Old St Paul's

Be embraced by the beauty of this gorgeous wooden cathedral – still sacred, welcoming to all, and a tranquil sanctuary in the heart of the bustling capital.

Interior of Old St Paul's
Image: Anna Briggsexpand/collapse

One of New Zealand’s greatest heritage places, Old St Paul’s was built by the Anglican Church between 1865 and 1866 on what was originally the site of Pipitea Pā, a Māori settlement on Wellington’s waterfront.

Constructed from fine native timbers, the church is a handsome sight from the outside. Inside, it is simply breathtaking. Soaring arches lend the appearance of an upturned galleon, a shapely form enhanced by transepts and other additions which were seamlessly incorporated as the congregation grew. Spectacular lighting gives the interior a rosy glow, enriching the appearance of brass fittings, stained glass windows and exquisitely embroidered furnishings. It is a glorious riot of colour and light, with splendid acoustics a memorable accompaniment.       

As well as being one of the best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the world, the former cathedral is a repository of many interesting stories, including that of its own survival. Having served the Anglican community up to the 1960s, it was threatened with demolition after the new St Paul’s was built one block away. Saved, restored and reopened to the public, today Old St Paul’s stands not only as a place of spiritual significance and a venue for special events (including weddings and concerts) but also as a reminder of one of New Zealand's great heritage battles.

Visitors are welcome to admire the building on their own (with brochures available in French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese) or to book an introductory talk about the building with one of our visitor hosts.  An interactive exhibition – Read this Building – helps visitors delve deeper into the building’s finer details. There’s a gift shop inside, too.

Within a couple of minutes’ stroll of Parliament Buildings and the National Library gallery, Old St Paul’s is also within easy walking distance of the Lambton Quay shopping district and the capital’s fantastic waterfront. It is also close to Katherine Mansfield House & Garden, a fascinating, colonial heritage site with links to the literary world.

Come and visit!

Find out about our opening hours and much more here.

  • Nave

    Old St Paul’s is one of the world’s best examples of Gothic Revival architecture. Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Good Samaritan window

    The story of the Good Samaritan is just one retold in striking, stained glass. Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Visitors at Old St Paul's

    A guided tour is a great way to learn about the church and its history. Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Apostle on pulpit

    One of the apostles featured on the carved wooden pulpit. Image: Jane Nye

  • Christening font

    The stone baptismal font stands proudly near the rear of the church. Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Old St Paul's, Wellington

    A place of spiritual significance and a venue for cultural events and celebrations. Image: Grant Sheehan