Bolton Street Cemetery and Memorial Park

Bolton Street Cemetery on-leash walk in Thorndon

I had an hour or so to fill in around the Wellington CBD so the dogs and I headed off for a walk in the Botanic Gardens. The carpark by the Rose Garden was full though so I drove on round and finally found a free spot by the Seddon Memorial.

Then I thought a wander through the Bolton St Cemetery might be interesting. And it was. Luckily dogs are allowed on-leash, so we spent a pleasant hour strolling up and down steps and paths, looking at graves and trees and views.

Graves in Bolton St Cemetery.

Graves in Bolton St Cemetery and Memorial Park, with the buildings of central Wellington in the background.


Settlers from the 1800s

Bolton Street Memorial Park in central Wellington, New Zealand, contains the city’s original burial ground commonly known previously as Bolton Street Cemetery. It commemorates many early pioneers and important historical figures from the 19th Century.

[Via Friends of Bolton Street Memorial Park – Wellington, New Zealand.]

Casually reading inscriptions on the various markers showed that many of those buried here died in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I noticed any number of names that are familiar, one way and another, from life in New Zealand.

The graves are obviously old, quite haphazard, in various stages of disarray and sometimes quite overgrown. Sometimes there was just a piece of stone in the ground, with no readily discernible inscription.

The paths were sometimes steep and rough, at other times paved. There are plenty of trees and plants and grasses, offering shade and plenty to look at, along with the graves.

There’s a map of the Memorial Trail (1.4MB PDF) on the Friends of Bolton Street Memorial Park website. The trail has numbered markers at various points of interest.

A motorway through the middle

After following the tracks down the hill we reached the motorway.

Huge controversy prevailed in the 1960s over the proposed selection of the cemeteries area for the route of Wellington ‘s motorway. The cemetery was temporarily closed to all public access from 1968 until 1971 while about 3,700 burials, many newly discovered, were exhumed.

[Via History – Friends of Bolton Street Memorial Park.]

We didn’t take the footbridge that crosses above the motorway: our little dogs are sensitive wee things who had already been startled by a loud truck passing by. I preferred to not cross above a busy road with them.

John Plimmer’s marker

I was surprised to come across a marker for John Plimmer, ‘Father of Wellington’, hidden behind some bushes and generally rather inconspicuous down beside the motorway. We’ve mentioned Plimmer before now, because of the statue of him and his dog at the foot of Plimmer Steps: John Plimmer’s dog Fritz, Fritz and the tail tip warmer.

Marker for John Plimmer, Father of Wellington.

Marker for John Plimmer, Father of Wellington.


A pleasant on-leash walk

The Bolton Street Cemetery and Memorial Park is fairly large with many possible paths to follow, on both sides of the motorway. With its trees, bushes and other plants, and all the graves, it’s a pleasant and interesting walk.

Most of the tracks aren’t really suitable for people with pushchairs or for wheelchairs or those who aren’t too steady on their feet, but some areas are easy for anyone.

There are some interesting views of various parts of town.

The dogs must be on-leash but there’s plenty for them to sniff.

There are a few seats here and there and rubbish bins certainly in the main part of the Gardens. This would not be an area to walk in at night.

See the next page for a photo album from our walk.