Best Gala Dinner Venues in Wellington
by Luke Ellery | 26 Feb 2019
Wellington, the culture-filled capital of New Zealand, has a lot to offer in terms of private event spaces for gala dinners. We've filtered through the mass of options to bring you a list of the top 13 venues in Wellington for gala dinner events. Whether you are hosting an awards night for hundreds of industry professionals, or an intimate team gala dinner for 20-30 guests, our list will have the perfect venue for you. Don't waste time on anything less than the best, and these 13 gala dinner venues are certainly the best that Wellington has to offer.
1/ Te Papa - Te Marae
Image from Te Papa
Te Marae is a powerful work of contemporary architecture and art. Like all marae, it tells a story of identity. Te Marae in Te Papa stands out because it acknowledges the many cultures that live in Aotearoa, and showcases the bi-cultural identity of the museum itself.
Your guests can enjoy a seated gala dinner, or a standing cocktail night, surrounded by Maori inspired art. At the front of the room is the pièce de résistance, Te Marae. Seating 200 people in a gala-style dinner setup, the room boasts, stunning lighting design and spectacular views of Wellington.
Image provided by InterContinental Hotels
Intercontinental was the world's first international luxury hotel brand. With that title comes an expectation of well-established processes and an expert level of industry knowledge.
Intercontinental Hotel in Wellington has six unique event spaces suitable for a gala dinner. They can host a range of sizes from 20 to 220 but, no matter the size, Intercontinental believe that their local teams will create memorable and flawlessly executed events.
One of the joys of having a hotel venue for a gala dinner is that your guests have the option to stay at the hotel. Without the need to carpool, or Uber to and from your event, your guests will stay for longer and have a wee bit more to drink – which often leads to a few good laughs and positive memories.
3/ Wharewaka Function Centre
Image by Athfield Architects
Wharewaka Function Centre is an iconic landmark of the Wellington Waterfront. It boasts a delicious waterside cafe open 7-days a week. Behind the scenes, it also has five function spaces available for groups ranging from 20-500. It is a dedicated function space so you can rest assured that it has all the latest audio-visual tech, and areas that have been purpose-built for hosting successful private events.
Visitors to this landmark venue will also be able to view 3 Maori waka, permanently on display – except for when they are out on the water, which can be arranged. Waka harbour tours are considered to be one of the most culturally inspiring things to do in the city. So, if you have international guests coming to your gala dinner, you might like to make use of the waka’s availability. Booking with Wharewaka is organised exclusively through, event management company, Wellington Functions.
4/ Michael Fowler Centre
Image sourced from Venues Wellington
Award-winning architecture and a prime location, Michael Fowler Centre is a sophisticated luxury venue for your gala night. The centre has a three-story glass facade, and the interior is comprised of Italian marble and native timber.
Michael Fowler centre is also a cultural hub for many Wellingtonians as it functions as the home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; a fact that any sophisticates at your event will be quite pleased to know.
Two of their unique event spaces are the Renouf Foyer and the Lion Harbourview Lounge.
The Renouf Foyer boasts plenty of natural light, a sophisticated-looking hardwood floor, and space for up to 300 seated guests.
The Lion Harbourview lounge boasts (as expected from its name) beautiful views over the Wellington harbour. It also has floor-to-ceiling windows to enhance that view and create a consistent flow of natural light.
5/ The Opera House
Image from Venues Wellington
Dine on stage in one of Wellington’s oldest and most extravagant buildings, The Opera House. The massive dome ceiling and the raked stage will have you feeling like you’ve travelled back in time.
This setting is perfect for gala dinners, which often are best with an air of extravagance to them. The stage space is only suitable for about 130 seated guests, so some events might not fit, but if your guest list is anywhere up to 130, then this venue should be very high up on your priorities.
6/ St James Theatre
Image by Wellington NZ
It seems only fair to mention St James Theatre on this list too since we’ve covered the Opera house and the home of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. St James Theatre is the home of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. More than 280 guests can be seated on the stage, and since it was refurbished in the late 90s, it has access to plenty of 21st-century technology. St James is currently being renovated and will be reopened in 2020 – at which point, high tech spaces that maintain their old world style will be available for bookings.
7/ Shed 6 (TSB Auditorium)
Image by Venues Wellington
With its pillarless floor and soundproof walls, Shed 6 is entirely versatile. You can arrange tables in a multitude of ways because the vast open space has next to no obstructions. Shed 6 also boasts the latest in audio-visual technology. As the home of the annual WOW Arts Show (World of Wearable Arts Show), it needs to be continually ahead of the game in lighting and sound display.
Shed 6 is a part of a trio of venues that include TSB Auditorium, TSB Arcade, and TSB Arena. The latter is Wellington’s largest indoor event space and can host over 1000 people in a seated banquet setting.
8/ Brentwood Hotel and Conference Centre
Image source from Agoda
Brentwood Hotel is the closest hotel and conference centre to Wellington airport which makes it a convenient venue for people with international guests arriving on the night of the gala (or even if guests are flying from other cities in NZ).
All of their event spaces are located on the ground floor of the hotel which allows for easy access. Among the amenities provided by Brentwood are conference car parking, bar & restaurant entrance, and a swimming pool.
9/ Academy Galleries
Image by Venues Wellington
A modern and minimalist contemporary art showroom, Academy Galleries is the perfect place to hold a classy, intimate evening. With art regularly on display, you don't need to worry about decoration. The central location is easy to get to for Wellingtonians and tourists alike.
In a gala dinner setting, you can expect Academy Galleries to be suitable for groups up to 100. If you want a banquet with an ambience that promotes thought-provoking discussion, then Academy Galleries should be your top choice.
10/ The Basin Reserve
Image by the NZ Cricket Museum
The Basin Reserve is considered to be one of the world’s most picturesque cricket grounds and is also listed as one of the top 10 cricket venues in the world.
Recently, a 2015-2020 long term development plan was put in place by the local government to improve some of the areas that make up The Basin Reserve. By 2025, it will be as technologically advanced and modern as ever, but it will still maintain its historic aesthetic.
There are two primary function spaces in The Basin Reserve, the Longroom and the Norwood Room. Both of these spaces are suitable for gala banquets of over 100 pax. The Longroom boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and built-in bar space, while the Norwood Room houses the grand honours board.
11/ The Wardroom at Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club
Image by Black and Gold
The Wardroom in Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club is the perfect waterside venue for a small gala dinner. From inside The Wardroom, there are stunning views over the harbour which come to life at night reflecting the lights of nocturnal ships and the lively city. The Wardroom also has a large accessway to a wooden deck suspended over the water.
This venue can seat a maximum of 80 guests in a gala dinner style setting. With a fully equipped bar in the venue space and a nearby kitchen area, any catering options you go with will be seamlessly accessible.
12/ Harbourside Function Centre
Image by Black and Gold
Once a wharf warehouse housing various trade wares, Harbourside Function Centre is now a modern architectural space comprised of five meeting spaces. Its most spacious layout can host up to 350 seated guests for a gala dinner.
All their spaces have high-speed wifi, access to the latest audiovisual technology, wheelchair accessibility, and soundproof divides. Being a short walk from the iconic Te Papa museum, guests should be able to locate the venue easily.
13/ Rydges Wellington
Image sourced from Rydges Wellington
Rydges Hotel in Wellington is one of the city’s most experienced event providers. With a personal event coordinator assigned to every event booked with Rydges, you don't need to worry about organising the details, and you can leave much of the setup to their event team. Rydges pride themselves on food, believing that good food makes for a good event (they aren't wrong). They describe their food as “kaleidoscopic”, “fresh”, and “sinful” which are all words we can get behind when it comes to eating.
Rydges can host up to 230 people in a grand banquet setup. A few things you are guaranteed through an event with Rydges include flexible space with various options for setup, spacious breakout areas, entertainment available upon request, pre and post-conference activities, free wifi, audio-visual tech, stationery, and personalised catering.