While looking through some photos the other day I was once again reminded of one of the things Auckland lost Рa bush clad Grafton Gully. How fantastic would it be to still have a patch of urban native bush like this so close to the city. Instead we ploughed a motorway junction through here.

12 Dec 1947 – Grafton Bridge, Auckland. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-11630-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22732188
12 Dec 1947 – Grafton Bridge, Auckland. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-11627-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23009732
~1930 – Grafton Bridge, Auckland. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-62682-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22576984
11 Mar 1963 – Grafton Bridge, Auckland. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-59383-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22681630
Grafton Bridge - 1940 to 2010
Grafton Gully in 1940 and 2010

How the CMJ was originally sold.

Grafton Gully and Symonds St Tunnel Plan 1950s
Grafton Gully and Symonds St Tunnel Plan 1950s
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28 comments

  1. One great thing about the Grafton Gully cycleway is that it does allow people to enjoy what’s left – the first time I biked down there I was startled at how lush it felt. (And how many couches had been thrown down the gully.) I had never noticed the bush when driving through spaghetti junction.

  2. There is still some amazing bush down there. The council seems to be upgrading the bush walks in there at the moment and re-surfacing the paths in the cemetry. Can’t wait to explore this area in the summer.

  3. Forgive me, but … you support retaining bush yet also support the sort of development that allows people to cut down trees to put up yet more buildings? Consistency?

    1. “you support retaining bush yet also support the sort of development that allows people to cut down trees to put up yet more buildings?”
      Who is ‘you’?
      And as for cutting down trees, I assume you mean the green land on the edge of the city: so the answer is “NO”.
      And….. it’s obvious you don’t want to be forgiven so why say so?

        1. I agree it’s probably inevitable that some trees will get cut down somewhere, whether Auckland expands up or out. But the claim of inconsistency doesn’t add up (pun intended). The whole point of intensification in Auckland is to contain more growth within current built up areas so we don’t have to pave over bush and open spaces further and further away – entirely consistent to support retaining areas of mature bush, and intensification with some limited tree / open space loss in other parts of the city.

  4. A bizzare statement at end of caption for the lower image – “the latter has been in use for some time – well actually none of the white lines on the map were constructed before the late 1960s, most in the 70s and 80s with subsequent upgrades and mods, and of course the Dominion Road motorway was never built with the exception of the curious interchange with New North Road that will hopefully soon be demolished. Although the initial skinny link down Grafton Gully opened in the late 1960s, the motorway as we now know it opened in 2002. So not at all sure what the composer of the caption was on 60 odd years ago.

  5. Can anything think of a green space already in the vicinity of Grafton Gully which includes heaps of bush?

    Maybe we could call it the Auckland Domain?

    When your transport priority is driven by a hatred of one mode you get irrational posts like this.

  6. What is your point? That we have The Domain and thus other natural preserves or green spaces are unneeded and should be made into roads?

    Like most here, I suspect, my transit priority is driven by minimising negative impacts and promoting efficiency. Just because your chosen favourite transport method has many uncaptured negative externalities and inefficiencies that get complained about here doesn’t mean everyone is out to get you and your car.

  7. Meh. If we had kept the bush it would be full of rubbish, homeless people and rats, just like the current bush. Looks nice from afar but in really not very nice close up unless you rush through and try not to look too closely. Unless it is a well maintained park (Victoria/Albert/Meyers/Western), having a natural bush like that in the middle of the city is a terrible idea.

  8. What I do seriously want to see from the main posters of this blog is, if they were in total control for the last 50 (or 70) years what road connectivity would there be in Auckland? Presumably a harbour bridge and some way to get to it from the south? Would they move the port and if not how would road mode get to it? I think of this question every time there’s a post like this one. Please apply the same rigorous economic and practical analysis as you do to current proposals, eg, no suggesting a tunnel from Remuera under the CBD. You can’t just picture it gone – show us the alternative.

    PS I use PT to get to work, cross town – the mark of a true believer.

    1. Well I’m not a “main poster” but if we could start with a clean slate 70 years ago I might have built the western ring route but not the motorways into the city. European cities have inter-regional motorways and urban bypass motorways but generally do not have them as commuter roads into the heart of their historic city centres: that function is filled by railways, light rail and subways, with the result that millions of households do not own or need cars.

      Imagining Auckland with no harbour bridge except perhaps as a local road, with a tunnelled rail crossing, to me is a vision of pleasant, medium-density, suburbs on the shore linked by light rail lines to ferry terminals and heavy rail stations. Instead we got Albany, Wairau Road, Spaghetti Junction and gridlock.

      If a fraction of the money spent over the decades on roads had been spent on rail we would have not only a pleasant, walkable metropolis but also fast and frequent intercity and intraregional rail links, including to such places as Matamata, Morrinsville, Cambridge, Whakatane etc etc.

        1. The original motorway plan was for state highway 1 to basically follow the route of SH20 from Penrose to Pt Chev, then up the northwestern motorway and SH18 to cross over to Albany.
          That is why the northwestern was built first, it was intended to me the main (and only) motorway to the north.

          Access into the city was to be by great north and great south roads respectively, and the harbour bridge was designed for a similar role. It was supposed to be for trips between the north shore and the central area only, the state highway through traffic was intended to run on the motorway around the top of the harbour.

          The change came when the bridge agency became very concerned they wouldn’t have enough traffic to pay the required level of tolls if the highway was a bypass. The plans were changed to put the bypass motorway on the back burner and to push the main motorway through to the harbour bridge. This necessitated large motorway interchange in the city centre which they tied up with slum clearance (luckily they didn’t demolish all the slums, or we would have no Ponsonby or grey Lynn today!).

          Without the change to push motorways through the centre we would have ended up like Melbourne, motorways skirting the city and connecting to the hinterland, but not running through the CBD. People driving to the central area do so on arterial roads, and yes, that includes trucks. Melbournes port is far larger than ours and didn’t get a motorway link until the early 2000s.

          1. I guess the arterialization of urban main roads is better for the urban fabric. I guess. There are some darned ugly urban arterials in Australia. Victoria Rd Drummoyne in Sydney comes to mind.

            I think the demand line of commuting goes over the bridge. Surely most of the volume is commuting? And that would drive heavy arterialization through the city with corresponding lack of amenity on those routes – nelson-hobson-fanshawe are bad enough as it is, without motorways Quay to Nelson-Hobson becomes the arterial to the port. Not perfect, for sure.

          2. And there are some great atrerials too. Melbournes avenues and boulevards are fantastic streets. Melbourne widened its main roads into boulevards in the 1950s and 60s. We demolished swathes of the city for motorways, and widened our main roads into motorway feeders instead.

            Yes the volume of traffic on the bridge is mostly commuting, but it wouldn’t necessarily be if they hadn’t built the bridge and linked it through to the motorways as SH1. The fact they did build that infrastructure is what let people move to the north shore but still work in ellerslie or wherever. With different infrastructure the travel patterns would be different. We built big regional motorways through our city centre, and surprise surprise, we get a lot of through traffic on motorways through the city centre.

            On the topic of the port, it really isn’t a major driver of traffic. On The Strand leading to the port only 7% is truck traffic, the other 93% is just general car traffic.

            Interesting you bring up Nelson and Hobson, they used to be nice normal city streets, it’s the conversion to one way couplets to feed traffic off the motorway what screwed them up.

          3. Well Nick I think you are romanticizing arterials into boulevards…and Paris will disabuse you of the romantic ideal of boulevards, too. But anyway I see the idea you are suggesting.

          4. The thing is its easy to build good atrerials as boulevards, indeed it’s easy to turn atrerials into boulevards. It’s not like fanshawe st and great north Rs don’t have the width, and indeed the various corridor management plans propose exactly that.

            It is, however, very hard to make a motorway anything but a motorway, and doubly so for motorway interchanges.

    2. I’m not sure why people make such a big deal about trucks.

      Trucks can easily be moved in a very small space. What if we’d built a smaller motorway instead, and ran it as a toll road to encourage only vital use?

      Or truck/bus lanes out of the city could have moved many people. It’s not like central London collapsed due to lack of motorways (in fact all European cities seemed to do a lot better than their US counterparts for avoiding massive urban motorways).

  9. Yes when I think about the wonderful bush that used to grow in the Queen Street gulley I get tears in my eyes. Imagine if those people hadn’t been so greedy and just wanted places for employment and commerce we could have had two large bush clad areas doing nothing at all.

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