The Thistle Inn received the second liquor license issued in New Zealand and is New Zealand's oldest surviving tavern and restaurant operating from its original site. Today many patrons enjoy its hospitality completely unaware of the significance of its wooden floorboards, low sash windows and its location steeped in history, near Wellington's Central Business District.
Destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1866, the diminutive Thistle Inn has stood in modest splendour on the same spot for the last 165 years. From its wide front windows it has watched a cavalcade of Wellington's history pass by and rubbed shoulders with politicians, felons and the famous characters of New Zealand history.
Today, protected by a Category One Preservation Order it is still popular with local office workers for a lunchtime break and in the evening it still resonates to the sounds of talk, laughter and the clink of glasses. Standing as tall as those buildings which surround it, the Thistle Inn still looks good on its corner section in the downtown Wellington suburb of Thorndon.
Even without the sea at its front door, the building still looks almost exactly as it did in those early days of Wellington. This lovely old building has become a part of the Wellington landscape every bit as much as the harbour, the hills and the curving foreshore of the waterfront.