Willis Lane reimagines the city’s historic underground walkways into a subterranean epicentre of late-night revelry. The space has been transformed into a series of weaving tunnels and vaulted brick archways filled with eclectic food vendors, open dining spaces and thrilling entertainment. But for a moment, take a trip with us down memory lane.
Step into a slice of New Zealand history at 1 Willis Street, the site we now know as the iconic AON Centre.
What started as a mere blueprint in 1974, this modern marvel spent many years in the making, challenged by spirited debates between the government and the Boilermakers Union. But when 1985 rolled around, the AON Centre rose triumphant, christened as the country's loftiest structure.
Beyond its towering 26 floors, the AON Centre dives deep below the surface. This underground playground hosted the nation's first subterranean shopping experience, shielding visitors from the notorious weather and offering pedestrian-friendly routes separate from the bustling streets above. A lattice of stairs, escalators and corridors connected this hidden realm to nearby treasures like the Old Bank Arcade.
The roots of 1 Willis Street reach back even further, starting with the Swinburne's Steam Packet Hotel and later becoming the King's Chambers. And the bank? It's been here since 1862, as the first-ever Bank of New Zealand.
1 Willis Street is an iconic building in the Wellington skyline. Many Wellingtonians will remember the skeletal presence of the tower when it stood half-constructed during the Boilermakers' strike, etching an indelible memory in the city's collective mind.
Strategically located at the intersection of three lively streets, 1 Willis Street is the heartthrob of Wellington's much-celebrated 'Golden Mile.' The building itself is a visual enigma. Under certain lights, it appears as a black monolith, its secrets locked away. Yet, under the soft caress of sunnier rays, it opens up, revealing its architectural depth and complexity.
Willis Lane is owned and operated by NZX listed Precinct Properties New Zealand Limited.
Precinct is the largest owner of commercial inner-city business space in Auckland and Wellington. Our diverse portfolio also includes retail and hospitality assets including Commercial Bay on Auckland city centre’s waterfront and Wellington’s Bowen Campus next to the iconic Beehive – a campus that is transforming Wellington's Government Precinct.
In recent years Precinct has focused on creating incredible mixed-use places that connect the private and public realm. Places that offer convenience and utility for workers who occupy the city centre during the 9 to 5, and also places for residents and visitors to benefit from and enjoy in the evenings and on weekends.