Fantastic aerials of the the biggest urban motorway junction in Australasia under construction. From the Whites Aviation collection at the National Library:

1968, Dominion Rd flyover in the foreground

Auckland City used to just flow into its surrounding inner suburbs. Weirdly, as seen above they started with arguably the daftest part of the whole plan: The massively over engineered Dominion Rd/New North Rd flyover. Some engineer was allowed to get more that a little carried away that day. Ah: Brave New World.

1966. Newton. George Courts on K'd on the Left

Site clearance already beginning; anticipating SH1 being shoved right through town. You can see why K’Rd was such a successful shopping precinct; direct connection with its community. Plus of course being at the heart of the well used tram network.

1967. Domion Rd flyovers, looking west

Unusual view. Western Line on the left. Easy to see how out of scale the Dom Rd flyover is, and needlessly complicated. The scar of the pointless destruction of community that is to become dumb little mini-me motorway of Ian McKinnion Drive on the right.

1969. Symonds St in centre. work starting on SH1 through the city

Work begins. Check out the on-street parking. They’ve got to go somewhere if this is the mode you invest in. A big additional but uncalculated cost of the auto-dependent choice.

Not sure of the date 1970s. The full CMJ sandpit.

Fantastic print. Whites clearly invested in some better kit by this stage. A Hasselblad maybe; looks like it could be the great 40mm Distagon, or possibly the 38mm Biogon on the SWC, developed by Zeiss and Hasselblad as an aerial reconnaissance camera for the Luftwaffe in the 1940s! [A fact you don’t see in their advertising]. And still great. Happy to be corrected, if anyone knows. Forgive me for indulging my inner camera nerd.

CMJ, with gardening

Severance at its best; no way across to K’rd now, hey guess what?, it’s never recovered commercially.

CMJ_lost street pattern
1950s "Master Transport Focal Point"

And how they sold it. Doesn’t look like much does it? A few little lines, nothing that’ll totally cut the CBD from its inner suburbs and nearly kill it for example. The text talks of tunnels. Yeah well that would have been much better, human life could have continued so much better if the surface hadn’t been reduced to a few car dominated bridges.

A fine monument to central planning. South Seas Soviet style. This whole effort was planned and built by government apparatchiks in Wellington immune to any input from the locals, including the local elected officials.

Well there you go: How modern Auckland was made by a city engineer with the phrase: “It’s a technical matter”. Never let the pricks get away with that one again.

Edit: Just added the accreditation for the photos

  1. Auckland motorways, Dominion Road interchange. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-67442-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  2. Newton, Auckland with motorway construction on right of Grafton Bridge. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-66170-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  3. Auckland City, including Southern Motorway and Eden Crescent. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-67026-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  4. Motorway junction, Symonds Street, Auckland. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-68574-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  5. Auckland motorway construction, Newton, with ‘spaghetti junction’ roads. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-74702-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
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  1. That small photo towards the bottom, Patrick, with the caption CMJ, with gardening, that looks such a disgusting mess. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Looks like the planners wanted to put it underground (mostly by “cut and cover” passes in the text in the last picture).

    But the usual “we’re short of money” and “its better to have something than nothing” – “so lets only do the cut and not the cover” seems to have won the day. Whether that was the planning apparatchiks or the Ministry of Motorway Finance at fault is probably a moot point now.

    And the sad thing – I don’t see that the AT planners would be able to take a different approach now if they wanted cut and cover tunnels to put the CMJ through now.

    If they did have clout would we have Manukau station, southern link missing, no CRL nor even the likelihood of one anytime soon?

  3. Just imagine what that land would be worth today. Also as part of adding the accreditation for the last photo I found its date at March 1979.

    Here are a few other great shots of the area:
    Mountain Rd and Auckland Grammer in the bottom left from 1964

    Mountain Road, Auckland, motorway route. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-63131-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

    The location of the Dominion Rd/New North Rd interchange (Dominion Rd comes up from the bottom), you can see all of the area now covered by the CMJ at the top of the image from Nov 1963

    Dominion Road interchange, Auckland, motorway route. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-61047-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

  4. Good visual description of the difference between how intrusive a rail line is compared to a major road. Especially when you consider that two tracks carry the equivalent of ten motorway lanes….. imagine how much better Auckland would be if we’ed been allowed to decide like Vancouver did to not destroy the inner suburbs and invest in transit instead?

    1. I get the feeling it would be something like a mix between Grey Lynn and Sydney’s Paddington.

      Well there’s only one thing for it, lets build the underground rail stations at K Rd and Newton, and use the land value uplift to promote capping over the motorway junction and reintroducing the street network and buildings.

      1. Good thinking Nick. But of course, in a classic Catch-22 the very presence of the motorway has lowered the surrounding land values which makes the math of capping it Perth-style look like a poor return. Until it’s done of course. Catch-22.

        For another angle, there was of course response to this work at the time, I was a kid but I do just remember this in the circles my parents moved: here are some visual art responses at the Auckland Art Gallery site:

  5. Yuck.
    Very depressing to see what we’ve lost. for a mess of a motorway interchange and Ian McKinnon Drive!! Ughh!

  6. Curious how “biggest motorway junction in Australasia” is justified? Not doubting, just curious, because Sydney and Melbourne are not at all averse to their major motorways, as befits their populations.

    1. Found a bigger interchange elsewhere? Anyway AK has never been anywhere near the biggest city in Australasia, it’s just shorthand for how this is a megalomaniacal attempt at solving everything in one place but it not only got out of hand and had a whole lot of (I hope) unintended negative consequences.

      1. You don’t get to play those cards, sorry. You saying it means it’s your job to know the truth. It’s not a “shorthand” for anything, it’s hyperbole that isn’t obviously such. Either put up proof, or stop saying it.

        Is it excessive? Yes. Is it ugly? Yes. Is it the biggest in Australasia? You actually have no firm proof that it is or isn’t but you keep on saying it like you do. Then you wonder why I go at you for giving PT advocates a bad name. Stick to the verifiable truth, please, because the antis will happily point to such misstatements as a way to dismiss anything else you have to say. “It’s not even the biggest junction, so why should we listen to the rest of his argument?”

        1. It’s certainly the largest I can find across any of the capitals, in terms of the number of lanes/ramps/structure that is. There are big stack style interchanges in the likes of western Sydney that cover more area but thats not quite what Patrick is getting at I think.

          Certainly it’s the largest inner urban motorway interchange in Australasia… but how about we settle for “the most invasive and city dominating interchange in Australasia” instead.

        2. “but how about we settle for “the most invasive and city dominating interchange in Australasia” ”

          Large is ambiguous. I’d be happy with “most complex”. It hurts my head even trying to follow the movements on a map or aerial image, and I have to watch the gantry signs carefully every time I drive through it because of the bizarre exit-only lanes and right-exit lanes and other non-standard features. The only motorway section that I’ve encountered in Australasia that challenges CMJ for complexity are the approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel and the interface with the Eastern and Western Distributors.

          If you’re interested in strange junctions then this is worth a look:

        3. Oh that site is funny, wow we are badly stuck in the auto-age aren’t we?

          OK I had a look at that junction out of Sydney and really that’s not apples with apples; that thing can all of god’s sweet time to connect as it is in the country-side, the landuse issues are completely different. I’m sorry if I didn’t get a QC to go over my post before putting it up, but I am talking about Urban infrastructure here.

        4. right-exit lanes

          Obi, it’s been how long since you drove through the CMJ? There haven’t been any right-exit lanes for several years.

        5. “There haven’t been any right-exit lanes for several years.”

          You could be right… Like I said, I’m always confused driving through the thing.

          But, how about SH16 eastbound. It splits in to north bound and south bound directions. The north bound direction then has a right exit to Nelson St. The south bound direction has a right exit to Grafton while the prevailing flow is to join SH1 south, altho that is a debatable example since Grafton is also signed SH16. However, the merge to SH1 south is from the right rather than the left of SH1.

          Ignore this if it has all changed and I’ve just not noticed… I’m generally oblivious to most things happening around me, and I’m a weekend driver rather than a commuter.

        6. Yes, the NW continues to separate to the left and the right, but that’s full separation not just exits off the prevailing flow. When you say “right-exits”, I take you to mean the old Nelson St exit from the north-bound lanes of the Southern Motorway where the exit left the prevailing flow from the right-most lane and it wasn’t just splitting the lane off from the prevailing flow.

          It’s impossible to terminate a motorway into other motorways without the right-hand lane(s) going somewhere, and the NW ceases to exist as it flows into the Northern and Southern motorways.

        7. Really Matt? I am still not aware of a bigger interchange in Australasia, especially anything like it in such an urban situation. And frankly, as to card playing, you sure you aren’t just over-playing your hand a little there….?

    2. Might have been true at one time, but I think the Light Horse interchange M4/M7 in Sydney is bigger and uglier. Can’t think of a bigger one in Melbourne though.

    3. I’m pretty sure it is the biggest motorway interchange in Australasia.

      If we count CMJ as being from Wellington St in the north to Grafton Rd in the south, Newton Road in the west to Stanley Street in the east we have:

      – Motorway to motorway ramps in all directions between SH16 and SH1
      – SH16 & SH1 on/off ramps to Nelson/Hobson
      – SH16 ramps to/from Newton Rd
      – Wellesley Street ramps in Grafton Gully to both SH16 & SH1
      – Symonds Street ramps to SH1

      I’ve probably missed something in there too.

    4. Ok to try and settle this debate I have just used an online tool to work of the CMJ and the size of that M4/M7 interchange and they are both about the same size at 115 acres. Interestingly though the perimeter of the CMJ is almost 60% longer than that of the M4/M7 interchange and it appears to have much less unused land. Also I took the CMJ as being from Wellington St in the North West, From Newton Rd in the South West, from Stanly St in the North East and from where Symonds St and the port links join in the South East however there is possibly an argument that the CMJ actually starts at Gillies in which case it would be considerably larger.

      1. To add to that there are far more options available in the CMJ compared to the M4/M7 interchange.
        From SH16 you have 4 options, North, City, South or Port
        From North you have 3, SH16, Port or South
        From South you have 4, Symonds St, Port, SH16, City or North
        From Port you have 3, South, SH16, North
        From City you have 2, SH16 or South (unless Wellington St reopens)
        Heading down to the port there is options for Wellesley St or carrying on straight ahead.
        There is also an onramp at Symonds St

        All up at least 19 route options in the mix vs 12 for the M4/M7 interchange which has 12, 3 from each direction.

        1. Why don’t the Wallgrove Rd options count at the M4/M7? I guess if you remove traffic light options, that only adds 4 (all left turns). Which would leave the CMJ (really two junctions) still ahead.

          If it is ahead, it isn’t by that large a margin. What is impressive about it, is just how close it is to the CBD. And the double deck bit towards the Harbour Bridge.

  7. Thanks for those photos. Very depressing to see what’s been inflicted on Auckland. I wonder what the $ cost of the CMJ is in todays dollars? It would interesting to estimate what the opportunity cost to Auckland’s PT network has been.

    1. Don’t forget the direct economic costs from the destroyed businesses and foregone land values, the massive additional consumption of imported petroleum products, and the social costs of divided neighbourhoods and health issues. There’s no way that the CMJ is anything other than a leviathan concrete tribute to uncaptured externalities.

        1. Completely agree with those sentiments there. I was sort thinking it would be interesting to know what has been the historic spend on the Auckland Motorway system (including Waterview), for example say it’s been 20 billion (2012 $) (a complete guess / random number) over 50 years. So that is on average ~400 million $ a year, if we assume that a similar level of transit spend will occur (or is available / or required to meet growth) for the next 50 years. I t would nice to expect that the bulk of this will be captured by Aucklands PT network – particularly as Patrick R has stated previously the motorway network is mature and pretty constrained – hence it could be expected that any additional spend on the motorway system will have ever decreasing benefits.

          The question of course will be how to ensure that the future transit spend, is spent as optimally as possible.

  8. Yes. many people are complaining about a lack of land for housing. Some of the land that is motorways would have helped this situation.

  9. Hmm, until now i didn’t appreciate how much digging was needed. I had thought that between K Rd and Newton was a valley originally, but it seems from the photos it was all mostly level! Even by todays standards this was a colossal project.
    What annoys me the most about the CMJ is that it totally encompasses the CBD on all sides completely. Boxing it into an area that has never been able to naturally spread. Although I suppose you could say it has helped keep the CBD higher density that it might otherwise naturally have been.

  10. Interesting to compare this with Wellington over much the same time period, if on a much smaller scale. There, the motorway went through Thorndon rather than the waterfront, and ended up extending a lot of planning blight into the Te Aro area (very similar in culture to the area around K’Road, even today).

    The public transport option which was never proceeded with, would have been an underground through to Newtown, about a mile south of the Basin Reserve, and perhaps out to the airport. This was certainly discussed in the early 1960s. Ah, lost opportunities.

  11. An aside, but there’s a brilliant book about Whites Aviation. Not sure why the first photos are of that quality; what I’ve seen from the late 1940s onwards is excellent.

  12. Heres some interesting info on the Motorway construction, which shows not all the Motorway was done as badly as the CMJ.

    If you look at the design of the Southern Motorway between Khyber Pass Road and Penrose you will see that the Motorway runs pretty much alongside the existing rail corridor.

    While having a motorway next door is not pleasant, the designers at least kept all the existing cross-rail roads in place when they put the motorway through beside the rail.

    Yes, the motorway causes severance, but the rail did that before the motorway came along.
    Example of roads where severance was not made worse (B=Bridge over Mway, U=Underpass under Mway) include Khyber Pass Road (U) Mountain Road (B), Almorah Road (U), Gillies Ave (U), Broadway (U), St Marks Road (U), Market Road (B) (all Newmarket area).

    South of that you have Omahu road (B), Greenlane Road (B), the two roads under the motorway by Ellerslie race course (U), Main Highway (B), EP Highway (B), Penrose Road (B).

    Of course, further south of this part the rail and motorway diverge so there was no existing severance, so the motorway made it worse (or in some case, there were no suburbs there yet but it being there created a future severance.

    And north of Khyber Pass Road the severance became extreme, and thats the part they should have cut and covered as planned.

    I also found out by looking at other old Whites Aviation photos of the Motorway build process that originally the Southern Motorway originally ended at the EP roundabout (the on/off ramps that link to Great South Road were the end/beginning of the motorway while EP the circular rounadabout was built this was in 62.
    By mid/late 64 the motorway built to Greenlane. After then it had to wait for the Newmarket viaduct and works north to complete (which took until the late 60’s in some parts).
    Even then the Southern motorway went into the City but terminated at Symonds street (on and off ramps) where the current “off ramps” meet Symonds Street.
    There was a exit down Grafton Gully too. In a way its a pity they didn’t stop there.

    I also note that the plan in the 50s master plan shows the main city motorway access was to be via Grafton Gully with the present gully under K’Rd only intended as two lane each way (tunnelled under KRd) roads primarily linking the Harbour Bridge to the western motorway.
    Even that would be better than the current CMJ. Maybe not so efficient for cars/trucks but better for people.

    Even better if they had put it all underground though.

    1. Yes I agree with your point to some extent about severance but not fully for two reasons:
      1. a rail line is so very easily bridged compared to an eight lane freeway; motorway severance is, excuse the pun, more severe.
      2. the motorway very actively severs the railway stations from their community; it is very unappealing to walk across car dominated wind swept bridges or urine soaked underpasses compared with accessing the same destination via a bunch of local shops or quiet residential streets. So what may seem to make sense; running them together, actually is part of the problem unless very active steps are made, a lá Perth, to connect those motorway train stations to their community, especially with tightly integrated bus feeder stations on those cross bridges.

      1. Patrick,
        You are right, severance is not a good thing, but anything be it a rail line or a motorway puts in a bigger psychological barrier than probably any physical one could.

        I’d also add that if railways are so easy to bridge or go under, how come the Eastern railway between Purewa and Panmure has exactly 3 crossings all of which were there as luck (or bad luck) would have it as existing roads, well before the railway was built (these are not counting St Johns “ridge” which the St Johns rail tunnel goes through), Merton Road, Morrin Road and Mountain Road).
        [I say from Purewa to Panmure, as this is the “land” part of the Eastern rail line which could be bridged over or under easily].

        If adding more crossings is so easy why would they not have been added over/under this line?

        The GI/St Johns/Panmure/Tamaki area as that is one area that could have done (and still could today, do ) with removal of the severance the railway has caused, to help build a more cohesive community.
        As it stands there is none, in part due to the railway, and the lack of crossings means that there is no free flow of traffic in the area – it either flows north via the St Johns ridge and then into Kohi/Kepa roads or onto Remuera Road via St Johns roads, or it goes south towards Panmure, with a single crossing in the middle near GI at Merton Road, which ends up acting like a funnel for traffic (incidentally it this funnel into which they want to dump the northbound past Panmure AMETI traffic).

        Yes you could add some crossings now, and the AMETI plan calls for adding a road crossing over the railway at Tamaki to Pilkington (which is going to be a 4 lane road bridge from memory).

        But its kind of sad to think that the reason we have the crossings we have now is due to the way that the farmers out in that part of town road their horses or drove their carts from A to B, causing some tracks to form, which ended up causing the few roads that existed to be built and which resulted in even fewer of those tracks crossing the line of the railway when they put that through so that the railway builders never put the crossings in.

        Part of it was due to the old Mt Wellington Borough Council which was really the Panmure part and the rest was Auckland City.
        I suspect the traffic/rail planners did a bit of divide and conquer between those two by where they put the railway in.

        On the Southern Motorway:

        Agreed that say Broadway, St Marks road or Gillies Ave under the motorway are not the most pleasant places to be (having walked up and around these parts of Newmarket for years), “a urine soaked hell-hole” – definitely not. [“a pee pee soaked heck hole” – to quote Chief Wiggum from the Simpsons, yeah possibly, but couldn’t smell the urine over the car fumes].

        But these parts of Newmarket were traffic nightmares and for Broadway/St Marks roads, pretty industrial in nature before the viaduct went overhead and they became on/off ramps. Gillies would have however remained a nice street without the motorway most likely.

        For parts further south, yeah Market Road, Omahu Road and Greenlane roads are not good areas to be, but thats more to do with the traffic being made to funnel over those crossings – mostly being that there are so few of those crossings even when just the railway existed.

        They also were not nice places to be even when they crossed just the railway lines (albeit the walk over them was shorter as you only crossed two rail lines not 6 lanes of motorway). As you had no proper seperation of pedestrian and car.

        And there were other design issues, still evident today in how the traffic planning was done.

        For example, while trams ran down Gt South Road and Remuera roads, I doubt they did any “cross” linkages between those roads, just like the buses don’t now – one of the few that does is the 007 bus from GI to Pt Chev.

        So as the suburbs of Meadowbank, Tamaki all expanded out into the previously “vacant” farm lands – was there any PT brought in to encourage their continued use of PT? I don’t think so.

        So it could be seen that even before the motorways went in Auckland was already having to “live the dream” of car domination to get the places it needed to go – even if that place was into the city of the new factories further out.
        Indeed looking at old photos you are struck by how many cars there were on the road, yes you see trams, but no buses to talk of, just trams and lots and lots of cars.

        The motorways just made that existing car addiction more severe. Probably in part helped since as the trams didn’t go everywhere so the Auckland residents were already half sold on the idea of personal transportation as a way to overcome the poor PT planning that existed post-war even then. So adding more and better “Motorways” to get from A to B just seemed a natural extension of “living in the future” to the planners and residents of the 1950s and 1960s.

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