This is a guest post from reader Jeff following on from his first post which you can read here.

Did you know that the Mangere inlet has a fantastic cycle and walkway connecting Onehunga with Hugo Johnson Drive in Penrose? (pictured below, in Green)

If your first reaction is that you’ve never walked or cycled the Mangere inlet, then please do so on the next fine day! You might be surprised how beautiful and peaceful this area really is. It is a real hidden urban oasis.

Whilst often used by recreational weekend families and casual cyclists, the path is cycleable from Hillsborough or Mangere Bridge through to Penrose, this excellent resource is begging to be expanded into a multi modal (walk, cycle, run) link between major Auckland transport hubs, employment centres and residential suburbs.

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 1

The existing shared pathway (pictured in green) only covers a third of the possible activation. If we could bring the link along the eastern coast of the Inlet (right hand side, in orange), we can quickly link to the Salesyard road overbridge, connecting the path to Otahuhu, and further south to the Otahuhu Train Station – which, just a year from now, will be redeveloped into major Bus and Train interchange, with currently no option to walk anywhere other than the Otahuhu town centre. Linking these centres via walk & cycleway would be an Auckland first, two Major Rail hubs, linked in this accessible way.

Let’s break the route down a bit;

First thing’s first, a 500 metre extension connects the start of the path with Onehunga Train station, unlocking alternative movement modes between two road-locked regions.
Nice, easy, let’s at least do that.

Secondly if we extend the current end from Hugo Johnson Drive to the Otahuhu Transport hub, using railside land along the Eastern shore, we unlock alternative movement between two road-locked regions, Onehunga and Otahuhu have never been linked like this before.

The path can then link Otahuhu Transport Hub, Norana park, Favona road, and Mahunga Drive, and back to Onehunga via Mangere Bridge. Some boardwalking would be required to link through the mangroves, behind Favona Road to link the Favona Rd public access right of way to Mahunga drive, another major employment centre, and then heading north again to link to the existing Mangere Bridge cycle infrastructure. Have you ever driven along Favona road? A major hub of employment from Mangere is built for trucks and vehicular traffic, cycling along it is a game only for the brave.

Let’s take a close look at some of the links required to get best activation;

Starting with Onehunga Mall (the road), linking the shared pathway to Onehunga Train Station. Either setting aside shared space on the footpath, or temporarily utilising rail corridor access would connect the station to the Foreshore. There’s ample room between street & rail land to make at least a semi-permanent access way (until future Airport rail links would require a re-layout of the entire area, roads included)

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 2

This is where the existing cycleway ends at Hugo Johnson Drive. Without too much furore this could connect to Great South & Sylvia Park Roads (and onwards to the mall) via railway land.

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 3

Moving down the Eastern edge the harbour the path can connect to Salesyards Rd via the existing rail bridge. This opens up the first of two massive catchments to Otahuhu

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 4

Otahuhu Train Station. This one’s important, this links the population surrounding Onehunga Train station with Otahuhu’s population and their massive transport hub

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 5

The South Coast, Linking Otahuhu Train Station with Major employers along Favona Road. It may look empty but many thousands of people work in this area 7 days a week, day & night.
Of note is the currently underutilised right of way, which right now connects the foreshore to Favona Rd and the massively underutilised Norna Park (which holds several small baseball pitches).

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 6

This bit’s easy, the boardwalk follows Favona Road to Link back to Mahunga Drive , connecting up to the Mangere Bridge cycleway that terminates on Mahunga Dr, just south of the bridge.

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 7

At what cost?

It’s estimated that boardwalking a coastline equates to anywhere between $1500 to $3000 per metre, accounting for all project costs.
The route I’ve proposed in orange equates to approximately 71500 meters. At an estimate of $2250 per metre, a project of this scope would cost approximately 17 million dollars.

Return on investment?

This would be realised in a number of indirect ways, while extremely hard to put a value on, they can increase quality of life substantially;

  • Increased patronage in two public transport hubs, (Onehunga & Otahuhu)
  • Minor freeing of roading congestion of commuters between Neilson Street & Otahuhu, enabling easier industry movement.
  • Increased housing values in Otahuhu & Mangere, particularly with the massive Favona Rd Special Housing Area currently under construction. Two areas that will see a huge capital gain within this generation.
  • Further labour catchment in Eastern Penrose and Mangere by enabling car free, cross harbour commuting .
  • Increased recreational activity for residents of both coastlines.
  • A catalyst for investment in development along both shores of the Mangere inlet.

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 8

The Bigger Picture;

Thinking into the not-so-distant-future. With Skypath just around the corner, and the Tamaki cycleway under construction, a simple link between Tamaki and Sylvia Park isn’t rocket science.
Imagine being able to cycle from Devonport to Puketutu Island? I think any true-blue Aucklander can get on board with that.

Jeff - Mangere Inlet 9

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  1. I think I would leave out the westfield train station over bridge part. That is a major shunting area plus that carpark is not the best place to cyclist going though (and I doubt you would get Kiwirail buy in – they are having problems with vandals and opening it up more could create a problem. Kiwirail spent a lot of money on putting tress on the riparian zone …so they might not be too happy with parts of the plan. I suspect they would want security fencing of some kind to “protect” people from the rail corridor. So that might cost abit. Also I suspect you might have a wee bit of a problem with asbestos issues…. a person from AC indicated to me around that area (but maybe more like southdown and Pike Point there is some asbestos contaminated ground. You could easily rack up abit in CL investigation/remediation as well.

    I like your suggestion of linking the cycle path/walk way with the Onehunga and Otahuhu train stations but I wonder if there are any other coastal walkways/cycle ways that might be better to do first? ( I have worked/walked around the southern side of this area and while it is peaceful you are looking on the back of a lot of factories – not sure if the pull factor is there. I would recommend the Panmure Lagoon first and perhaps look to develop Orakai Basin or even Mt Albert-Meola Creek walkway further.

  2. Nice proposal! I presume you mean 7150m, not 71500m; however your total cost of $17 million would still be right. What kind of width does a $2250/m boardwalk get you? You’d be wanting at least 3m wide (maybe 4m?); bear in mind that, without handrails, many riders wouldn’t want to get too close to the edge of a raised boardwalk over water/mangrove.

    1. Update:
      They are about to start construction of a shared path from mahunga Dr around the inlet past norana ave almost to saville drive intersection.

      Better late than never

  3. As a local in the area I appreciate the presence of industry and the juxtaposition of it and residential areas. Makes me feel that i’m in a living, breathing town. Biking along the existing northern pathway i feel like I’m exploring, passing speedways, cemeteries, warehouses, factories and train tracks. I don’t necessarily desire every new path to be within another archetypal “pretty” area. Let appreciation be something more complex.

    However to counter my own argument the thought of West-West motorway destroying the northern shoreline makes me feel utterly depressed.

  4. Brilliant blue sky thinking that is needed here in Auckland.
    Get the focus away from car’s and from known cycling & walking problems which need to be fixed – but on new initiatives which create a whole lot of new options.
    Well worth the spend with so many benefits.
    How do we get the Council to look at this idea? Is this a Greater Auckland thing?

    1. fab point. Hamlin’s Hill is a great spot. would be nice to be able to cycle across the top. Or even do something visual with the Coast to Coast walk, which is more of an abstract map, than an actual marked out (in purple!?) route

    2. More to the point, CBD to Mangere via GI is a practically a semicircle. When are we going to see some gumption in pushing direct cycling routes through established suburbs

  5. If they can put up some parks along the route would be better. Then comes up with amenity like bike hire shops and cafes. Put plenty of bike racks in otathuhu stations as well.

  6. “Imagine being able to cycle from Devonport to Puketutu Island?” – wont you be able to do that when waterview is finished? I imagine the south western cycleway is going to join with the north western?

  7. Nice idea. Shouldn’t cost too much (probably have to add another $1m to cover iwi issues though) and certainly opens up the area to both cycling and walking while connecting PT.

  8. As good an idea as this is, the only way we’ll get it built is if the planned billions to be spent on a motorway over the existing path is instead spent on a motorway on the opposite side of the inlet.

  9. Great idea! I ride from Greenlane to Middlemore whenever I can, and have been thinking about exactly those links along the eastern part of the inlet. While the old Mangere Bridge and northern shore pathway are pleasant ways to get home, they are a bit of a detour. A north-south route that avoids Great South Road (GSR) would be a valuable regional transport link. For example, I, and quite a few of my colleagues, currently ride straight down GSR and then onto Saleyards Road in the morning. This is not a great way to return in afternoon traffic, and we often go through Onehunga. But if I want to get home quickly, I currently go GSR-Industry Road-Hugo Johnson Drive. It would be great to be able to hop from Saleyards across to Hugo Johnson without having to go onto GSR at all.

    With the NW cycleway, and the downtown, Skypath, and Tamaki cycle projects, options for getting around town by bike are rapidly improving. That covers west, north and east of the CBD. I think a north-south route roughly along GSR, the motorway and the train should be next in line.

  10. Jeff, I am all for this proposal and would love if it was pushed at the council/AT. I believe it would be quite a transformational project for the area and bring in many people to use as a recreational facility as well as being able to provide many links to various areas in AKL for commuting. I would also emphasize that a direct link to the airport and northwest cycleways would be created and that provisions to link the south and east in the future could make a perfect network that would encircle an area that provides a lot of employment in AKL.
    This project has a lot more potential than most realize!

  11. This idea has been around for a long time – Sharlene Kowalski investigated the route in detail over 30 years ago in her report to the old Auckland Regional Authority. If you want real blue sky thinking, her full report investigated the entire Manukau Harbour coast, looking at every affected property along 409 kilometres of foreshore. Apart from the green line on your first map which was built many years ago little more has been achieved, It is certainly time to be looking at adding a few more kilometres – perhaps starting with the link past the Westfield rail yards.

  12. Just one other comment to add; I would break it up into 3 stages: first along the Mangere Bridge foreshore and link to the airport, second along the Otahuhu foreshore – these shouldn’t cost too much each so would look a lot more palatable. The third stage would obviously connect the other 2 along the southern shore and would be where most of the cost is (due to some larger board walks required over some areas).
    I think that once the other 2 stages are done it would only be natural to finish this one off and the spend would be more acceptable.

    1. I agree that doing it stages is better. From Mahunga Dr to Norana Ave is probably the easiest and cheapest since much is already council land. Perhaps the developer of the SHA might contribute or be amenable to the part the it goes beside. Or it may already be in part of the plans with foreshore access.

      From Hugo Johnston there is already a gravel road (closed to the public) from there all the way to the Mainfreight building along from Otahuhu Station in Railway Lane. Also cheap to do. Just give the public access.

      1. Yah, looks like I forgot to factor in the Mangere Bridge paths, We cycled that to Puketutu Island a few weeks ago which was part of the research for this post. Absolutely wonderful trip.

  13. Author here. Thank you all for the very positive feedback, glad to have planted the idea out into the wild. I guess the next steps is to find a way to press this to AT, without allowing NZTA the chance to build it as a concession for their (poorly conceived) E-W link.

  14. There is a nice walkway around Panmure lagoon and another from Pakuranga Plaza to Bucklands Beach along the Tamaki River’s edge, but no good connection (except a pathetically narrow footpath across the Panmure Bridge). A decent 3m wide clip-on to both the Panmure Ridge and to the Waipuna Bridge would also generate a wide set of cycling and walking connections that would be well used.

    1. AMETI proposes significant upgrades in the area for walking and cycling – but also means that until we get it (2022 or so, if we can’t find money earlier), there won’t be many interim upgrades 🙁

  15. Using the old rail corridor at Onehunga would be a great link for the foreshore walkway up into Onehunga. The bottom end of Onehunga Mall as it circles under the bridge is not great for cyclists or pedestrians. Especially given the large number of trucks using the area. At $17M a lot cheaper than a East West connector

  16. I cycled from Greenlane to Otara for many years and often wished I could get from the end of Hugo Johnston Drive to Portage Rd via Kiwirail’s sea-side road and Westfield Station overbridge. This would be a much safer alternative to the section of Great South Road in that area. I agree however that the chances of getting buy-in from Kiwirail are remote. I have also noted that the overbridge is locked off just beyond the station platform ramp so access beyond that point is now impossible for the public. Once the station closes it is possible that the overbridge will be demolished as happened to the Southdown one when Southdown station closed. This would be a pity. On a side note, the Southdown overbridge used to provide very handy access between Great South Road an Hugo Johnston drive via Southdown Lane. This was a great loss at the time.

  17. I actually rode this today 17th October 2015, its a great Cycleway and walkway but once you get to Southdown you come to an impasse, either you turn around and go back the way you came or go back toward the wharf via Neilson Street and Onehunga Train station then back toward the start, i would have loved to go via westfield and back around the whole inlet to where i parked my car.

    Love your idea good job 10/10

  18. The business property owners that back on to the proposed route would be concerned about the increased access to their properties that it would give thieves. The route would be very isolated from watchful eyes of the public.

    1. The Onehunga cycleway backs onto some businesses, car storages facilities, container yards and has a similar level of ‘isolation’. There don’t seem to be any big issues there.

      Would need some electric security fences, if they don’t have them already.

  19. I grew up, and still live, on Norana Ave and spent much of my childhood exploring the coastline on foot and by kayak. This idea would be great and would really open the upper harbour up to the public. Currently the amenity value of this area is completely undervalued and access is difficult – unless you know which dead end roads to go down most of this area of the harbour is invisible. I think this could do a lot to boost the profile and status of Favona/Otahuhu.

  20. Manukau Harbour Restoration Society continues to support a walkway and cycleway around the upper Manukau Harbour to reuse and lock up the contaminated material that has been placed into this part of the harbour over the past 100 years.
    Such a proposal could receive financial leverage from the proposed East West Connection project to resolve a serious environmental problem in an economic and timely manner that our society has created through urbanisation of Auckland.
    In the 1950’s some 600 acres of land was reclaimed in this part of the harbour by the Onehunga Borough Council, One Tree Hill Borough Council and the Auckland Harbour Board using practices that today are outlawed.
    Today the Port of Onehunga suffers a major sedimentation problem primarily caused by the inappropriate upper harbour reclamation program where domestic and industrial rubbish was dumped directly into the harbour and the displaced sediment has taken some 50 years to reach the Onehunga Wharf and the Aotea Sea Scout building and does not allow the Port of Onehunga to be an all tide facility. Jim Jackson, Chairman, MHRS

  21. Have there been any updates on this or parts of this. I ride to and from work a couple of days a week though this area. The lack of cycle track options from Onehunga to Otahuhu forces cyclists to battle Great South or Favona Roads with the ever increasing number of trucks.

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