This walk is a short hop up the Tinakori Road, a little way from my home. The route and the text are largely (and shamelessly) taken from the Wellington City Council publication Explore Wellington – From the Botanic Garden to Tinakori Road, but I’ve added some things that interest me and left out others that aren’t visible from the street. Some of these places are attractions in their own right, so I’ve included links where they have write-ups elsewhere… including the Wellington Botanic Garden.
And because a friend queried this, I’ve added the Rateable Values (RVs) for some of these houses. The RVs are truly eye-watering, especially considering few of these places are really in good order and some are really pretty tumbledown despite their cute good looks.
Lady Mackenzie Garden for the Blind
It’s very pleasant, but I can’t fathom the logic of putting a Garden for the Blind right next to a motorway, in Wellington – where surely the noise will distract and the wind will blow away any scents – but there we go. On a sunny day when it’s not too wild, and the garden-keepers have been in to tidy it all up, it’s really very pleasant.
The plaque at the entrance to the park notes that Lady Mackenzie’s quiet understanding, sincere friendship and life of service were of great value to her husband in his demanding role. I bet they were. And who was he? Sir John Mackenzie, Minister of Lands and Agriculture.
Katherine Mansfield Birthplace, 25 Tinakori Road
The birthplace of New Zealand’s most famous writer, Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp (1888-1923). The Beauchamp family lived in the house from the year of her birth until 1893. The house has been restored by a society established to protect the building. The garden reflects the period 1880 to 1900. From 1921 to 1924, the house was also the home of Dr Frederick Truby King, the founder of the Plunket Society, a welfare organisation for mothers and babies. The house is now open to the public.
100 Hobson Street (RV $2,820,000)
This house was built by Walter Nathan in 1883. Nathan later became a partner of Harold Beauchamp, Katherine Mansfield’s father, in his general merchant’s firm. The Nathan family features in Mansfield’s story Prelude.
Tombs House, 22 Burnell Avenue (RV $1,400,000)
A house by the famous New Zealand architect Chapman Taylor who excelled in an Arts and Crafts style. Built in brick in 1910 for the Tombs family, of publishers Whitcombe and Tombs, later Whitcoulls. As well as the overal architecture it’s noted for the hand-wrought gutter brackets and door furniture, leadlight windows and the Marseilles tile roof.
18 Burnell Avenue (RV $1,600,000)
Not on the official tour, but a nice neat little cottage.
Pendennis, 15 Burnell Avenue (not photographed)
This house was designed by Francis Petre and built about 1875 for William Levin, the son of William Hort Levin – whose name was given to the town of Levin. ‘Willie’ Levin was a successful merchant. Born a Jew, he switched to Anglicanism and became a prominent member of the Old St Paul’s vestry. The magnificent clerestory windows at the top of the house once provided a view of the harbour. The avenue was named for Annie Burnell Beauchamp, mother of Katherine Mansfield.
60 Tinakori Road (not photographed)
This house was designed by leading architect William Turnbull in 1910.
50 Tinakori Road (not photographed)
Built in 1896 for Thomas Ronayne, the first general manager of New Zealand Railways. It was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere, who was well known for his designs of churches – including St Mary of the Angels in Boulcott Street.
Aorangi Terrace, Poplar Grove, Calgarry Avenue and Torless Terrace are four small lanes off Tinakori Road where the cottages, dating from the 1890s, are evocative of the era in which they were built. Number 5 Torless Terrace is thought to date back to the 1850s.
Slightly more interesting (since everything round here looks like little wooden cottages) is the fact that many of these cottages boarded up their front doors and made their main entrances on their garden sides, to avoid having to pay for connection to mains services like sewage. (Presumably they didn’t get the services, either.)
Nowadays – in my opinion – these lanes look a frightful mess and could do with a good clearout!
The Shamrock, 230 Tinakori Road (not photographed, because the front is usually in shadow)
A rare surviving Victorian pub, built in 1893, it was moved in two parts from its original site at the corner of Hawkestone and Molesworth Streets in 1981. Now an antique store and Indian restaurant.
That said, there are plenty of Victorian pubs – the Thistle, the Shamrock, etc – and this is one of the most dismal you could imagine!
Premier House, Tinakori Road (not photographed, because other than trees there’s nothing to see these days)
The Prime Minister’s official residence since 1865.
A small cottage, built in 1843, originally stood on the site. Later the house was extended and sold to the Crown in 1865. Premier Julius Vogel made substantial additions thought to have been designed by his father-in-law William Clayton.
In 1935 Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage refused to live in such a grand house and it was converted into a dental clinic. The house was fully restored in 1990 to mark the first 150 years of New Zealand’s nationhood.
The extensive gardens are the last two adjoining town acres in Wellington – a reminder of the size of some of the estates that once existed in the area.
251 Tinakori Road (RV $700,000)
One of the oldest buildings in Wellington – this is a small worker’s cottage built in the 1860s.
37 Glenbervie Terrace (RV 780,000)
Just a pretty little cottage. (Though I expect, like everywhere else here, it’s cold in winter.)
The Moorings, 31 Glenbervie Terrace (RV $2,200,000)
Built in 1905 and designed and occupied by architect JS Swan, a yachtsman who often sailed with Alexander Turnbull. The house has a nautical flavour both inside and out. The Glenbervie was a New Zealand Company ship that brought some of the first European settlers to Wellington.
The Wedge, 20 Glenbervie Terrace (RV $900,000)
Designed and built in 1906 by architect James Bennie as speculative housing and well known for its three-sided section.
It’s actually in rather good order, compared with everything else up on Glenbervie Street. Someone has obviously decided to love this house for its quirkiness and to celebrate it.
Shepherds Arms, 285 Tinakori Road (not photographed)
The original Shepherds Arms was built on this site in 1870 and parts of the original pub are incorporated in the present building.
Granny Cooper’s Cottage, 30 Ascot Street (RV $740,000)
This cottage was built in 1862 and named after the mistress of an early school based in the house from 1867 to 1888. It even had a playground. Wellington City Council created the Thorndon heritage zone after a fight in 1972 to save the cottage.
304–314 Tinakori Road (not photographed due to shadow)
Six tall and slender timber houses built in 1903 in the style of San Francisco houses of that period. The corrugated iron on their sides was intended to stop the spread of fire.
The Anchorage, 31 Patanga Crescent (not visible from the street)
Built in the 1890s for Alfred Boardman, the manager of South British Insurance. The house was named The Anchorage by the Holm family, whose patriarch, Ferdinand Holm, established the Holm Shipping Line. The Holms lived here from 1879 until 1979.
Fernbank Studio, 194a Sydney Street West (not visible from the street)
This cottage was built in 1877 and was the home of one of New Zealand’s finest artists, Rita Angus, from 1955 until her death in 1970. The magnolia tree in the garden often appeared in her paintings. The house is now used by artists in residence and was restored by the Thorndon Trust.