Places of interest on our campus


ClockTower building

22 Princes Street
Formerly known as the Old Arts building, the ClockTower was designed by R.A. Lippincott, a Chicago-trained architect and brother-in-law of Walter Burley Griffin, designer of Canberra.

The 54-metre tower, faced with Mt Somers stone, was inspired by the famous Tom Tower of Christ Church, Oxford; and has come to symbolise the University. The octagonal interior is vaulted and galleried with a mosaic floor and piers.

For many years the building housed all Arts departments, Architecture, Law, Music and the Library as well as the University Hall. The rear wing provided extremely limited student amenities until the Student Union Building was opened in 1968.

Between 1985 and 1988, the main wing was totally renovated, strengthened and cleaned, regaining the whiteness which originally suggested the popular name of "the wedding cake". This major reconstruction work merited an award from the Institute of Architects.

The building now houses Student Administration, the Vice-Chancellor's Office and the Council Room.


Alfred Nathan House

24 Princes Street
Known to staff and students as the Registry, Alfred Nathan House was erected in 1882 as a private home for the Nathan family. They occupied the house until the 1930s when it was converted into a private hospital.

The University took over the building in 1959, and it is currently occupied by AskAuckland, the Schools Partnership Office, the International Office, and Communications and Marketing.

A fourth floor has been added, and the rear has been extended to provide meeting rooms and extra offices. Some of the original sandblasted glazing, moulded ceilings and carved mantlepieces still grace the interior.

Victorian merchant houses

Princes Street
Five of the Victorian merchant houses of Princes Street survive as a reminder of its days as the city's most fashionable promenade. None are now occupied by the University but proximity preserves the past connection with Pembridge in particular. Pembridge, directly opposite the Old Arts Building, once accommodated Economics, Law and finally Music. It has been refurbished for use as exhibition and conference rooms as well as offices. Another house at 23-25 Princes Street, with an elegant wooden frontage, was built in 1882. Formally the University Club, it is now occupied by a language school.

University House

Corner of Princes Street and Bowen Avenue
The former Jewish Synagogue, built in 1885, gained a new lease of life first as a bank, and as the new home of the University's Advancement Office. Its Romanesque and Eastern decorative motifs, ornate plaster-work, Arabic arches and stained glass vault were carefully restored.


Old Government House

Corner of Princes Street and Waterloo Quadrant
Old Government House, completed in 1856, was the first mansion of its kind built in New Zealand.

Classical in style with much of the timber facade cut to resemble stone, it played an important part in the government of New Zealand until 1865 when the capital was moved to Wellington. For the next century it was Auckland's viceregal residence. Royalty stayed there six times and the present Queen broadcast her Christmas speech to the Commonwealth from upstairs in 1953.

Since being transferred to the University in 1969, the house has been the Staff Common Room. It also contains a Council reception suite, flats for visiting academics, rooms for the Federation of Graduate Women and a lecture theatre. Some of the trees in the grounds match Old Government House for antiquity. Two oaks at the north-western corner of Old Government House lawn were probably grown from acorns brought from the Great Forest at Windsor and the Royal Oak at Boscobel, Shropshire where Charles II hid after the battle of Worcester in 1651. The big coral tree and the Norfolk pine at the southern edge of the lawn are said to have been planted by Sir George Grey during his second term as governor (1861-67).


Maclaurin Chapel

18 Princes Street
Completed in 1964, the chapel was the gift of the late Sir William Goodfellow. It commemorates his son, Richard Maclaurin Goodfellow, who was killed in the Second World War, and his uncle, Richard Cockburn Maclaurin, an Auckland alumnus and distinguished mathematician.

The non-denominational chapel, whose hexagonal shape draws worshippers together towards a single focus, seats 150. The mullioned windows allow the changing seasons in the grounds outside to become part of the chapel interior. The Dutch-style organ is modelled on early baroque instruments of the late sixteenth century.

Find out more about the Maclaurin Chapel  


Barracks Wall

This wall, built in 1847, runs for 85 metres from the rear wing of the Old Arts Building to the back of Old Choral Hall.

It is the only remnant of the wall which enclosed nine hectares - including Albert Park - where a thousand British troops were stationed until 1870. The basalt stone was quarried from the slope of Mt Eden now known as Eden Garden.


Landscaping throughout the University is the responsibility of the grounds staff. Planted and paved open spaces are considered at the design stage of each new building and spectacular results have been achieved.

Special plant collections have been developed through the involvement of botanists in the School of Biological Sciences.

The University grounds were granted a heritage award in 1990 by the Auckland City Council.

Waipapa Marae

16 Wynyard Street
Part of the Māori Studies teaching complex, Waipapa Marae was completed in 1988. Representing all the major Iwi, it provides a focal point for the 1800 Māori students on campus.

The whare whakairo (meeting house) - Tane-nui-a-Rangi (Son of Ranginui) - is used for teaching, hui and formally welcoming University visitors. The elaborate carved figures, tukutuku (woven lattice work panels) and kowhaiwhai (painted rafter patterns) embrace the total cosmic genealogies and mythology of the Māori people, where hospitality continues to be dispensed in the whare kai (dining room).

To visit the whare whakairo contact the Marae Taurima, Rangimarie Rawiri at Māori Studies.
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 87938.

Find out more about Waipapa Marae  


School of Music

6 Symonds Street
Completed in 1986, the School of Music occupies one of the most striking buildings on the City Campus.

The building surrounds a tiled courtyard overlooked by balconies and screened from the street by a high curving wall. An ornate portico retained from previous buildings on the site forms the entrance.

The School's facilities include a 154-seat music theatre (containing two grand pianos, a double harpsichord and a manual organ), performance studios, an electronic music suite and an extensive library. The lively arrangement of these spaces is heightened by the imaginative use of colour throughout the interior. The building has received several architectural awards.


Fale Pasifika

22 Wynyard Street
Opened in October 2004, the Fale Pasifika is a traditional Pacific Island meeting-house. It is the second-largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and stands 12 metres high. The timber framework is New Zealand radiata pine, some of which was laminated to produce the traditional roof. Both traditional and contemporary Pacific artworks feature in the interior.

Arts-Commerce complex

Corner of Symonds Street and Grafton Road
The complex, completed in 1984, was designed to create a transition in scale between the five former houses retained along the street frontages and the bulky Human Sciences Building behind.

The S-shaped three-storey block (Commerce C) is stepped down the slope from the corner with the eight-level tower block (Arts) forming an L across the paved courtyard. The buildings are sheathed in cream brick with roof coverings of red tiles. Panels of multi-coloured glass enliven the exterior.

The complex received a national award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects.


Kate Edger Information Commons and Student Commons

Corner of Symonds and Alfred Streets
The Kate Edger Information Commons and Student Commons form a striking new gateway to the University. Two parallel five-storey buildings are connected by a large atrium with two major staircases. The glass Information Commons features a stainless steel mesh screen along its Symonds Street facade. The Student Commons, clad in anodised aluminium perforated plate, contains service, food and retail spaces. The building received a NZ Institute of Architects award which praised it as "a skilfully crafted contemporary icon".

Recreation Centre

17 Symonds Street
Built in 1978, the Recreation Centre is a large multi-purpose complex for students, staff and alumni.
The building, much of it below ground, has received several awards including the gold medal of the NZ Institute of Architects. The main hall, 918 square metres, with seating for 500 people, is used for badminton, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, table tennis, and indoor hockey and soccer. The centre also has health and fitness, dance and martial arts studios, and squash courts.


Engineering atrium

20 Symonds Street
Built in 2003, the Engineering atrium has created an impressive communal hub for the Faculty of Engineering. The tall composite steel and timber structure fills previously open space between large wings. It provides a generous common room area with an expanded cafeteria below. There is a 250-seat lecture theatre at one end while a long glass-enclosed colonnade runs alongside Symonds Street. A steel disc suspended from the roof 12 floors above overhangs the main entrance to form a futuristic porchway. The disc is part of an overall circular theme of punched holes in the floor and walls.

Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries

22-26 Symonds Street
Built in 1979, the complex consists of two contrasting blocks. Entry is through a spacious foyer with high, angular timber ceilings, where students often exhibit their models, drawings and photographs. The University Conference Centre is on the same level. Down the broad stairs, glass doors open on to terraces and lawns dominated by a group of old oaks and bounded by the semi-circle of the other much taller studio block.