Meet the Old Government Buildings, a grand wooden wonder in the heart of New Zealand.

For over a century, the Government Buildings Historic Reserve in Wellington was the world’s second largest wooden building. Credit: Creative Commons

Commissioned in the early 1870s, the Old Government Buildings, alternatively known as the Government Buildings Historic Reserve, is situated on Lambton Quay in Wellington. After 22 months of construction, it was completed in 1876 at a cost of £39 000.

Until 1998 it was the second largest wooden building in the world for more than a century after Tōdai-ji in Nara, Japan. The architect was William Clayton and the contractors were Scoular and Archibald.

The original plan for the building was for it to be constructed in concrete and timber, however with hefty concrete prices, builders were forced to turn to wood.

The four-story structure was built using rare native kauri wood. Kauri is now a protected type of forest in New Zealand, making the building a one-of-a-kind architectural masterpiece.

Designed to mimic stone, the building evokes the Italianate, Neo-Renaissance style used typically in stone building construction.

Easily the largest building in the country at the time, the Old Government Buildings is now considered to be one of New Zealand’s most important historic buildings.