A heritage structure protected by Wellington City Council’s District Plan, the wall was constructed between 1922 and 1930 and forms the edge to the Oriental Bay Parade. It’s a popular promenade, a significant public amenity for recreation, and provides a critical route in emergencies.
The condition of the Oriental Bay sea wall has deteriorated over time, so the entire length of the wall from Freyberg Pool to Carlton Gore Road will be repaired in three stages over a period of years.
Stage 1 involves repairs to the section of the wall between Grass Street and Carlton Gore Road.
From April to September 2021 contractors will be filling cracks, removing rusted steel remnants and replacing degraded concrete. This work will extend the life of the century-old sea wall, helping protect Oriental Bay for future generations.
No disruption is expected as the footpath is wide enough for repairs to be made without impacting on the promenade or parking.
Stage 2 is planned for 2022-2023 and involves repair work from Freyberg Pool to Grass Street. The third and final stage will focus on ground improvement works behind the seawall section from Freyberg Pool to the Band Rotunda. This work is expected to be done in 2024-2025.
Oriental Bay is a historically significant area of Wellington. Ngai Tara established the palisaded kainga Te Waihirere Pā on O-maru-kai-kuru Point Jerningham, overlooking the bays. Te Waihirere was named for the ‘gushing waters’ that swept over the hilltop while the pā was being constructed. Renamed following the arrival of the sailing ship the Oriental in 1840, the bay was described at that time as a ‘dreary-looking spot’ with steep hills and a narrow rocky shore, remote enough to be used for farmland and a quarantine station.
After the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake raised the beach, colonial settlement increased and by the 1880s the area had roading, a temporary light railway carrying fill to the Te Aro harbour reclamation, and whalers rendering ‘unpleasantly pungent’ whale blubber on the shore.
A new century heralded positive changes for Oriental Bay. The Te Aro Baths were built in the early 1900s, the electric tramway to the bottom of Carlton Gore Road was constructed in 1905, and by 1914 the Oriental Bay tea kiosk was a popular destination. The bay’s iconic Norfolk pines were first planted in 1917, the first band rotunda was relocated on the beach’s rocky promontory in 1919, and construction of the sea wall began in 1922.
Over the decades loads of sand have been brought in to enhance the ‘Riviera of the South’ – Wellington’s seaside playground.