Wellington's hidden art trail revealed

16:00, Oct 10 2012
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Bowen House: Artifacts dedicated to the early use of the site, including a wine cask from Baron von Alzdorf, the original hotel owner
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Vodafone: Nga Korerorero – Ongoing Talk by Silvia Salgado
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Majestic Towers: Revolving globes, world within a world
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New Public Trust Building: Painting by Michelle Bellamy, Colours of Fun
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Petherick Towers: Statue of Bianca set in high-tension insulator artwork by Bruce Winter
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Legal House: Painting by George Morant, Horsebreaker in Murder Red Country
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Dominion Building: Arc de Triomphe foyer by Gabriel Heimler and Anna Proc
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Te Puni Kokiri House: Street sculpture Ruaumoko by Ralph Hotere and Mark McFarlane
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The Museum Art Hotel: Per Capita by Cathryn Monro

Some of Wellington's commercial buildings hold secret art even the most curious of locals may not know about.

Surgical instruments used on Wellington patients in the early 1900s, a 24-metre high mural and remains of a Maori pa are all part of the Secret Art Walk, a new self-guided walking tour around the CBD.

The tour was launched by Property Council Wellington branch vice-president Brent Slater last month, and is intended to build on the profile of Wellington as a tourism destination. 

The walker can stop in on 30 exhibits of hidden treasures in Wellington’s office stock and outdoor business spaces along the way. 

Going to take the walk? Need a map on the go?

You can access our hidden art map by pointing your device's web browser to tinyurl.com/secretartwalk.


The walk winds its way from Lambton Quay towards Courtenay Place. 

Mr Slater said it was hoped visitors might stay in town an extra day to take in a new perspective of the creative capital.

The planned starting point, the satirical politically-themed Backbencher Pub, is closed until February after two fires this year, so in the meantime walkers begin by exploring the Reserve Bank. 

Famous New Zealand artists line the walls there. Guy Ngan’s untitled sculpture, five interlocking bronze parts forming a taiaha (a traditional weapon), is mounted on an exterior wall. 

Inside, artwork by Pita Rua Lagan, Roy Cowan and Simon McIntyre is featured. Walkers can also drop in on the bank’s museum to see what $500 000 of shredded notes looks like.

The next stop is the Supreme Court. 

The bronze facade of the court symbolises the protection the justice system provides to New Zealanders. 

It is inspired by pohutakawa and rata trees, with recycled red cast glass inserts representing the flowers. Inside, the ovoid shape courtroom is clad with 2293 diamond-shaped panels of Southland silver beech, the panelling representing a kauri cone. 

Continuing along Lambton Quay, the walker can enter Legal House to see George Morant’s Horsebreaker in Murder Red Country, the New Public Trust Building for Colours of Fun by Tokoroa artist Michelle Bellamy and pop into Trelise Cooper, where the whole store is a work of art.

Across the road, on the corner of Stout St and Lambton Quay by Te Puni Kokiri House, is a unique and iconic Wellington art piece – Ruaumoko by Ralph Hotere and Mark McFarlane. 

One of Ruaumoko’s broken columns sinks into the footpath; another is topped with a jumbled mass of bronze lettering. 

Just along the road in Midland Park is Vodafone’s outdoor sculpture, Nga Korerorero - Ongoing Talk by Colombian artist Silvia Salgado. 

Next, the walker can check into City Chambers in Featherston St to see the strikingly large and vivid mural Music has Charms by Piera McArthur.

Further on, the walker will see the seven-storey Dominion Building, with a facade of stone imported from France, and interiors of Queensland maple. Inside, an impressive Arc de Triomphe by Gabriel Heimler and Anna Proc surrounds the lifts and staircase.

The two revolving globes or world within a world is worth checking out at the Majestic Tower. At the General Practitioner pub along the road, old surgical instruments are displayed in a building that was built in 1902 and was once a surgery. 

Strolling towards Courtenay Place, the walker will pass Lukes Lane. It has recently been revitalised with a 24m high sea-themed mural by a street art collective called Pie Rats and artists from Wellington’s Boys’ and Girls’ Institute.

In Taranaki St lies the remains of Te Aro Pa, a Maori village excavated in 2005 during construction of the building. It is the only 1840s Maori site found in the city and contains preserved foundations of two ponga buildings.

The Museum Art Hotel is a perfect finale to a walk that takes generally about four hours. 

The boutique hotel has 66 original artworks, mainly from local artists, which can be enjoyed by wandering around with a cocktail.

One limitation of the walk is that most premises are open only during the business week – but then again that’s also the uniqueness of the walk, it’s dedicated to business buildings.  

Pamphlets with the suggested route and map can be downloaded from propertynz.co.nz


1. Backbencher Pub

2. The Reserve Bank

3. Bowen House

4. The Supreme Court of New Zealand

5. Legal House

6. New Public Trust Building

7. Trelise Cooper

8. Te Puni Kokiri House

9. Petherick Towers

10. Vodafone Midland Park

11. City Chambers

12. New Zealand Portrait Gallery

13. New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts

14. The Museum of Wellington City & Sea

15. Tower Building

16. 1 Grey St

17. Harcourts Building

18. HSBC Tower

19. Old Bank shopping arcade

20. Telecom Central

21. Simpl House

22. Dominion Building

23. Majestic Tower

24. The General Practitioner pub

25. Sovereign House

26. iCentre

27. Lukes Lane

28. Te Aro Pa 

29. St James Theatre

30. Museum Art Hotel

30. Museum Art Hotel

The Wellingtonian