Ferry Building

99 Quay Street, Auckland

  • Ferry Building, Auckland. July 2015. Image courtesy of www.jonynz.com.
    Copyright: Jonty Crane . Taken By: Jonty Crane .
  • Ferry Building, Auckland. July 2015. Image courtesy of www.jonynz.com.
    Copyright: Jonty Crane . Taken By: Jonty Crane .
  • Ferry Building, Auckland. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Steve Parker. Taken By: Steve Parker – Spark-Photo. Date: 25/07/2013.
  • Ferry Building, Auckland. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Beth Wilson. Taken By: Beth Wilson. Date: 8/04/2018.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 102 Date Entered 25th November 1982 Date of Effect 25th November 1982


City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

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


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. 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.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Wiseman, Alexander

Alexander Wiseman (1865-1915) - Articled to Edward Bartley 1881-85. Began practising as an architect in 1904. The Auckland Ferry building (classified 'B') is his best known work and shows he was an architect of considerable ability.

Philcox & Sons

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications. The building lies on reclaimed land in Commercial Bay.

Construction Dates

1879 - 1885
Reclamation of land

Original Construction
1909 - 1912
Construction of Ferry Building, including piling

1927 -
Ground floor offices converted to a shop

1986 - 1988
Major alterations, with addition of fifth storey

Completion Date

21st August 2001

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Johnson, 1988

David Johnson, The Auckland Ferry Building, Auckland, 1988

Other Information

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.