We know that Auckland has some amazing natural beauty with the harbours, volcanoes and ranges but the one area that really lets it down is the urban environment. Things are slowly starting to improve – although there is still a long way to go.ย As such I want to start a new feature on the blog and the intention is that most days there will be one or more pictures highlighting an urban scene within Auckland, some will be good and some might not be so good.

I would also love for you to get involved too, if you’re a photographer or capture some interesting photos then send them to me.

To kick off here are a few photos, these ones are by Sydney and are copyrighted

Park, Motorway and Heritage building all in one.
Walkway with a great view for those inside but that blocks the view for pedestrians on Lower Albert St
The img-responsiveold img-responsivetracks img-responsivehave img-responsivebeen img-responsiveretained img-responsiveat img-responsiveWynyard
Zurich House, an office building without a single basement carpark
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56 comments

  1. That Reynolds guy gets some good pics but he seems to have gone walkabout ๐Ÿ™‚

    Every time I go past the Birdcage I look at that expanse of concrete and think ‘what a waste of space’. Surely we can do something nicer than concrete (which of course as Sydney has detailed in the past, attracts cars)? Planters? Seats? A garden?

  2. You cant have a city without cars, motorways, and concrete. I hope this thread becomes a celebration of the nice parts of Auckland rather than just another moan about cars. The new extension to the Art Gallery has just been voted the best new building in the world and it sits next to the wonderful but seldom used Albert park. I think we would all be happier if we focused on the positives and just accepted that cars are part of any city. For the person celebrating buildings without car parks I would suggest moving to a rural location but I find it ridiculous that you can be allowed to build an office building without providing off street parking.

      1. Yeah had to laugh at that comment – and the shock horror of a buildings without carparks. It’s shocking to think people could possibly, or even want to, arrive to work by another means.

    1. Well Fotzie I’m currently in London, and given that I’ve not gone any further out than Stoke Newington, I have not seen a single motorway and cars are a whole lot rarer here than they used to be when I lived here last century. Of course you can’t move without falling into a Crossrail hole and the streets are almost entirely the domain of bikes buses and black cabs.

      And the place is booming; I’ve never seen so many cranes on the skyline. No doubt you would consider the policies here to be ‘anti-car’, because, well. They are. And what a huge improvement this city now is. The amount of cycling is amazing, lots of areas that used to be very scummy are now clean and fresh. And valuable.

      Same issues as Ak but on a different scale. Buses need more street privilege, are a difficult mix with the bikes, and as it improves housing affordability keeps being a problem as more and more want to be here. Successful planning and investment breeds more success and more investment:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432940/Kings-Cross-Square–550-million-revamp-unveiled-Boris-Johnson-Londons-busiest-train-stations.html

      Cars are part of cities, but Auckland gives way way way too much of itself to the car, to everyone’s detriment. It’s just a question of balance. And we’re way out of whack, but the great news is that just with an intelligent and rational flip of investment policies from here on we can get the balance back to a better place. No need for people to react emotionally about this, cars don’t have feelings and won’t be upset….

    2. Stuff the rules.

      You are talking absolute shit.

      Albert park is used daily by hundreds of students and residents of the city. No one on this blog is anti-car, we are for efficient transport. How about you get out from under your bridge, go overseas and see what a pleasant environment a city can actually be?

  3. Please tell me where in the post it attacks car ownership. The only mention of cars is that the Zurich House doesn’t have any car parking but that isn’t an attack on cars.

    1. “but the one area that really lets it down is the urban environment”

      Can you tell us what parts of the urban environment really let Auckland down?

          1. As as driver these streets are great, your have ultimate priority, there’s no one waling or cycling getting in your way. It’s nice and straight and all traffic flows in the same way. However, try and navigate those streets any other way and it’s quite an unpleasent experience. For me those areas are so unpleasant to be in as a pedestrian that despite living just off Queen Street I never pass through them except when in a car. That really is a telling feature of a city when there are roads that actually repel people, rather than inviting them in.

          2. Maybe don’t live just off Queen street if these things bother you so much. Other people seem to manage to the point where it’s probably a made up issue.

          3. KBilly, are you trolling? You’re not replying in a way that creates constructive discussion.

            As somebody who also lives in the city, I think that there are enough places around and near Queen St that are nice to walk in that justifies living here, in particular the Waterfront, the Domain and Parnell, and the area bounded by Queen and Symonds St (though minor improvements are always possible). I do tend to avoid certain parts that are just unpleasant to walk through, though, such as the roads mentioned above. I disagree that it’s a made-up issue.

          4. I guess it must really scare you that there are people living in the city who have a vision for a city that is enjoyable to walk and cycle in? But don’t worry, 99% of Auckland is designed just for you. If you find people like me so repugnant and scary then you’d better start planning to avoid passing through the city except on the motorway because I’m afraid the days of an innercity devoted solely to expediating your trip through it in a car are slowly but surely drawing to an end. Although I’m quite sure you never really wanted an answer, the reason I live in the innercity is because I enjoy living somewhere where I can walk, cycle and use PT for more or less everything I want to do and I enjoy the interacting people that live around me. As S says below, there are many pleasant and enjoyable areas of Auckland to be as a pedestrian. Without the recent improvements to innercity life in Auckland, or if Auckland was merely repetitions of Botany Downs then I would have never considered moving back here. In the US there’s a race to the top, which city can be the most cycle and pedestrian friendly, unlike many Aucklanders there’s a real realisation there than the only way to attract talented, educated people to stay or to consider moving there, there has to be more than strip malls and unpleasant car dominated roads.

          5. Obviously the congestion on the NW motorway is a made up issue as most people can avoid it, and same with safety on SH1 north, and the need for periphery dwellings.

            We have a downtown area that repels customers, how the hell is that not an issue.

          6. No, like you said enough people manage tpo avoid it that it obviously isn’t a problem. There are only like 18,000 a day dealing with any one section of it so it can’t be a problem.

          7. As a regular user of the NW’n motorway (I live in Te Atatu), I can tell you now that it is congested for 4+hours of the day. Even worse when the sun is low in the West or early morning sun. People ‘deal with it’ because they do not have a realistic alternative. I do everything I can to avoid the peak times but most people don’t have the luxury of early start / late finish times that I generally have.

          8. If there is no congestion as you say, then there is no need for a NW busway. I can tell you right now that there is definitely a need for a NW busway. The congestion not only affects the motorway but the main arterials that lead to the motorway. Get out here and try it.

          9. Sorry Bryce, was initially responding to KBilly, and responded to your last reply as if it were frok KBilly my mistake. I was attempting to demonstrate the insanity of his logic.

  4. Matt, I am referring to the comments (particularly Patricks) Lets have a challenge. See how long this thread can go without anyone mentioning cars. My guess is no one on the transport blog can resist mention of their pet hate ๐Ÿ™

    Another wonderful part of Auckland is Myers Park.

    1. Forzen – the title of this blog is Auckland Transport blog – it’s not a photo blog, if you want to avoid any discussion of cars and just want pretty photos I’d suggest you go elsewhere. Until then don’t start attempting to lay down rules as to what people can and can’t talk about on this site.

  5. You see, it couldn’t last one post ๐Ÿ™

    Surely a ‘Transport’ blog should be able to look at all means of transport equally and with balance. This blog just seems to be the pro cycling, bro train blog and hates cars and motorways. When I read this post I was hoping this might be a rare thread where we could all celebrate the nice parts of Auckland, through photographs, Matt did write “I would also love for you to get involved too, if youโ€™re a photographer or capture some interesting photos then send them to me”.

    I am interested in transport in and around Auckland. I am in favour of the CRL, Skypath, and pedestrianising Queen Street. However I also see the need for investment in roads which means a new harbour crossing and extending our motorways. As I have explained in the past. I come from Europe and have experienced living in Austria, London, and rural England. Some of what you people write is good and informative but other comments are proof to me of how naive and innocent many Kiwis are. If you leave these beautiful and now named Islands (I can not imagine why you would want too) and actually lived in dense urban cities of Europe, Asia, and the Americas you would realise how child like some of your posts sound. Density may sound like affordable housing to you but the reality is usually something very different. Most people that live in apartments or terraced housing would give their right arm for a home with the Kiwi back yard. Try explaining to a Brazilian living in a Favala how you want to swap urban sprawl for dense city living. He will laugh at you while he steals your watch.

    Patrick mentions Stoke Newington so I thought it would be revealing to post this youtube video of what Stoke Newington was like not so long ago. Is this the sort of city you want Auckland to become after you have intensified the CBD with ‘affordable’ housing?

    1. FS, so you lived in Austria, right? I am from there and Vienna is way different in terms of urban life and transport. But what really surprises me, is your nickname. I guess you know what it means? In any German Blog or Forum You Would be blocked. I do not want to translate it as it is very offensive. For the curious translate it in google translator, but make sure no Kids are around.

        1. Thx Andrew, i just followed up the comments on the other article. He tries to make an excuse what does not make the nick any better. ๐Ÿ™

    2. FS please change your name (and preferably use your real name). All subsequent comments under this name will be deleted.

    3. I guess Mr Arschlecker is another colourblind troll that refuses to see any difference between wanting to move away from auto dependence and prioritising private vehicle movement and parking, and “hating cars cos we’re car haters”.

      I think it is the true mark of a troll that they can only talk in emotive terms, and can’t help but make prejudiced remarks. I wonder if he has ever been to a favela in Brazil and spoken with the people who live there? I have, they’re not likely to steal your watch, no more that an Austrian is likely to become a anti-semitic genocide at least.

      I’ve lived in dense urban cities in Latin America, Europe, and in the inner city of Melbourne. I used to be an autodependent suburban dweller until I lived overseas, and when I returned I chose to buy an apartment, walk and catch the bus in preference to commuting on a congested motorway to get to a lifeless office park, and jockeying for a parking space at the strip mall supermarket. Each unto their own I guess, but wanting more variety in the transport network and housing stock doesn’t mean bulldozing the city to build cold war era east European housing projects.

      Yes we are pro cycling, walking, PT, density. There is balance in that stance, because the city is already incredibly unbalanced against these things. Why would we need to advocate for more motorways, more parking, more low density edge sprawl when that is, apart from a few glimmers of hope, all this city has right now. More roads and sprawl won’t create balance, more of what is lacking will. Spending our time writing and commenting about new roads isn’t needed. There are plenty of other media platforms out there, arguably all others, that do that already. If you don’t like what people think don’t have to be part of this blog community, you can go off and start your own blog singing the praises of a third harbour crossing and extended motorways. You’d probably get lots of followers, but perhaps not the same quality of contribution and critique we see here.

      To say that everyone in Europe or wherever dreams of the kiwi lifestyle is also naive, or at least reflects a certain misguided understanding. It shows you don’t understand what the kiwi lifestyle is actually like for most people day to day. You quite obviously never grew up at the bottom of a right of way down the end of a cul de sac in a gully out the back of Glenfield. Hell I grew up on a suburban street that didn’t have footpaths installed until my late teens, not that there was anything more than a small reserve within walking distance anyway.

    4. I lived in Stoke Newington (aka the People’s Republic) between 2005 and 2008 and you couldn’t want for a better place to live in: it has a great sense of community; has any number of parks and open spaces; it’s close to the City and the West End; it’s proximate to the major mainline stations and now serviced by a couple of Overground lines as well as numerous bus routes. Thankfully, you don’t have to own a car to function; in fact it’s a redundant encumbrance. Yes, just as there are in other communities around the world, there are problem areas, but you are talking through a hole in your evidently thick head if you think what happened on one council estate during the recent riots is characteristic of the area. I guess the people who bought my tiny (rented) 3 bedroom terrace for ยฃ750,000 (at the time NZD 2million) were making the worst investment of their life, but strange as it may seem to you, they still don’t think so.

  6. Can’t we just get rid of this guy? I want to tell my colleagues how interesting this blog is but I am embarrassed to do so because of this commenter and his name (since most of my colleagues speak german).

    1. You are the one going on about cars. The other comments were fairly brief. Also, cars are relevant when discussing how to improve Auckland. Also, yes I have lived in terraced housing and apartments in the uk. I was over there when the riots happened, and yes it was awful, of course, but the same thing is not going to happen here if we build terraced housing. There were so many issues behind the riots that to say it’s just due to people living in close proximity is ridiculous.

  7. To me not the moving cars let the city down, the parked cars do so. See it all around the world. No one likes to be around where heaps of parked cars are. The parking buildings are typically appalling, and i actually only know Houston and Phoenix as more unpleasant as a result of this. Who wants to walk around or enjoy a city if every second building is just a car storage, and typically office towers have instead of shops and cafes in the ground level only the entrance and 3 levels of car parking. And as often mentioned here on the blog, losing car parks is not losing business. It,s actually quite funny because in Vienna there was recently a major shopping street converted to a pedestrian and shared space, of course also lot of discussion and argues about it. But that made me look up old stories from the 70ties when they made more or less a huge proportion of the inner city to pedestrian areas. The funny thing, same discussions as here in Auckland that no one will come to shop and all businesses will die. Reality, the inner city was and is booming. On weekends it is another form of congestion there, a pedestrian congestion.

    1. Indeed, and thankfully all the shared space conversions have finally convinced retailers that pedestrian priority creates all sorts of economic benefits for them. It’s funny how so many cities go through the same argument about how losing carparks will destroy all the businesses. I think Auckland has finally come to that realisation, and it’s really just a case of actually having a government that allows Auckland Transport to spend money on things other than road widening and motorway construction.

    2. Well said.
      It will be interesting to see what happens to the AT car park in Cross street, as post-CRL there will be a station entrance about 40m away. Imagine walking up out of K Rd station via the Mercury Lane entrance, expecting a vibrant city scene and finding… a car parking building…
      Trouble is it’s a custom designed building with a low stud- not easy to re-use it.

    3. As a sidenote, just considering that for each car in Auckland we probably have 3 or 4 time room to park them (as a result of minimum requirments etc). Just imagine what incredible waste of land, and in the days of soaring house prices maybe also worthwhile rethinking. If i just think of the size of a car, 1.6*4=6.4m2 and that taken by approx. 1 mil cars in Auckland that are 6.4 square kilometer, lot of land…. and that is just the space a car needs, nothing else calculated yet.

  8. KBilly,

    > Can you tell us what parts of the urban environment really let Auckland down?

    Where to begin?

    1) Buildings & frontage gutted for car storage:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/43830985529/deactivated-ponsonby-road-ponsonby
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/57585460882/window-shopping-tangihua-street-auckland
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/57401053620/to-scale-beach-road-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/45162851155/integrated-transport-hobson-street-auckland

    2) Street space filled with cars, usually parking (often illegally) at the cost of pedestrian/cycling space:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/56684984849/habit-fort-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/55841261860/setback-arranmore-drive-flat-bush
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/53168852216/save-our-views-karangahape-road-newton
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/50883923943/hold-the-line-galway-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/49749821925/tab-fanshawe-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/49155218835/cycle-spot-tamaki-drive-mission-bay
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/36785088698/space-invaders-melrose-street-newmarket

    3) Everything being scaled up to obnoxious, inhuman proportions (plus the brutalist aesthetic):

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/53411757414/see-and-be-seen-daldy-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/55230371107/green-man-kitchener-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/51698964637/writ-large-symonds-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/45471354586/the-long-and-the-huge-of-it-fanshawe-street
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/36899059607/stride-beach-road-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/45440851319/concrete-desert-gaunt-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/34278689960/brutal-reflections-federal-street-auckland

    4) Combustion exhaust, vehicle noise and traffic speed:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/41495599436/the-kiwi-experience-victoria-street-auckland
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/35386568294/exhausted-queen-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/43953227802/preparation-ian-mckinnon-drive-eden-terrace

    5) Hostile intersections for people, by design:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/54485375371/fall-out-albert-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/45806434857/ringside-fanshawe-street-auckland-central-the
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/47516872136/artery-balmoral-road-mount-eden
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/57676370954/crossing-guard-grafton-road-grafton
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/35892170052/othering-hobson-street-auckland-central

    6) Crap walking, cycling and mobility due to severance, poor surface treatment, and absurd geometries & scales:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/27308203860/access-haslett-street-eden-terrace
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/56393046952/yoke-galway-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/48394124903/exoskeleton-newton-road-newton
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/25628350915/begins-and-ends-symonds-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/51262315232/marginalia-park-road-grafton

    7) Motoring junk littering public space:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/54314722966/flake-queen-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/47758128258/greenway-grafton-road-grafton
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/45240325233/displace-high-street-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/49831617626/moustache-newton-road-newton

    8) Just plain old trash:

    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/53332438002/business-as-usual-abbey-street-newton-just
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/52031273404/abatis-fort-lane-auckland-central
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/48177773693/transport-for-auckland-queen-street-auckland
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/32478259545/21-bin-salute-mercury-lane-newton
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/30609391673/walk-on-edinburgh-street-newton
    http://bythemotorway.tumblr.com/post/28607021270/walk-this-way-high-street-auckland-central

    All these things make living, working and playing in close proximity to other people difficult and unpleasant, as well as weakening the effectiveness of public transport and walking & cycling. This robs us of the benefits of density, and that’s what lets Aucklan down.

    1. Great list. Anyone who can’t see that Auckland is a place that is greatly reduced by decades of car-centric policies needs to do some travelling and open their eyes.

      It’s not complicated and it is fixable.

    1. KBilly,

      We did “harden up”. That’s why we still live here.

      What we want is to make things better. We want kids to play safely in the streets. We want to be able to hold a conversation with friends and neighbours on the way to the shops, even when we are old. We want to not ruin the environment further for future generations. We want to encourage commerce and lift the inequitable economic burden of inefficient, privatised transport. We want to be healthy, live longer and just enjoy getting around Auckland.

      Don’t you want these things too?

  9. One thing I’m noticing here is the kiwi thing of saying ‘what are you moaning about mate, everything’s alright’ I think expressed by KBilly, and no disrepect to you because we all have our opinions. I don’t think this helps us progress as a nation, we can be a complacent lot as a country. The brits have a bit of a reputation for complaining about things they don’t think are right and look at their economic development compared to ours (population helps). I think you have to have some arguement against the status quo to get improvements in quality of life for people, including on transport options.

  10. Unfortunately the Downtown Shopping Centre walkway (shown in the second photo) has taped off the bottom half of those windows with dark tape. Quite a few of the windows were broken/cracked, so presumably it’s for safety reasons and hopefully is just a temporary fix.

    Enjoying the blog by the way. I moved to Auckland earlier this year after 14 years in London owing to family circumstances, and am finding settling in here difficult. Lack of functional PT is a huge part of it, as is central Auckland just generally being an unpleasant place to linger/be a pedestrian – few well thought out public parks or smaller public gardens set away from traffic, traffic roaring past all the time, extreme over-reliance on buses (nothing more frustrating to a commuter than being stuck in a traffic jam on a bus, especially if it is your only regularly serviced PT option from your neighbourhood), the city wanting to be a ‘super city’ and the world’s most ‘livable’ city, but not wanting the higher intensity housing and spread of PT which comes with the majority of ‘livable’ cities. Gah!

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