Ferry Building

99 Quay Street, AUCKLAND


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The Ferry Building is one of the most imposing port buildings in New Zealand, and testimony to the importance of water transport in early twentieth-century Auckland. Erected by the Auckland Harbour Board in 1909-1912, this ornate structure was intended to be a focus for the extensive ferry network entering and leaving the city. It was also intended to raise a regular income for the harbour board, as it was designed entirely for lease. Its construction was part of a costly reorganisation of the docks, which included the building of the ferro-cement Queen's Wharf. These works were undertaken by the city in a bid to retain its position as a leading Southern Hemisphere port. Designed to reflect the aspirations of the project, the imposing facades of the four-storey building were modelled in the Imperial Baroque style. Its prominent central tower was a focus of harbour life having a time ball, later replaced with a clock and siren, to regulate activity on the wharves. The building initially housed the headquarters of the two main ferry operators in the harbour - the Devonport Steam Ferry Company and Takapuna Tramways Ferry Company. Later tenants included trade unions and consulate offices. The construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the 1950s dealt a major blow to maritime activity on the wharves, after which the building deteriorated. It was refurbished in 1986-1988, when its interior was gutted, strengthened and converted to office and retail use. The Ferry Building is significant as a striking and monumental piece of architecture, whose scale reflects the importance of civic authorities in the early years of the Dominion (1907-1947). It is a powerful reminder of the importance of ferry transport in the early twentieth century, and the role played by the wharves in the social and commercial life of the city, particularly until the 1960s. As a busy, bustling place with high pedestrian traffic, the building formed a meeting point for people from all walks of life - including as a rendezvous and cruising ground for gay men and sex workers from when it opened. It is of value as tangible evidence of the dock improvements undertaken in the early 1900s, and as one of the earliest office buildings in Auckland built entirely for lease. It is also significant for having been a familiar landmark for nearly 100 years, instilling a sense of place and identity in the everyday lives of Aucklanders travelling in and out of the city over several generations. The Ferry Building's valuable visual contribution to the city's waterfront is enhanced by its proximity to other historic structures, including those in the surrounding Harbour Historic Area and nearby Quay Street Historic Area.

Ferry Building, Auckland. July 2015. Image courtesy of www.jonynz.com | Jonty Crane | Jonty Crane
Ferry Building, Auckland. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Steve Parker – Spark-Photo | 25/07/2013 | Steve Parker
Ferry Building, Auckland. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | Beth Wilson | 08/04/2018 | Beth Wilson
Ferry Building, Auckland. Building detail. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | 32 Blocks | 07/04/2012 | 32 Blocks



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

11th November 1982

Date of Effect

11th November 1982

City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 109673 (RT NA61C/1059), North Auckland Land District

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