Visit our reading rooms
Unless available online, you will need to visit one of our four reading rooms across the country to view archives. A reading room is a quiet space with dedicated staff to assist you in finding and ordering archives.
Preparing for your visit
Before you visit one of our reading rooms, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure your research journey will be as smooth as possible.
Read our what we have page to see if we have the records you need or if they are available online.
Check out our opening hours on our contact us page - our hours vary from archive to archive.
Think about your topic or subject of research. Are government records going to cover your topic? When or how might your subject have interacted with the government?
Consider which government agency or agencies may have dealt with your subject. Who created records that are relevant to your research?
Consider which of our branches may hold records from that government agency. For example, if you are looking for court records from the Dunedin High Court, these are held in the Dunedin archive.
Check whether there are other sources of information on your topic. Some sources may be easier to locate, such as published information held in libraries.
Research with us will be much easier if you bring as much information with you as you can, such as names of people you are interested in, dates and places of events.
Before you can view records in our reading rooms you will need to sign up for a reader card. You can sign up for a reader card. You can do this online, or in the reading room when you visit. We need to see proof of ID such as your passport or drivers licence. Please bring one along with you.
Parking and transport
Each of our locations has disabled parking available onsite. Please contact us before you visit, and we will book a disabled park for you.
Auckland has 10 free carparks and three disabled persons carparks available
Wellington does not offer general onsite parking however you can call us to organise disabled parking.
Christchurch has six free carparks and one disabled carpark. Free parking is also available on Harvard Avenue
Dunedin has six free carparks and one disabled persons carpark. All are sign posted at the street vehicle entrance
To get to our reading rooms using public transport we suggest the following routes:
Auckland. Take the 380 Airporter Bus. From Auckland Airport get off at stop 2041 opposite Park 'N Fly, Airpark Drive. From Onehunga Train Station get off at stop 2052 outside Park 'N Fly, Airpark Drive.
Wellington. The Wellington office is within walking distance from the train station and central bus exchange. From either of these locations walk up Mulgrave Street past the Thistle Inn.
Christchurch. Take the 80 or Yellow Line bus from the central bus exchange. These busses travel down Main South Road or Springs Road. Get off when you see the aircraft on a pole, then walk for 100m down Harvard Avenue. If you get off at the bus stop on Springs Road, make your way down Henry Wigram Drive until you get to Harvard Avenue.
Dunedin. To take the bus, get the number 8 Normanby, 10 Opoho or 5 Pine Hill routes and get off at Albany Street stop then we are just are short walk north up George Street.
Ordering archives to view
There are two ways you can order archives: onsite in our reading room or online before you visit. You must have a reader card before you can preorder records using Archway, our online search. If you haven't registered for a reader card, you can sign up for a reader card. If you can't visit one of our reading rooms, you can research remotely.
Orders may take up to an hour to be processed, with some exceptions. In Wellington, maps and plans are retrieved four times daily – at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Photo negatives in our cool store need 24 hours to acclimatise before they can be copied for viewing in the reading room. Ordering in advance will make things faster and avoid long wait times.
Only five records can be requested at one time. There is no daily limit on how many times you can order archives.
Some items are fragile and need time with our preservation team before they can be viewed. These will have restrictions placed on them. Please talk to a staff member or read the restriction information on Archway for more information on a restricted archive.
There may be other restrictions placed on our archives. For more information, visit our access restrictions page.
What to bring with you
If you are signing up for a reader card, please make sure you bring along a photo ID. You may bring into the reading room:
Mobile phones (on silent)
Caring for our archives
Our archives are unique, precious taonga. It is our job to care for these archives so that future generations can access them. To make sure of this, it is essential that all our researchers understand the following care requirements.
We will not issue archives to you without a reader card.
The archives must not be removed from the reading rooms under any circumstances.
These items are not allowed in the reading rooms:
Food or drink of any kind
There are lockers onsite for your belongings while you visit.
The reading rooms are quiet study spaces. Please keep your voice low and turn your phone onto silent. We will treat you with respect and courtesy, and it is expected that you will show the same behaviour to other researchers and to us.
You can make your own free copies of archives when you visit our reading rooms, using a digital camera, phone camera or approved scanner.
We also offer a copying service. You can view the pricing information and see our fees and charges.
If you wish to reuse or publish archives, please read our citation and reuse guidelines.
Who can use our records?
Anyone can access open records we hold. We welcome all researchers, and you don’t need to be a New Zealand citizen to use our services.
Is there a charge to use the reading rooms?
No. Viewing records in person at our reading rooms is free of charge. There is also no charge for taking your own photographs of the records.
Any copying or remote reference services may incur a fee.
Do I need to make an appointment to view archives?
No, you can visit us without prior arrangement during our open hours. But if you plan to view many records or if you know that you will need a lot help from our staff we would appreciate if you could contact us before your visit so that we can discuss your needs.
Can I be issued records ordered by someone else?
No. Records can only be issued to the person who submitted the order using their reader card. This is to protect personal privacy.
Can I take my own photos?
Yes. You are welcome to take your own photographs using a camera or device, but you must turn the flash off before doing so to protect the archives.
Can I use a scanner in the reading rooms?
Some scanners can be used. However, these must be checked with the archivists on duty in the reading rooms beforehand. We don’t allow the use of scanners which touch the records or make noise that disturbs other researchers.
Can I take the archives away with me?
No. The archive records MUST NOT leave the reading rooms. You must return them to the issues desk after you have finished with them. Removing archives from the reading rooms is a criminal offence.
Can children visit the reading rooms?
Children are allowed in the reading rooms under parental or guardian supervision. Our staff are not responsible for supervising children. If children disturb other researchers or damage the archives they and their caregivers will be asked to leave.
Can I leave my personal property in the reading rooms?
You can do so at your own risk. We don’t take responsibility for personal items that are stolen or damaged in the reading rooms or the lockers. Please be aware of your property.