It has also significance as a named Maori site known as Kaipapa and was the former site of the Mt View Lunatic Asylum, and a remnant from that era, known as "Convict's Wall" still exists. 

Next page:Maota Ariki

Tours of Government House Wellington for the public, schools and community groups are being offered, starting in the New Visitor Centre.

Find out more.

Features

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