Clyde Quay Boat Harbour Heritage Area

  • Clyde Quay Boat Harbour was formed in 1901-04 after land was reclaimed at the intersection of Clyde Quay and Oriental Parade. It originally consisted of a mini-harbour, with sea walls on three sides and partly flanking breakwaters to protect the moorings. Over time, sets of boatsheds (1905 and 1922) and a collection of other buildings, clubrooms and larger sheds were built. The biggest single intervention tool place during World War II when it was placed at the disposal of American marines and a hospital (now the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club clubrooms) and other structures were erected. The harbour has primarily been the home of the RPNYC and other clubs and private boat owners who have leased the sheds for well over a century.

    Located on Wellington’s inner harbour beneath the hills of Mount Victoria and under the watchful gaze of St Gerard’s Monastery, the boat harbour is constrained between the Freyberg Pool to the east and the modern Clyde Quay Wharf apartments to the west. It is made up of a varied collection of structures and objects, including the distinctive arrays of small boatsheds on its landward side.


  • close Physical Description
    • Setting close


      The setting of the Clyde Quay Boat Harbour is one of dramatic quality, established in one of the iconic landscapes of Wellington. The Boat Harbour is flanked by the modernist glass wall of the Freyberg Pool flanks to the east; the open waters of Wellington Harbour are to the north; the modern Clyde Quay Apartments (sitting on the remnants of the old Clyde Quay Wharf) and Clyde Quay – and the edge of Waitangi Park – to the west, and Oriental Parade and the steep hillside of Mt Victoria, covered in buildings, including St Gerard’s Monastery, frames the harbour to the south. The boat harbour forms a focal point in this pivotal urban/harbour edge location. 

    • Streetscape or Landscape close

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    • Buildings close

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    • Structures and Features close
      Clyde Quay Boat Harbour is a complex place, made up of a panoply of structures (breakwaters, seawalls and retaining walls); buildings (boatsheds and club houses), and objects (such as slipway, decking and bollards). Perhaps the most distinctive architectural features of the complex are the groups of concrete boatsheds, neatly arrayed with gabled roofs and wide doors facing the harbour, and painted in bright colours.
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  • close Historic Context
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  • close Cultural Value
    • Significance Summary close

      Not assessed

    • Aesthetic Valueclose
      The aesthetic value of the Clyde Quay Boat Harbour is very high. The form of the boat harbour is strongly and clearly defined by the seawall at the landward side and the overlapping breakwaters at the harbour side. The land edge is articulated by the simple repetitive forms of the boatsheds, offset by the hard standing at the waters’ edge. While modest in themselves, the buildings (and particularly the boatsheds) gain immensely from their relationship with each other; the aesthetic value of the group of buildings, structures and objects greatly exceeds the sum of its parts. The Clyde Quay Boat Harbour forms a crucial part of one of the most distinctive of all Wellington views – that of the houses of Mt Victoria and St Gerard’s Monastery as seen from much of the inner harbour, from Queen’s Wharf around to Te Papa and Herd Street. This is one of the iconic views of the capital city. It brings a maritime architecture into close proximity with inner-city housing, a juxtaposition that occurs in few other New Zealand cities. The boat sheds and other buildings make a strong contribution to the townscape value of the area, a quality enhanced by their brightly painted timber and concrete finishes. The Clyde Quay Boat Harbour is made up of a tightly interrelated group of buildings, structures, and objects, which together form a coherent place.
    • Historic Valueclose
      The Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club is one of the city’s oldest sporting clubs and it has had a considerable influence on the history of sailing on Wellington Harbour. It is arguably the city’s most historically important sailing club. The boat harbour was also linked – for a brief but very important period – with American marines, who took over the harbour during World War II and left their mark on the infrastructure, including the adaptation and construction of several buildings. The Clyde Quay Boat Harbour primarily associated with the sport of sailing. Its history of development from raw harbour edge to a complex matrix of breakwaters, seawalls, buildings and structures was principally to accommodate recreational sailing. As a harbour city, founded here principally because of the natural attributes of the harbour, Wellington has a long history of recreational boating. The boat harbour encapsulates better than any other place the importance and popularity of sailing to Wellingtonians. The place, including some of the surviving buildings, has an association with the American Marines stationed at the harbour during World War II, a brief but important time in the history of the country. Very many events of local importance, including visits and regattas, have taken place here.
    • Scientific Valueclose
      There is technical value in the structures of the boat harbour, in particular in the breakwaters which were technically advanced for their time and have survived in reasonably sound form. The seawalls too have value for their mass-concrete construction. The 1905 boatsheds are interesting for their all-concrete construction. These buildings, now well over 100 years old, have survived the maritime environment particularly well. The remaining structures that date from the American period have the potential to provide important information about the construction of wartime buildings.
    • Social Valueclose
      The place enjoys a very high level of public esteem, partly for its profile in a much visited part of the city and partly for its role in the sport of sailing. It retains a high level of amenity value, both for its use and for its role in defining the identity of the city. The boat harbour is, together with its Oriental Bay setting, a considerable focus of the city’s identity, a place recognised for its recreational importance and scenic qualities. The social history of Clyde Quay Boat Harbour is inextricably linked to the sport of sailing, having been the home of one of Wellington’s most historic sporting clubs, the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, since it was founded in 1883. Many well-known Wellingtonians are associated with the Club, and the board that hangs in the foyer with the names of Commodores and Life Members includes those of many well-known people associated with commerce, the arts and sport in the city. Several other clubs have amalgamated over time with the RPNYC. Many Wellingtonians have sailed from the boat harbour, been members of clubs based there, have leased and used the boatsheds, and enjoyed the nautical setting of the place. Although sailing is a relatively expensive sport, Clyde Quay Boat Harbour has long been regarded as a place where even those with relatively modest means could keep and sail a boat. Clyde Quay is at the heart of recreational sailing in Wellington, which is in turn one of the city’s oldest and most cherished pastimes. Apart from being the home of the Port Nicholson Yacht Club, the area has served generations of the boat owners, through the sheds and moorings.
    • Level Of Cultural Heritage Significanceclose
      Clyde Quay’s mooring facilities are the oldest in Wellington Harbour and are without parallel in the city as a coherent landscape of this type. This gives it significant rarity value. The area retains significant structures and objects from the time of its initial construction, plus additions that add greatly to its history and understanding of its use over time.
    • New Zealand Heritage Listclose
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  • close New Zealand Heritage List
  • close Additional Information

Last updated: 1/9/2020 7:59:31 PM