Spaces and places: Lower Tory Street, Wellington

Here we are with the first of an occasional series on urban spaces and places, starting with lower Tory Street here in Wellington.  And why here? Well, after the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, this part of town was one that saw a number of buildings damaged, as well as the demolition of the car park behind the cinema that backed on to the street.  This meant that parts of the street were closed off at various times.  There was further damage to some flats next to the old car park, which were damaged by the demolition work.  This part of Tory Street is one I walk down quite often, on the way to Pilates, or to have the best lemon, ginger and honey in Wellington at Poquito.

Kaikoura Earthquake and what happened on Tory Street

Due to the closures and repairs, local businesses suffered and people had to move out. So to try and create a more positive feel, Wellington City Council created a project to rejuvenate this part of Tory Street.

The project


Twelve ideas were put forward, co-designed by Victoria University’s School of Landscape Architecture, local residents and businesses for a temporary change to lower Tory Street, (the section between Courtney Place and Wakefield Street).  The proposals were put on display, and the pubic voted the winning design, It’s Tory Time, to be implemented.

The wall, the meeting spaces, the plants


The design features platform seating, tubs of plants and a wall that hides was the car park.  Traffic flows one way down the street, in a twisting path (see the picture above), and the rest of the space is made up of areas where people sit and drink coffee or chat, green tubs of plants and the wall of bright coloured dots you can see in the picture above. The installations are temporary, with a view to testing the new layout and design to see how it works.

A place to sit, chat, drink coffee

This is very much a work in progress, but I really like the idea of carving out a bit of new space and seeing how people use it.  Some cafe tables have already appeared at one end, and there is already a different feel to the street.  It will be interesting to see if the design is made permanent, and how the locals feel about this piece of ‘tactical urbanism’.

Also check out Opening Up Wellington’s Laneways, this two year old post Peanut butter, chocolate and tea  and this one about Thorndon for other notes about parts of Wellington.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on

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