Wellington skyline gets a facelift as BNZ’s new building in the central city officially opens

Te Whanganui ā Tara (Wellington’s) skyline is evolving as Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) 15-storey new home in the central city – BNZ Place – today officially opened its doors to colleagues and customers.

Under construction since 2020, the architecturally designed building, occupies a full city block on the corner of Whitmore Street and Customhouse Quay, and was officially opened by Finance Minister Nicola Willis at a special event this morning.

CEO Dan Huggins says the striking new building reflects BNZ’s longstanding commitment to the capital city.

“BNZ has been proudly serving Wellington’s communities for 160 years, and BNZ Place not only reflects our commitment to the city but also our vision for the future. We’re thrilled that we are able to share this vibrant and innovative space with our customers, colleagues, and the people of Wellington.”

Designed to be modern and resilient, the building’s unique shape and structural design was informed by extensive research, including wind tunnel testing and seismic hazard assessments. The new headquarters represents a fresh start after the former BNZ building on Waterloo Quay was demolished in 2019, one of several buildings deemed irreparable after the Kaikōura earthquake in 2016.

BNZ Place offers a branch and customer service centre for retail and business banking and a public café on the ground floor. As New Zealand’s largest business bank, BNZ’s Partner Centre offers BNZ business customers state-of-the-art meeting rooms and office space with views of Wellington’s harbour which can be booked and utilised at no cost.

Newcrest Director Lincoln Fraser says, “We are proud to welcome BNZ’s customers and colleagues into their new Wellington home at the completion of what has been an exciting and highly collaborative project. The Newcrest and BNZ project teams have worked closely together to deliver a landmark building with market leading resilience and energy efficiency.”

BNZ Place at 1 Whitmore Street combines sustainability and innovation, aiming for a 5-star green rating with features like high-performance solar control glass and energy-efficient systems, supported by base isolation and a structural steel diagrid. Efficient floorplates, a double-height high entry lobby, inter-floor stairs, a rooftop courtyard, and panoramic views contribute to the state-of-the-art facility.

The design, development and internal fitout of the building also provided an opportunity for BNZ to support its business customers, with Studio Pacific Architecture, Vidak, Alaska Construction, Europlan, and Egmont Dixon all contributing to the build. In addition, the bank collaborated with another BNZ customer, Maxwell Rodgers, using their sustainably sourced wool fabrics to re-upholster and up-cycle furniture from the bank’s previous office, reducing waste to landfill.

“BNZ Place firmly cements our commitment to the capital, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to our new home,” Mr Huggins says.

Tracing BNZ’s roots in Wellington

BNZ’s history in Wellington began in 1862 with temporary offices on Willis Street. Over the years, BNZ has been a pioneer in architectural innovation, from the first drive-in bank in New Zealand to the construction of the Aon Centre in Wellington in the 1980s, the tallest building in New Zealand at the time of construction.

The bank’s architectural legacy includes the innovative use of reclaimed land for its early headquarters, the 1901 building designed by Thomas Turnbull, the purpose-built BNZ Centre in 1985, and the transition to a 5-star green building on the Wellington waterfront.

A brief history

In 1862, BNZ purchased a triangular section on reclaimed land with a frontage along Lambton and Customhouse Quay. The architect was William Mason of Dunedin. The location of the entrance door was later moved due to Wellington’s high winds.

Wellington 1863 building. Cnr Lambton and Customhouse Quay.
Wellington 1863 building. Cnr Lambton and Customhouse Quay. Photograph taken 1878 and shows the relocation of the main doorway.
Wellington premises built in 1901 (before removal of parapet) c.1920
Wellington Branch premises 1901 (after parapet removed) photo taken 1978.


In 1899, the earlier bank and adjoining Brandon Building were demolished to be replaced with a larger building following the subsequent purchasing of an additional 4 sections of land.

Since 1901, three other buildings on the block bounded by Lambton and Customhouse Quays and Hunter Street were purchased and occupied by various departments of BNZ’s Headquarters.


In 1985, the purpose built BNZ Centre was opened across the road. An underground tunnel linked the Old Bank and the New ‘Black Tower’. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building in NZ (replaced by the BNZ Tower when that opened in Auckland in 1986). It remained the tallest building in Wellington until the opening of the Majestic Centre in 1991.

BNZ Centre, Wellington 1984


In 2009 BNZ moved out of the BNZ Centre and leased a purpose-built office building located on the Wellington waterfront, referred to as ‘Harbour Quays’. Owned by Centre Port, this building was a 5-star green building, later achieving 6 start for the interior fitout. Following the November 2016 earthquake, the building remained empty with BNZ staff re-located into temporary office sites around the Wellington CBD. The building has since been demolished.





BNZ colleagues from The Terrace, Spark Central and Ricoh House are now reunited at BNZ Place, Wellington. A branch, community centre and collaborative workplace will co-exist in the same building in the heart of Wellington’s CBD. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​