Bucket Fountain

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The Bucket Fountain in Wellington's Cuba Mall

The Bucket Fountain is an iconic kinetic sculpture in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. It is located in Cuba Mall, which is part of Cuba Street.[1] It consists of a series of "buckets" that fill with water until they tip, spilling their load into the buckets and pool below. The fountain was designed by Graham Allardice of Burren and Keen and erected in 1969.[2][3]

It is very similar to a fountain erected in Liverpool in 1967 designed by Richard Huws.

Much of the water does not reach the buckets below, but instead splashes onto pedestrians and onlookers. On windy days (common in Wellington) water is carried several metres from the fountain.[4]

People often add dishwashing detergent to the water, which spreads bubbles all over the mall. This is common on Friday and Saturday nights.[5]

Wellington City Council upgraded the fountain in 2003, and some buckets were turned around so they intentionally tip their water onto the pavement.[6]


Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films, climbed on and drunkenly urinated in the fountain while in New Zealand filming the movies. This was confirmed by the actor during an interview with Jay Leno.[7]

In March 2006, the fountain was coated in a mud-like substance by New Zealand artist John Radford.[8]

In January 2014 the bucket fountain was victim of a simulated oil spill with the water turned black. The protest was "to illustrate the threat which deep sea drilling poses to Wellington coasts, local businesses, the environment and the people."[9]

In February 2016, one of the larger yellow buckets located near the bottom of the fountain was stolen in the night.[10] After a plea by the Wellington City Council to have the bucket returned, the missing bucket was left in the pool at the base of the fountain. The returned bucket was found to have been painted with an intricate and psychedelic pattern.[11] On 17 March, the bucket was reinstalled on the fountain. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, when approached on the issue, said "I'm unequivocally blissful they brought it back unscathed and apparently enhanced, from what I’ve seen. We consider it an utterly appealing small paint job."[12]

In October 2021 one of the larger buckets was reported stolen from the fountain.[13] It was retrieved in December 2021 after a member of the public spotted a picture of the bucket on social media and reported it to the Wellington City Council. The thief had painted the bucket gold and drawn a dragon on it. By the time the bucket was found the Council was in the process of creating a replacement bucket which would cost $2000.[14]

The fountain coated in mud-like substance, March 2006
The lower yellow bucket with upgraded paint job, February 2016.


  1. ^ "Wellington City Council Art and Architecture – Bucket Fountain". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  2. ^ "Unofficial Bucket Fountain website". Archived from the original on 21 May 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  3. ^ Nicol-Williams, Kate (13 October 2019). "Wellington's bucket fountain celebrates half a century of splashing pedestrians". 1 News. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  4. ^ "Unofficial Bucket Fountain Website – How it works, before and after". Archived from the original on 25 May 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  5. ^ Wellington Sights: A Travel Guide to the Top Attractions in Wellington, New Zealand — Google Books
  6. ^ Wellington City Council Annual Report 2003/04: Key Achievement Areas – Built Environment[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Elijah Wood on Jay Leno Transcript: The OneRing.net
  8. ^ "Wellington City Council Public Art – Temporary Art Projects". Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  9. ^ Penman, Carla. "Oil spill in Wellington Bucket Fountain". Newstalk ZB. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016.
  10. ^ "The ultimate bucket list theft". Stuff. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  11. ^ "The bucket is back". Stuff. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Wellington's mayor a fan of new bucket artwork". www.sketchtv.com. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  13. ^ Boyack, Nicholas (21 October 2021). "'Bring back the bucket'- Wellington's Cuba Mall fountain is missing a bucket – again!". Stuff. Archived from the original on 21 October 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  14. ^ Green, Kate (21 December 2021). "Yellow bucket from Cuba St fountain found in what Wellington council calls 'Christmas miracle'". Stuff. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2021.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°17′32″S 174°46′35″E / 41.292258°S 174.776293°E / -41.292258; 174.776293