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New Zealand’s Eiffel Tower opens

17 December 1889

Eiffel Tower replica at the NZ and South Seas Exhibition, c. 1889
Eiffel Tower replica at the NZ and South Seas Exhibition, c. 1889 (Hocken Library, S09-391a)

Just 8½ months after Gustave Eiffel’s famous Paris tower was officially completed in March 1889, a wooden replica Eiffel Tower opened at the 1889–90 New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin.

The exhibition offered the Austral Otis Elevator Company, which built the Eiffel Tower’s elevators, a chance to display its wares in New Zealand. It constructed the 40-metre wooden tower, inside which an elevator rose about 30 metres. The tower cost about £1200 (equivalent to $240,000 today). A ride cost adults sixpence ($5) and children threepence ($2.50).

The cabin of the elevator accommodated 16 people, who could alight on any of the four landings, each of which was bordered by a wooden fence to prevent accidents. An Otis steam-hoisting engine provided power to the four strong wire cables. The cabin and landings were lit by electricity, and at the top, a large electric searchlight lit the sky.

The exhibition boasted two other Eiffel Towers. A 20-foot-high wooden replica stood in the gardens, while the Auckland court featured a model built entirely of whisky barrels and bottles.

By Nigel Isaacs

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New Zealand’s Eiffel Tower opens, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated