Civic Theatre transformation

The Civic Theatre Complex is in the heart of the inner city of Invercargill. The imposing structure is one of Invercargill’s landmark buildings and serves as the cultural heart of the Southland community.


The Invercargill Town Hall, as it was then, was opened in 1906. The complex was built for £21,700, from a rating base of about 1300 people. The Civic Theatre Complex as it is now known, was extensively renovated at a cost of $15.8 million and officially reopened in April 2005. Originally built as municipal offices with lecture hall and theatre, connected by the dress circle staircase, the complex has seen a number of refurbishments. Renovations over the years transformed the offices and hall into function rooms at the front of the theatre, but the back of house had not been touched.

The Council made a somewhat brave decision, for a smaller city, to upgrade all aspects of the venue, enabling the complex to meet modern technical demands and ensure the comfort of patrons and guests.

Historic Places Trust architects worked with theatre consultants to ensure that the renovations kept essential historic elements and the complex now features state-of-the-art performing art facilities with unique Edwardian decor style surroundings.

The Front of House and function room areas have been extensively refurbished, and feature charming Edwardian decor while fulfilling a multitude of uses. The auditorium boasts grandiose decor in deep red with gold plasterwork. The auditorium can seat up to 1015 people and each seat has individual heating and air-conditioning vents located in the floor beneath. The backstage and dressing room block was demolished, redesigned and rebuilt to meet modern performing arts demands and now has a modern theatrical fly system, an elevating stage extension, new sound, lighting and communication systems and plenty of dressing rooms.

Theatre details

Physical address: 88 Tay Street, Invercargill
Postal address: Theatre Services, Invercargill City Council, Private Bag 90104, Invercargill.

Capacity: 1015

Stalls: 520 – Stalls seating plan
Dress Circle: 259 – Circle seating plan
Gallery: 236 – Gallery seating plan

House: 12 house seats are reserved for Invercargill City Council use. The seats are Stalls L4, L5, R16, R17 and in the Dress Circle A16, A17, A19, A20, C19, C20, H21, H22.

Sound Desk Area: 11 sound desk seats are removed when a sound, lighting or mixing desk is required. The seats are in the back stalls area R 19 – 24 and S 20 – 24.

Stage Extension: 35 seats are removed if the stage extension is required. They are AA 11 – 25 and BB 9 – 28 in the front stalls.

Wheelchair Spaces: 5 wheelchair spaces are available in the stalls level. They are S 9-10, 12-13, 15-16, 25-26, 28-29.


Floor Plans



At the theatre

Usher assistance
Our friendly theatre ushers are fully-trained in all areas of theatre activity including safety procedures. They are available prior, during and after a show and are your first point of contact if you have any special requirements. They are also on-hand to direct you to your allocated seat.

Please advise the Council’s booking office staff when you are purchasing a ticket if you have difficulty with mobility or if you require a wheelchair space. Our booking office staff will supply you with tickets to a suitable area and seat. Mobility information is passed onto our theatre staff so that we can plan for your arrival. Our ushers will look out for you and assist you to your seat.

The most convenient access to the Civic for people with mobility difficulties is via the East Entrance. If someone is driving to the venue with you, they can drive into the carpark off Tay Street, pull up to the drop off point, assist you through the East Entrance doors, and return after parking the car. A lift is available in the East Entrance lobby if you are seated in the Dress Circle on the first floor. There is no lift to the Gallery level. The Gallery is not recommended for people with mobility difficulties. In the Civic Theatre there are five wheelchair spaces in the back stalls area, each with an accompanying carer’s seat.

Show time
We recommend you arrive at the theatre at least 30 minutes before the start of the show. This will give you time to visit the bar for a drink, perhaps buy some chocolates and to find your seats before the performance starts. Some performances have a strict lockout policy; that means latecomers might not be admitted to the theatre until a suitable break in the performance. This is at the discretion of the company performing and in some instances can mean latecomers will not be admitted until the interval. Arrive early to avoid disappointment. Announcements will be made advising you when to take your seat.

Generally taking photos or videos at a performance is not permitted. However this is determined by the company performing, so if in doubt, ask an usher. Taking pictures using a mobile phone is forbidden. Please remember to turn your mobile phone off. Some performers stop their performance when a phone rings which can be most embarrassing for the patron.

Parking and transport
There are several public car parks (and taxi ranks) within easy walking distance of the Civic Theatre.

Ticketing information
Tickets can be purchased from the Invercargill City Council’s Booking Office which operates from the Civic Administration Building at 101 Esk Street, Invercargill (adjacent to the Civic Theatre). Opening hours are from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Cheques are accepted if accompanied by suitable identification and should be made payable to Invercargill City Council Booking Office. Eftpos is available, and Bankcard, MasterCard, Visa and American Express card payments are accepted.

Telephone (03) 211 1692 (have your credit card ready). Tickets are either posted or can be held at the theatre booking office – you need identification to uplift the tickets from the booking office.

Online: Ticketek accepts Visa and MasterCard. Tickets are either posted or held at the appropriate theatre booking office; you will need identification to pick up the tickets from a booking office. Door sales are usually available from the theatre, one hour before the show, if not sold out. Payment can be made by Eftpos, Bankcard, MasterCard, Visa or American Express.

Prices and sales terms

Choose your tickets carefully as they cannot be refunded, transferred or exchanged. A transaction fee of $3 per booking applies for all booking made via the Council’s Booking Office. Bookings on the Ticketek website also attract transaction fees.

NOTE: Promoters decide the price, and the range and categories of the tickets for sale. Sometimes a promoter requests that A and B reserve seating be offered. This simply reflects the location and desirability of the seating, in relation to the stage, and the sight lines. Seating reserve information is provided to the booking office by the promoter at the time that tickets go on sale. The Council’s Booking Office staff will advise customers about any A and B reserve ticket sales when you are purchasing tickets.

You will be asked for some personal information when you purchase tickets, such as your name, email address and contact phone number. This information is used to contact you in the event of a cancellation or change to the show.


Hiring the theatre

The Civic Theatre complex has a range of areas for hire and is ideally placed within a few minutes walking distance from most inner city accommodation,

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Civic Theatre function menus

Interested in planning a function at Invercargill’s Civic Theatre complex? This page contains links to the wide range of menus – and to the bar and wine lists.

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Civic Theatre transformation

Experts ensure ensure historic elements as the complex becomes a state-of-the-art performance centre – with unique Edwardian-style features.

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Civic Theatre Photo Gallery

Cats Alice In Wonderland Southland Entertainment Awards Sound Check  

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