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Tags : Landmark

Timings : 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Time Required : 1 - 2 hrs

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The Beehive, Wellington Overview

Considered to be a landmark building of the town, The Beehive is the Executive Wing of the iconic New Zealand Parliamentary buildings. Situated at the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay in Wellington, New Zealand, The Beehive is called so because of its shape; that is in the form of a traditional beehive, also known as a ‘skep’.

The building houses the office of the prime minister and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, in addition to several other offices of other government officials. The 72 metres tall building has ten floors above and four floors below. Designed by the British architect- Sir Basil Spence in 1964, the Beehive also has an array of meeting rooms, bars, lounges, pubs and TV and Radio interview rooms.

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History of The Beehive

The New Zealand Parliament had been built in 1922 but was only halfway complete. So in the 1960s, the government raised the issue of completing the partial building. So in 1964, Scottish architect Sir Basil Spence came up with the modern design of the Beehive which was different than the original tradition design for the section. This design was like and approved and the construction of the circular building rising in the steps was undertaken by the New Zealand government architect Fergus Sheppard of the Ministry of Works. The Beehive was constructed in stages between 1969 and 1979. First came the podium and then the underground car park along with the basement. Lastly, the 10 floors were constructed. 

Even after the basic construction, renovation and interior designing of the building continued. Several modifications happened between 1998 and 2006 and the interior was modernized. Very lately, in 2013 and 2014, the windows were replaced and the roof was constructed. In 2015, it was registered as Category I heritage building by Heritage New Zealand.

Structure of The Beehive

The iconic beehive building called the Beehive popularly rises to a height of 72 metres above the ground with a total of 10 floors. It also has 4 floors below the ground and boasts of a gorgeous foyer done up in marbles, translucent carved glass ceiling and stainless steel mesh wall panels. The weathered roof has been designed to give it that look with the help of over 20 tonnes of copper. The most unique feature of the building however, is the secret tunnel running from the Bowen Street from the Beehive to the Parliamentary offices in Bowen House. On artistic fronts, the building has a lavish decor- there is a huge mural of the atmosphere and the skyline of New Zealand, painted by the famous artist John Drawbridge among other paintings, murals and New Zealand artwork etc. The rotunda or the circular dome of the building, although is very pleasing to look at and is one of the most iconic constructions in town, is considered somewhat impractical as it makes the rooms wedgy, curved and asymmetrical. Other than that, The Beehive is the popular attraction in town and even features on the twenty dollar note since 1992.

Main Areas of The Beehive

There are several rooms, offices, bars, pubs and lounges in the Beehive in addition to a gym, banquet hall and a swimming pool. There is a Cabinet Room at the top, with the Prime Minister’s office just underneath on the ninth floor. The ministers are placed on the floor as per their ranking and hierarchy in the cabinet. However, the most important areas in the building can be shortlisted to the three given below-
  1. The Entrance Foyer

    The Foyer at the Beehive is the starting point to all the tours of the place. The impressive double storey space has a core adorned with marble floor, a translucent glass ceiling and stainless steel mesh wall panels. These wall panels are made out of New Zealand’s own home grown Macrocarpa. There are also columns made in Takaka marbles. One side of the wall is backlit translucent onyx wall while the other three are glazed and opaque.
  2. Banquet Hall

    Banquet Hall is another important feature of the building which is constructed on the first floor and is the largest room for parties in all the Parliamentary Complex. The gorgeous is also open for tours which can be reached through the open staircase adorned with bronze balustrades from the Foyer itself.
  3. National Crisis Research Centre

    National Crisis Research Centre is the space which is the Government’s Command Centre in the case of a major emergency or security threat. The centre is furnished with kitchens, bunkrooms, and other basic necessities so that people can live and function here while working on strategic cases for longish periods of time. This is also the space which is mostly featured in most disaster movies starring Gerard Butler or Karl Urban etc., when showcasing the Parliament.

Tours at The Beehive

There are free guided tours conducted everyday in the Beehive. These tours begin at the Foyer of the Beehive in the Visitor’s Centre. The guides take the volunteers across different buildings of the Parliament as well. Public Tours are of a duration of 1 hour and reservations need to be made beforehand. Separate individuals are not required to book tours. They are only expected to arrive early and choose a preferred slot along with the groups. Sizes of these groups are limited extending upto 10 members per group. The volunteers are also required to reach at least 15 minutes in advance before the tour begins so that the valuables and other things like bags, coats, cameras, phones, and other electronic devices can be securely deposited at the secure storage in the Visitor’s Centre well in time before the tour starts.

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