Basin Reserve

Infobox cricket ground
ground_name = Basin Reserve
nickname = The Basin
country = New Zealand
coordinates = coord|-41.300383|174.780335

image caption = A view of Basin Reserve with the stands and carillon in the background
location = Wellington, New Zealand
establishment = 1868
seating_capacity = 11,600
end1 = Vance Stand End
end2 = Scoreboard End
international = true
firsttestdate = 24 January
firsttestyear = 1930
firsttesthome = New Zealand
firsttestaway = England
lasttestdate = 15 December
lasttestyear = 2006
lasttesthome = New Zealand
lasttestaway = Sri Lanka
firstodidate = 9 March
firstodiyear = 1975
firstodihome = New Zealand
firstodiaway = England
lastodidate = 1 March
lastodiyear = 2005
lastodihome = New Zealand
lastodiaway = Australia
year1 = 1873 – present
club1 = Wellington
date = 15 December
year = 2007
source = CricketArchive
The Basin Reserve (commonly known by locals as "The Basin"), is a cricket ground in Wellington, New Zealand, used for Test, first-class and one-day cricket. Some argue that its proximity to the city, its Historic Place status and its age make it the most famous cricket ground in New Zealand.Neely, D., Romanos, J. (2003). The Basin - An Illustrated History of the Basin Reserve. "Canterbury University Press".] The Basin Reserve is the only cricket ground in New Zealand to have Historic Place status. The ground has been used for events other than cricket, such as concerts, sports events and other social gatherings, but it is now almost solely used for cricket, particularly Test matches.


The Basin Reserve is 2km south of the Wellington CBD at the foot of Mount Victoria. Government House and the boys' school Wellington College are to the south of the Basin, across the street. At the eastern end of the basin is the Mount Victoria Tunnel, which increased the traffic flow around the Basin Reserve when it was built in 1931. One of the incidental quirks of the Basin is that, as traffic about it flows one way, it is reputedly the largest traffic island in the southern hemisphere.

The "New Zealand Cricket Museum" is located in the Old Grandstand. It houses cricket memorabilia and a reference library.

The Basin Reserve is also surrounded by numerous other Wellington landmarks, including Mount Cook Barracks, the Wellington National War Memorial Carillon, several colleges and high schools, the Caledonian Hotel and the former Dominion Museum. The Basin Reserve is the intersection point for the Wellington suburbs of Mt Cook, Newtown and Mt Victoria. []

Construction history

The area that is now Basin Reserve was originally a lake (known as the Basin Lake), and there were plans to connect it to the sea by a canal to make it an alternative inner city harbour, with major warehouses and factories alongside it. However, an earthquake in 1855 uplifted the area nearly 1.8 m and turned the lake into a swamp. [ [ Historic earthquakes - The 1855 Wairarapa earthquake - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand ] ] Due to the colonists' English roots, sport, particularly cricket, was a vital part of the community's way to relax. However, no land had been allocated by the city planners for recreational reserves. Although natural grounds, such as the Te Aro flat, provided a small area for matches, the colonists wanted more recreational land than what they had. The matter became more dire as buildings began to be erected on these flat plains, as flat land was hard to find in the mountainous Wellington. So after the 1855 earthquake, which historians estimate measured 8 on the Richter scale, influential citizens seized the chance in 1857 to suggest that the new land be drained and made into a recreational reserve. The Wellington council accepted the proposal and beginning on February 3 1863 prisoners from the Mount Cook Gaol began to level and drain the new land. The swamp was drained by September and a fence was placed around the entire area along with hedges. However, massive population influxes from 1863 until 1866 (caused mostly by the Parliament being situated in Wellington) hampered construction on the Basin Reserve as workers were pulled to other areas.

After a council meeting on 11 December 1866 the Basin Reserve became Wellington's official cricket ground. No cattle or horses were allowed in the ground and only small hedges and shrubs were allowed to be planted so as not to hamper cricket games. Soon after, on 11 January, 1868, the first game of cricket was played, although the ground had numerous stones and thistles on it, which the umpire later apologised for as some players got injured from them. Although it was the opening day, no ceremony or music was played, nor was the opening advertised with banners.

Soon after that first event, the Highland Games began being held at the Basin Reserve. The games were organised by the Wellingtonian Caledonian Society, of which their headquarters, The Caledonian Hotel, still stands towards the south of the Basin Reserve. The society offered up prize money which brought many competitors to the region. Due to their success, the society petitioned to have new grandstands built at the western end of the Basin Reserve. They would measure 44 ft by 20 ft and would cost approximately £250–£300. The stands would also hold food stalls and ground keepers. However, for the following years, even up until reportedly 1872, the Basin Reserve grounds were still extremely swampy, with small pools of swamp water and various weeds and shrubs sprouting over the fields. In late 1872, horses were used to level the playing field and this greatly improved the conditions.

The pavilion has been a Category II registered Historic Place since 1982,] and the entire Basin Reserve has been a registered Historic Area since 1998.

Event history

The first ever event played on the Basin Reserve was a game of one-day cricket on 11 January, 1868 between the Mount Cook Gaol prisoners and their officers and the crew of the HMS "Falcon", which was docked in Wellington. However, the game was hampered with injuries from numerous stones and thistles in the grass, which led to the injury of some players. The umpire apologised after the game to the players for the poor conditions of play.

After that first event, local societies began organising athletic and sport meetings at the Basin Reserve. These meetings were eventually called the Highland Games and it was their success which led to the construction of the ground's grand stand. The events included athletics, racing, dancing and later wood-chopping and cycling. However, the ground was still swampy in some areas, but was remedied in late 1872. This allowed the first first-class game, Wellington against Auckland, to be played on 30 November 1873, which Wellington won easily. Another first at the Basin Reserve is reputedly what was the first game of rugby in the North Island. The first rugby game held at the Basin Reserve was between the Wellington football team and the crew of HMS "Rosario", which the sailors won by a single goal.

's Westpac Park was unfit for cricket.

In addition to cricket, other sports have also used the Basin Reserve, including rugby union, a rugby league test match and exhibition Australian rules football matches.



*Neely, D., Romanos, J. (2003). The Basin - An Illustrated History of the Basin Reserve. "Canterbury University Press". ISBN 1-877257-05-2.

External links

* [ Quick information about the Basin Reserve] .
* [ New Zealand Cricket Museum]

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