Bank of New Zealand Building (No 3)

98-102 Customhouse Quay, Wellington

  • Bank of New Zealand Building (No 3), Wellington. CC Licence 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Matt Dillon. Taken By: Matt Dillon. Date: 26/10/2010.
  • Bank of New Zealand Building (No 3), Wellington. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy. Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 2/05/2014.
  • Bank of New Zealand Building (No 3). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons . Taken By: Michal Klajban. Date: 24/11/2014.
  • Bank of New Zealand Building (No 3), Wellington.
    Copyright: Vivienne Morrell. Taken By: Vivienne Morrell. Date: 12/06/2015.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 213 Date Entered 7th April 1983


City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 1 and 2, DP 85253


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The Bank of New Zealand building at 98-102 Customhouse Quay occupies part of the first major reclamation of the Harbour, that of 7 acres carried out by the Wellington Provincial Government. It was built for the National Mutual Life Association to the design of Thomas Turnbull and was completed in 1884. It was purchased by the Bank of New Zealand in 1963.

The building represents a remarkable display of confidence by the National Mutual Life Association. It is an early masonry building for Wellington, being built at a time when timber construction (long employed for its earthquake resistant qualities) was only just beginning to lose prominence.

It is also a very imposing classical design of three stories, separated by ornate cornices. The ground floor is heavily rusticated with round headed windows; the first floor has alternating triangular and segmented window pediments and the second floor has narrow round headed windows. Both facades are richly embellished with urns, lions and gorgons heads, festoons of fruits, decorated corbels, capitals and friezes. The interior contains a fine staircase of cast iron and timber construction.

The building is important in the townscape, having a coherent scale and character with both its neighbours. It is a beautifully crafted building of imposing Classical design, now very rare in Wellington.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Turnbull, Thomas

Thomas Turnbull (1824-1907) was born and educated in Scotland and trained under David Bryce, Her Majesty's Architect. He travelled to Melbourne in 1851 and after nine years there moved to San Francisco. He arrived in New Zealand in 1871 and soon established a thriving business. His son William, a distinguished architect in his own right, became a partner in the firm in 1891.

Turnbull was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was a pioneer in the design of buildings to withstand earthquakes and he was responsible for breaking down prejudice against the use of permanent materials for building construction. He specialised in masonry construction for commercial purposes but was also responsible for some fine houses.

Among his most important buildings were the Willis Street churches of St Peter (1879) and St John (1885), the former National Mutual Building (1883-84), the General Assembly Library (1899) and the former Bank of New Zealand Head Office (1901), all in Wellington.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1884 -

Other Information

NZHPT Heritage Order (23 September 1986)

Note: the other two buildings in the BNZ 'complex' are not included in the Protection Order i.e. Bank of New Zealand Building (No.4), 29 Hunter Street, Wellington NZHPT Record No. 1337 & Bank of New Zealand Building (No.2), 233-237 Lambton Quay, WellingtonNZHPT Record No.1336.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.