Where are New Zealand's ugliest buildings?Is this one of New Zealand's ugliest buildings? City council building, 32 The Square, Palmerston North. Photo: Robert Kitchin, Fairfax NZ

Where are New Zealand's ugliest buildings?

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but is there a unifying definition of an ugly building?

After all, one person’s Sky Tower could be another person’s “pointy space needle”.

Bill McKay, senior lecturer at the Auckland University School of Architecture, says a beautiful building is one that fulfils its purpose sufficiently and gracefully.

He says the worst offenders are car parking buildings and apartment blocks because their functionality is so single-minded: cram as many cars or people as possible into a single space.

McKay gives Auckland’s Waldorf on Scene Apartments in Britomart as an example: “It’s an ugly, selfish building that forms a giant barrier you have to walk all the way around and it block sea views for neighbouring buildings.”

New Zealand is a curious nation so we thought it might be fun to name and shame some of our ugliest, albeit endearing, eyesores.

Scroll for more after the video and vote in the poll


The former Auckland Council building, Greys Avenue

The 1950s Modernist Civic Building located in the heart of the city was probably “modern” at one stage.

The Hilton, 147 Quay Street

Photo: Fairfax NZ

Made to look like a cruise ship, some locals wish it would cruise away.

The Spencer on Byron Hotel, 9-17 Byron Avenue, Takapuna Beach

Photo: Ben Watson / Fairfax Media

This large landmark is affectionately dubbed the “Burj Khalifa” of the North Shore because it’s one of the few high rises around.


The Base Shopping Centre, Te Rapa Road & Wairere Drive

Photo: Fairfax NZ

You know when you have been listed in a pageant to find Hamilton’s most ill-favoured commercial architecture, that you may have an image problem.

Palmerston North

City council building, 32 The Square

Photo: Robert Kitchin / Fairfax NZ

It may be the epitome of 1960s concrete brutalism, but on the roof sits an elegant solar farm, generating about the same amount of electricity as the building uses during off-peak hours.

PMTC Building, Main Street

Photo: Paul Harper / Fairfax NZ

We say the Spark Communications headquarters should take a lesson from Spark and think about a bit of a makeover.

Locals call it K9 because it looks like the dog (K9) from Dr Who in the 1970s.


The Beehive, Molesworth Street

Photo: Alex Liu / Fairfax NZ

Labelled the third ugliest building in the world buy virtualtourist.com in 2009, our central government building was described as “a slide projector that fell on a wedding cake that fell on a waterwheel”.


The former Government Life building, Cathedral Square

Photo: Fairfax NZ

An entry in the Encyclopedia of New Zealand described it as Christchurch’s first example of a “modernist glass box”. Perhaps it’s a good thing this one has been demolished.


Civic House, 110 Trafalgar Street

Photo: Fairfax NZ

Even the rainbow can’t redeem Nelson’s Civic House.

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