The northern end of Lambton Quay marks the start of the Parliamentary District, dominated by the grandiose Old Government Buildings, which at first glance appear to be constructed from cream stone, but are really wooden. Designed by colonial architect William Clayton (1823–77) to mark the country’s transition from provincial to centralized government, the intention was to use stone but cost-cutting forced a rethink. When completed in 1876, it was the largest building in New Zealand, and except for an ornamental palace in Japan remains the largest timber building in the world. It’s currently occupied by Victoria University’s Law Faculty, but you can usually duck inside, nip up the rimu staircase and see the series of photos of the building as a backdrop to various historical demonstrations and protests.

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