The Bolton Hotel has been part of Wellington since 2005 but our connection to the city goes much further back than that. In 1840 the British began colonizing New Zealand and many of Wellington’s prominent streets were named after the ships that came here. Bolton Street and this hotel were named after the ship Bolton.

Wellington’s original burial ground is located in Bolton Street. It opened in 1840 and commemorates many early pioneers and important historical figures from that era.

At first the struggling citizens of Wellington could only afford wooden headboards and picket fences for protection from cows grazing on land overgrown by weeds. Deaths were recorded but the locations of grave plots were not listed until the 1850s. Unfortunately the wooden headboards have long since rotted away and many of those older plots can no longer be found.

In 1851 the cemetery was split into three sectarian areas. As the town grew, the three cemeteries became surrounded by development. With imminent overcrowding and concerns about health risks, the Karori Cemetery was established and in 1892 the town cemeteries closed except for close kin within existing family plots.

Today the cemetery is a peaceful sanctuary of cultivated and forested open space. Over 1,300 carved and worn monuments are distributed throughout the cemetery that straddles the motorway. A nationally important collection of heritage roses, some dated from the colonial era, inter-twine with other early plantings amongst picket fences and wrought iron surrounds. Walkways offer a unique stroll between the city centre and the formal Rose Garden of the Botanic Gardens.

The Bolton Hotel is proud to be a member of The Friends of the Cemetery who preserve, protect and develop the historic atmosphere of the grounds.