Plimmer's Ark - Atlas Obscura

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Plimmer's Ark Remains

The remnants of a 1849 sunken ship lie underneath a building. 


The story of how a sunken ship was found buried on land starts with John Plimmer, an English settler and entrepreneur. In 1849, the ship, the Inconstant, hit rocks at the entrance of Wellington harbor. John Plimmer salvaged the damaged ship and turned it into a warehouse dubbed “Plimmer’s Ark.”

An earthquake rendered part of the ark unusable, and as Wellington grew, the ark was buried to reclaim land for other structures. Wood from the ark was reclaimed in 1899 and turned into chairs; one of the chairs can be seen in the Turnbull Library. The Old Bank Arcade was built over the ship’s burial site in 1901 by Thomas Turnbull. 

During renovations to the Old Bank Arcade in 1997, the ship’s remains were discovered and captured the public’s imagination. The ship’s remains can be viewed through glass floor tiles along with other artifacts. 

Know Before You Go

Plimmer's Ark is located in the Old Bank Arcade and is free to visit.

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