Well it seems as though yesterday’s announcement that NZTA had lodged the notices of requirement for the future cross-harbour tunnels was no co-incidence, as today the previously mentioned ANZAC Bridge idea is going to be unveiled. As shown below, the ANZAC Bridge is not only a new bridge, it’s also a replacement for the existing bridge rather than in addition to it.

Buses, trains, pedestrians and cars would all use this new bridge, we would demolish the existing harbour bridge and (theoretically at least) use money gained from redeveloping the land used by the motorway through St Mary’s Bay to help pay for the crossing. So let’s look at what I think the advantages and disadvantages of the bridge option are:


1) It’s cheaper – around $2 billion compared to around $4 billion for the tunnels idea. Operating costs of a bridge are also less than a tunnel.

2) Suspension bridges look really cool.

3) The city could “take back” the St Mary’s bay foreshore.

4) It would be a shorter route for vehicles (from Tank Farm across to Northcote Point) than the current route.


1) It would have a pretty enormous impact on the part of the CBD where it “landed” at its southern end. This could potentially ruin Westhaven Marina, Tank Farm and/or Victoria Park.

2) By it being a replacement for the existing bridge, the end result would be that you still only have one crossing of the harbour. One of the main benefits of another harbour crossing is that you have just that – another crossing. This adds redundancy in the case of something going terribly wrong with the bridge.

3) It’s going to be damn difficult getting a railway line from Britomart (8 metres below sea level) up to the bridge (say 20m above sea level) without being incredibly disruptive and ugly.

4) Ngati Whatua (Auckland’s most prominent iwi) might well have some to say about the reclaimed land around St Mary’s Bay simply being sold off. Under the Public Works Act if NZTA are no longer using it for motorways then they would have to “offer it back” to its original owner. Depending on the outcome of Foreshore and Seabed legislation changes, this could well be Ngati Whatua.

5) The tunnel option splits traffic travelling to the city (which would use the existing bridge) from traffic travelling through the city (which would use the tunnels). I reckon this is a good thing, and having only one crossing would remove this gain.

Overall, I think the tunnel option makes more sense. Although I question how absolutely necessary it is any time soon.

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  1. Since the shipping requirements are minimal for the upper harbour (only ferries should be able to pass under it), the new bridge doesn’t need to be as high as the current one, which would cut down on cost and the gradient for the trains.
    If one can be really radical, why not build a causeway instead

    1. Not true. Navy (going to NZs largest ammunition storage) and cargo ships (to Chelsea Sugar works) both pass through!

  2. A week or two ago I re-read through all the information released when a potential project was announced and the plan is for light rail which doesn’t have heavy rail’s climbing issues…

  3. Tunnel solve more problems, however it would be typical of auckland if we settle for the half ass option because of price.

  4. Chelsea Sugar is and was the reason the bridge is built so high. It still is as well as large super yachts from up Henderson and Hobsonville way.

  5. The main reason the bridge was built high was the reservation at Te Atatu where it was mooted the port should be relocated to. You can still see this reserve quite clearly on any map.

    There is the Westharbour marina of course, plenty of yachts there that need a highish bridge to get under. I think it would be imprudent to seal off most of the harbour with a low level bridge.

  6. Yeah I agree that for numerous reasons if there was to be a new bridge, its height shouldn’t be too much lower than the current bridge. Anything else would potentially have problems in the longer term.

    While of course a port at Te Atatu isn’t going to ever happen, the NZ Defence Force has a depot at Kauri Point in Devonport, plus the Hobsonville area has massive development potential (plus its super-yacht businesses).

  7. I reckon if you were going to relocate the Port anywhere you could put it near Whitford or something like that. Then build a railway line to the port and pay for it by redeveloping current port land.

    That said, I don’t think the port is going anywhere anytime soon.

  8. The plan for the port replacement has been Marsden Point, near Whangarei for a long while now. This is because the port has very deepwater, so will not require massive dredging like is needed for any other ports to carry new container ships. The largest NZ can handle can carry 4000 containers (20ft or TEU), while the latest generation of ships can carry 14,000, and require much deeper channels.
    The real problem is getting the containers there from Auckland. Getting a new rail line to Marsden, at a few hundred million dollars, is probably the easiest part. Even with 100’s of millions on the NAL, will be unlikely to handle alot of the tonnage. Also no freights will be able to operate in Auck urban area between about 6am and 8pm because we really want (and need) high frequency services all day.
    So the best we can hope for is for Auckland to be downgraded to a coastal shipping port, feeding containers to Marsden, that will hopefully use a lot less land because containers wont need to be stored for any real periods of time.

  9. There is a reserve called Puhinui Reserve for a port just next to the Auckland international airport, this would require dredging of the Manukau harbour but I think it is a good spot, very close to the rail line and both main motorways, next to the airport which would be a boon for logistics companies, and close to the industrial areas of south Auckland. Plus freight from down country wouldn’t have to pass through much of the city (or the CBD!) to get there.

  10. Hmmm, I think a lobbying of Steven Joyce and Darren Hugehs for a Royal Commission on the subject may be in order…

  11. There was and probably still is a plan to run a rail line from Whangarai to Marsden Point. This was to enable log exports to be diverted to Marsden from the current location at Whangarai. I assume the intention is to take a diversion of the rail line that runs to Auckland and off course would make freighting containers to Auckland as easy as. With the further completion of the rail link from Avondale to Southdown which on the face of it not a very big task, shipping traffic through the ports of Auckland could be reduced considerably. This all of course hinges on the economics for the shipping companies. Is it cost effective to build a container terminal at Marsden, rail to Southdown or Ship to Auckland and rail to Southdown?

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