On Saturday Auckland gains 6.8 hectares of new parkland and beaches within the urban area as the $30 million Onehunga Foreshore redevelopment opens.

The redevelopment follows decades of advocacy after the original foreshore was cut off by the building of the motorway in 1975 by the Ministry of Works. A schematic drawing from the time showed future development similar to what has now been developed and the case for it was really pushed when the NZTA wanted to widen the motorway as part of the project to duplicate the harbour crossing.

Onehunga Foreshore Development

The Onehunga foreshore officially opens on Saturday 14 November, with the $30m development providing Aucklanders with their first significant access to the Onehunga seashore since the 1970s.

The joint Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board / NZ Government project has created 6.8ha of parkland between SH20 and the Manukau Harbour – with new beaches, a boat ramp and turning bay, and a pedestrian/cyclist bridge linking the foreshore to Onehunga Bay Reserve.

“After decades of advocacy and involvement from the people of Onehunga, followed by a three year construction programme, it’s wonderful to finally open up access to newly created beachside recreational areas and facilities – all within walking distance of central Onehunga,” says Simon Randall, chair of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board.

“This will become a popular walking and cycling route, just a stroll from Onehunga shops to the lagoon and reserve, and then a short walk across the new overbridge to the large beachside park and tracks,” says Mr Randall.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland Regional Director, Ernst Zöllner says the Agency is delighted to have reconnected people to the water and helped make the community’s long standing vision for this foreshore a reality.

“The government’s significant $19m investment in this new urban amenity is part of a broader commitment to addressing the impacts of transport projects. We greatly value our partnerships with local communities and recognise the importance of Onehunga not only to Auckland, but New Zealand’s early history.”

The local board will be joined by Mayor Len Brown and NZ Transport Agency to jointly open the new reserve at 11am, 14 November. Following the pre-dawn ceremony from mana whenua and civic opening, community-led water-based activities will take place.

Representatives of Te Akitai Waiohua, Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua, Ngāti Tamaoho, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei and Te Kawerau a Maki form the project’s Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Working Group, which has an ongoing interest in the governance and management of the park.

The new name gifted to the foreshore park by mana whenua will be revealed, along with striking new artworks.

Ted Ngataki’s wayfinding carving navigates the surrounding landscape from a Māori perspective. The artwork celebrates the layers of mana whenua embedded in the foreshore location.

Bernard Makoare’s stunning bridge panelling is a contemporary modern expression that celebrates the nature of the sea at full tide and the mudflats at low tide.

The new reserve also features shared cycling and walking paths, seating and picnic areas, carparks and extensive planting.

Local board member Brett Clark says the completed project has very much benefited from the knowledge and input of the Onehunga Foreshore Working Group, including representatives from The Onehunga Enhancement Society (TOES).

“We’ve enthusiastically debated the detail, but all along the people of Onehunga have been strong supporters of this project, with close to 1000 supporting submissions received for the original resource consents application.”

“The project successfully reconnects Onehunga to the sea, and recaptures the biodiversity and recreational opportunities that were displaced when the motorway was built across Onehunga Bay in the 1970s,” says Mr Clark.

Across the motorway, a new festival lawn adjacent to Onehunga Lagoon will be home to the Onehunga Bay Festival in March 2016.

This will be a fantastic new addition to the city. Here’s what the development looked like from above in July

Onehunga Foreshore July 2015

And a timelapse of it’s construction.

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  1. Looks fantastic. However, I really think what’s most needed in this area is a monstrous pseudo-motorway for the trucking lobby (paid for by the public of course)

    1. Insanely TOES argue that 1.5bil motorway cutting Onehunga from the sea is needed so they can get more mitigation. It’s the craziest argument for infrastructure spending yet, but also explains why NZTA are happy to pony up for gardening around motorways; it’s marketing for the unnecessary and wasteful.

      The word mitigation is the key; better to not destroy a place in the first place than seek congratulation for ameliorating your violation. Yes this is an improvement on what was ruined by the motorway, but it is no argument for ruining the next place.

    2. Yes, a giant subsidized highway severing the community from the other foreshore is exactly what’s needed.

      My only request is that the negative effects of the new motorway are mitigated by a giant neon pohutukawa sculpture of some form, preferably located within one leaf of a giant “clover leaf” interchange, such that it’s only accessible by boat in 30 years time when sea levels are 3m higher.

      Imagine that?!? Onehunga would be like the Venice of the South Pacific.

        1. Maybe we can zone it for large standalone houses for the rich. In a city like Auckland we could reasonably expect many of those people to own a boat. So, in a final twist of irony, a local zoning rule will require the garages of those houses to be large enough to fit a boat.

    1. Loved the time lapse. From memories growing up this is a magnificent improvement on the stinky mud and mangroves. Like it or not the motorway helped improve the harbour.

    2. Why stop there, a levee at the Manukau heads would only need to be 2 km long. That’s nothing to a Dutchman and it would create more than 200 square Km of new land if the whole harbour was reclaimed /s

      1. You could call it an ice age restoration project. Auckland like it was 10,000 years ago. It would solve the housing problem. Lots of nice flat land. Everyone could have a quarter acre section. No more nasty geographical constraints. Now that what I call thinking

    3. Actually this isn’t that bad an idea.
      It would make the rail link to the Airport and the sh20 sh1 link much easier to build.
      It would help water quality as all the industrial waste-water outlets would need to be sorted.
      Instead of replacing the Onehunga bridge, you could put the dike there with a large sandy beach between Onehunga and Mangere Bridge on one side.
      It would reinvigorate the Mangere, Onehunga & Otahuhu town centres.
      And finally it would help with the Auckland affordable housing shortage.

      1. Seasoning! Looks like everybody’s kicked a goal. Now why would you want to go out to a restaurant when this keeps comin’ up night after night?

  2. On a more serious note. What is the water quality like there, particularly with respect to microbiological quality? Would it be safe to swim or is it more of a promenade type of park where is it better to walk and admire the view and make sand castles?

    1. I understand that stormwater/sewage outfalls still pollute the area, and will be for around the near future at least until the systems are fully separated.

      Overall, the area has been getting measurably better since the early 20th century when it was being contaminated extremely by factories and processing works around the inlet, but I understand the residual poisons in the ground will be around for decades or more yet, so I would never eat seafood from the Manukau, on cautionary principles. Sad.

      There’s some links to enviro research in the Wikipedia article for the inlet, which after all is just around the corner from here:


      Swimming you should be fine, unless there was a recent storm.

  3. Did they move the Transpower transmission line that runs across the “bay” or is that carefully out of frame in the provided images, ?

    Also they could have done with some more “hillocks” backing onto the Motorway to help with noise mitigation, until the trees grow up I would imagine the “swish. swish” road noise will be pretty much everywhere…

  4. From the video, the area is very plain with no amenity

    -No chairs, no shelters
    -No BBQ facility
    -A beach café / ice cream shop?
    -Children play area?
    -Beach shower / changing room / toilet?

    People won’t use it until some basic amenity is there.

  5. The existing area around the lagoon (which is designated a dog off-leash area) has a children’s playground (just on the Onehunga side of the new bridge), toilets, and BBQs. The carpark was near-full weekend before last, and that was just a very nice Spring day!

  6. Does anyone know if there will be a cycle lane from the new bridge into Onehunga? I cycle over the bridge north the new one every day, that just drops you at an intersection that is very dangerous to cross (bad visibility) with no where to go (I just illegally ride along the footpath). It looks like they are doing some works at the Onehunga end of the new bridge, will there be cycle lanes to Onehunga Mall?

  7. The new book on Isthmus, Coast, has a large section on this project – beautifully designed book, extolling the virtues of Isthmus. Worth getting your hands on a copy if you can.

    But I still don’t think I would ever want to swim in the lagoon there. Surrounding area draining into it, and only one entry for water to flush in / out – surely a breeding ground for greeblies? I don’t think they should encourage anyone to swim in that lagoon – the new beaches should be a different story.

  8. Lipstick on a pig. More cosmetic gardening from NZTA in a vain attempt to ameliorate the damage they and their predecessors have done to the New Zealand environment. Lie back on the beach (for the brief time before it’s covered in mud) and breath in those lovely particulates.

  9. Its a pity they didn’t extend the nice new cycle/walking path past the Manukau Cruising club through to the old Mangere bridge. Its a bit of a blind spot for pedestrians/cyclists along there and not a lot of space if a car is passing by. Still its a great new resource.

  10. Be interesting to see how this is used in a “beach” sense, given you have a roaring motorway behind you, and in front water you can’t swim in, dominated by pylons.

    Otherwise, looks good and will improve as the foliage grows.

  11. Why are there no sound barriers along the motorway here?

    While it looks great I do think they have missed an opportunity by not going bigger. What about if they had gone another 20-30 meters out. Run a row of two/three story shops/apartments (cafes, restaurants, water sport rentals, fish and chips, icecream) backing onto the motorway and rezone the light industry area next to the lagoon to mixed use. The extra cost would have been covered by the lease/sale on the shops (no idea of actual costs involved).

    1. It does seem like yoiu’d be sitting on the beach and with th emotorway literally 10m behind you/. That doesn’t sound pleasant to me.

      My assumption; NZTA and lots of ‘community’ groups (local board et al) were involved in the design and it was a public space/recreation project. Had Waterfront Auckland/Auckland Development Agency been involved, it might be a different outcome. Apartments, shops, proper foreshore promeade, etc…

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