Thorndon, New Zealand

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For the village in England, see Thorndon, Suffolk.
See also Thorndon Hall
Thorndon is located in New Zealand Wellington
Basic information
Local authority Wellington City
Population 3,840 (2006 [1])
Train station(s) Wellington Railway Station
Ferry terminal(s) Wellington Interislander Terminal, Wellington Bluebridge Terminal
North Wadestown
East Wellington Harbour
South Wellington CBD, Kelburn
Southwest Northland
Northwest Wilton
Parliament's Beehive
and the old wooden administration building
Old Government House Thorndon
circa 1877 on the site of the Beehive
Old Parliament Buildings at the left
on the site of the Parliamentary Library
Thorndon 1866
Thorndon Quay and Mulgrave Street
Pipitea Pā with St Paul's pro-cathedral

Thorndon is a historic inner suburb of Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Comparatively level Thorndon contained hilly Wellington's elite residential area until long after motorised transport became usual but the best of its heart was almost entirely destroyed in the 1960s by a new motorway and the erection of tall office buildings on the sites of its Molesworth Street retail and service businesses.

Thorndon combines upmarket residential accommodation and the home of government, and is located at the northern end of the Central Business District.

Features of Thorndon[edit]

The suburb is dominated by transportation links, government offices, and schools, and is also the location of one of the country's main sports venues, the Westpac Stadium.

Many embassies, high commissions and consulates are located in Thorndon including: the US, Chinese, Cuban, German, Italian, Philippine, Thai and Turkish Embassies; the Australian, British, Canadian, Cook Islands, Fijian, Indian, and Niue High Commissions; and the Norwegian and Swedish Consulates-General. The Chinese Embassy is located at 2-6 Glenmore Street, opposite the Botanical Gardens.

Parliament buildings[edit]

New Zealand's parliament is located in Thorndon, immediately to the north of the centre of Wellington. The Parliament Buildings consist of the Parliamentary Library Building (1899 - Victorian Gothic), Parliament House (1921 - Neo-classical), the executive offices in Basil Spence's modernistic "Beehive", and the nearby office complex of Bowen House.

Thorndon is also the location of many Government departments. Two important Government institutions located there in prominent buildings are the National Library (1987) and Archives New Zealand (1957 - formerly the premises of the Government Printing Office). Both are located near Parliament and have regular exhibitions and hold valuable documents and collections. Archives houses the Treaty of Waitangi.

Transportation hub[edit]

Thorndon is surrounded by major transportation links. To the west, towards the foot of Te Ahumairangi Hill (formerly known as Tinakori Hill) which hangs above Tinakori Road, is the Wellington Urban Motorway, part of State Highway 1, linking Wellington and Auckland, and leading to State Highway 2 connecting with the cities of the Hutt Valley.

To the northeast lies the North Island terminal of the Interislander Cook Strait ferries, an important road-rail link between the two main islands of New Zealand. Services run daily between Wellington and Picton in the Marlborough region of the South Island.

Just inside Thorndon's southern boundary beside Thorndon Quay is Wellington Railway Station, the southern terminus of the North Island Main Trunk railway, and also the base for suburban commuter lines to northern Wellington suburbs, the Kapiti Coast, and the Hutt Valley. Earlier Wellington railway stations have also been located in Thorndon, most notably the southern terminus of New Zealand's most successful privately owned railway, the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company.


Several large schools are located in Thorndon, nondenominational Wellington Girls' College (1883), Roman Catholic St Mary's College (girls', founded in 1850) and Presbyterian Queen Margaret College (girls', 1919). The local state primary schools are Thorndon School previously St Paul's School (1852) and Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral School (1850). Kimi Ora School for special needs pupils was founded in Thorndon in 1951 and was located there until 2011. The Correspondence School is now run from Portland Crescent.


Thorndon is home to two Cathedrals: Anglican St Paul's Cathedral (completed in 1998) built to replace the former pro-cathedral, Old Saint Paul's which is one of New Zealand's most important Neo-Gothic wooden buildings.[2] and Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral, Wellington opened in 1901 to replace the destroyed St Mary's Cathedral dating from 1851. The Chinese Anglican Mission Church is located at 30 Glenmore St opposite the Botanic Gardens.

Historic places[edit]

The business end of Thorndon


Westpac Stadium is one of New Zealand's top sports venues. It is located on former railway land close to the edge of Wellington Harbour. The Thorndon Tennis (and Squash) Club, established in the 19th century, is one of the oldest in the world.

Thorndon events[edit]

The Thorndon Fair is held annually, usually on the first Sunday of December. The fair has many stalls selling crafts and second-hand goods and is held for the benefit of Thorndon School. It has taken place for many years and is one of the main community events held in Thorndon. Parts of Tinakori Road and Hill Street are closed during the fair.

Geographic boundaries[edit]

Port facilities reclamation 1925
Pipitea Point, Thorndon Quay and the Hobson Street houses above it

Thorndon occupies the northern end of the narrow coastal plain that makes up the heart of Wellington. It is flanked by the green hills of Wadestown to the west and the port facilities of Wellington Harbour to the east.

The boundaries of Thorndon form an approximate triangle. Starting from the lower south-west corner, at the intersection of Glenmore St and Collins Tce, the boundary goes up through Tinakori Hill, across through Weld St and along to Baker St. Then the boundary follows the west side of Thorndon Quay down until Hill St, where it goes across to Bowen St, Tinakori Road and Glenmore St (until Collins Tce).


One of the few comparatively flat areas on the harbour Thorndon is a significant part of New Zealand's first organised European settlement at Port Nicholson in 1840. European settlers built their houses alongside the Maori settlement of Pipitea and named their portion after Thorndon the family residence of W H F Petre, a director of their organisation, The New Zealand Company.[3]

Thorndon, where he grew up beside its tennis club, gave its name to the title of Sir Robin Cooke, Lord Cooke of Thorndon, although until his death on 30 August 2006 he lived in Karori.

Notable residents[edit]

Ex officio[edit]

Private citizens[edit]

Residence of the Ambassador of France

Hobson Street

Robert Pharazyn's house
T C Williams's tower in the background

Tinakori Road

W H Levin's house in Tinakori Road
Queen Margaret College 2012
T C Williams's house is said to have had more than 30 rooms

Fitzherbert Terrace

Hill Street

Bowen Street

Murphy Street


  1. ^ when Government House was taken over by Parliament following the destruction of Parliament Buildings by fire, (that building was eventually demolished to erect the Beehive) and a new residence built by the Basin Reserve
  2. ^ both her birthplace and her family's residence after 1898 at 75 Tinakori Road — destroyed for the motorway.
  1. ^ Quickstats about Thorndon-Tinakori Road
  2. ^ "Old St Paul's Cathedral". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  3. ^ E J Wakefield, Adventure in New Zealand, Vol.I, p. 100
  4. ^ Paul Goldsmith and Michael Bassett, The Myers, David Ling Publishing Ltd, Auckland, 2007.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°16′30″S 174°46′40″E / 41.2750°S 174.7779°E / -41.2750; 174.7779