Freyberg Pool

139 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay, WELLINGTON

Quick links:

Projecting from Oriental Parade into Wellington Harbour, Freyberg Pool is one of the capital’s landmark buildings. This modernist public swimming pool designed by Jason Smith was completed in 1963, and is a memorial to prominent New Zealander, Cyril Bernard Freyberg (1889-1963). This striking reinforced concrete swimming pool building is a fine example of New Zealand modernist architecture, with its asymmetrical butterfly roof, curtain glass walls, and clean lines. The outstanding architectural qualities of Freyberg Pool have been recognised by national experts such as the New Zealand Institute of Architects and DOCOMOMO New Zealand. The pool also has considerable social significance as a venue where generations of people have learnt to swim, and taken part in competitive or recreational aquatic activities. Swimming skills have long been recognised as important in New Zealand, and correspondingly the history of swimming pools in Wellington and the Clyde Quay area dates from the 1860s. However, like other main centres around New Zealand, it was not until the early 1960s that the Wellington City Council was finally able to act on the considerable pressure from the swimming public for an indoor pool. Long-standing Wellington architectural firm King and Dawson designed the building in 1961, and a partner in the practice, Jason Smith, took the lead on the project. Lemmon and Slack Construction Limited began creating Freyberg Pool by demolishing Te Aro Baths, a public swimming pool built on the site in 1900, and reclaiming land. As the pool was nearing completion in 1963 the former national swimming champion and war hero, Lord Freyberg, died. Freyberg had also been the first New Zealand-raised governor general, spending his youth in Wellington and developing his swimming talent at Te Aro Baths. This direct connection to the Freyberg Pool’s site made it an especially appropriate choice of memorial to Freyberg, and contributes to the special significance of this place. Today Freyberg Pool continues to be a valued community asset with consistently high visitation.

Freyberg Pool | Karen Astwood | 01/03/2012 | Heritage New Zealand
Freyberg Pool. Seen from Oriential Parade | Karen Astwood | 01/03/2012 | Heritage New Zealand
Freyberg Pool. Interior of Freyberg public swimming pool, Oriental Bay, Wellington. Winder, Duncan, 1919-1970 :Architectural photographs. Ref: DW-1017-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. | Duncan Winder | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

12th December 2014

Date of Effect

1st January 2015

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 34 and part of Sec 32 Blk VII Port Nicholson SD (RT WN27D/765), and part of the land described as Section 1 SO 24076 (RT WNC1/1427), Pt Reserve L Town of Wellington, Legal Road, Wellington Land District, and the building known as Freyberg Pool thereon, as well as a curtilage around the building which recognises the viewshafts that contribute to the building's landmark status on the Wellington waterfront. The extent does not include the west adjoining boatshed building in land parcel Section 1 SO 24076 (RT WNC1/1427). (Refer to maps in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

Legal description

Sec 34, Sec 32 Blk VII Port Nicholson SD (RT WN27D/765); Sec 1 SO 24076 (RT WNC1/1427); Pt Reserve L Town of Wellington; Legal Road, Wellington Land District

Location Description

Freyberg Pool is located on the harbour side of Oriental Parade, north of Herd Street. Freyberg Pool defines the northern end of the Clyde Quay Boat Harbour.

Stay up to date with Heritage this month