The council have released a draft 20-year master plan for the Auckland Domain that if enacted would see some major and positive changes to how people access and use Auckland’s oldest and one of its largest parks. The purpose of the master plan is described as:

The purpose of the Auckland Domain Masterplan is to identify all the various projects and work streams impacting on Auckland Domain, and to create a coordinating plan that consolidates its position as Auckland’s premier park. The masterplan is a twenty year aspiration for how the park can develop and help to achieve the Auckland Plan’s vision to make Auckland the world’s most liveable city.

The implementation of the Auckland Domain Masterplan will help to realise the particular Auckland Plan outcomes of:

  • A fair, safe and healthy Auckland
  • A green Auckland
  • A well connected and accessible Auckland
  • A beautiful Auckland that is loved by its people
  • A Maori identity that is Auckland’s point of difference.

There are seven key principles behind the master plan and for each the draft plan lists observations and key proposals.

  1. Enhancing the Domain for peaceful respite.
  2. Enhancing the role of the Domain as an important cultural and heritage site.
  3. Creating safe, people friendly places and routes with high amenity.
  4. Improving connectivity to the Domain and to the key features within it.
  5. Improving the Domain as a recreation and event destination.
  6. Enhancing and maintaining the amenities and facilities within the Domain.
  7. Creating an environmentally sustainable park that is an exemplar on the world stage.

Of those number 3 and 4 are ones that will have some significant implications, especially on transport. The observation for number 3 says:

Since the introduction of motor vehicles to New Zealand, Auckland Domain has catered for their use, enabling vehicle access to the doorstep of the Auckland War Memorial Museum and throughout the park. This philosophy of a carfriendly park has carried on unchallenged for almost a century and even the Auckland Domain Management Plan 1993 is permissive of continuing their dominance of the park. The car and tour bus domination of Auckland Domain detracts from the safety and amenity of pedestrian and cyclist experiences.

Further, it prevents the full potential for creating high quality pedestrian environments in key areas of the park, such as those adjacent to the Museum. Cars and buses also detract from significant and important views from within the Domain, such as those to the Museum.

As part of the plan the council are proposing to close some of the roads within the park, upgrading and turning them over to people and bikes. This includes all of the roads currently circling the museum and the surface carpark at the southern entrance. Where vehicle access is retained it’s also suggested reduce the dominance of it by narrowing roads and reducing the numbers of carparks. The image below shows where they plan to improve walking and cycling options with the lines in red roads that will be closed. As you can see there are a lot of interesting projects on the list.

Draft Domain Plan - Walk cycle improvements

The map below shows more explicitly the areas that vehicles will have access to if this plan is approved.

Draft Domain Plan - Vehicle Access

Here are a few impressions of what the changes could mean.

The surface level carpark at the Museum could become a people space – although it looks like it needs some more activation to ensure it isn’t just an expanse of unused paving.

Draft Domain Plan - Museum Carpark

The Crescent would be narrowed and a shared path added.

Draft Domain Plan - Cresent western end

The Grandstand Road would also become a shared path.

Draft Domain Plan - Grandstand Road

Through parks shared paths probably aren’t too bad but it does seem odd that they’re suggested to be so narrow at only around 3m in width and slightly less on the Grandstand Road one. Given how popular the Domain is, they would be used by a lot of people on foot and on bike. At the very least wider paths are needed.

Here is a list of some of the other amenity improvements that are included in the plan.

Draft Domain Plan - Amenity improvement

Overall there looks to be some good ideas in the draft plan that will make the park even better. Submissions are on it are open till the end of the month and there is an open day on Saturday February 13 at the cricket pavilion from 11am to 2pm.

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  1. So how are the elderly or disabled, or young children supposed to access the Museum?
    I agree other roads should be restricted but there should still be direct access to the museum at some point for vehicles (even if there is no parking at that point) to allow for the above access.

      1. That’s a good entry, but not suitable for a bus entry and the back entry to the museum is not a good entry as its narrow and hardly the sort of first impression for tourist arrivals and bus arrivals that the main front entry provides. Is it intended to upgrade the back entry?. Once you get into the main auditorium its ok.

    1. I think that is the point. They won’t be able to so museum visits will decline and they will be able to let staff go. They are forgetting it is supposed to be a regional facility but without a rail station, or much of a bus service it will become a park for local people. Might as well sell it off if we can’t go there.

      1. What rubbish. Losing a few carparks and rationalising access ways is something that can improve visitor numbers to the museum.
        I’m pretty sure that the directors of the museum know how to run a regional facility.

        1. Because all successful entertainment businesses get rid of short term parking and make coach access more difficult. Oh hand on only the publicly owned ones try that.

        2. If people actually bothered to look at the proposals they would see there are still to be heaps of car parking but that it will be less distributed through the park and now more sensibly concentrated at a series of locations on the peripheries. This not only removes vehicles from their current domination of every single part of the park but will also reduce endless circulating by drivers looking for one of these currently distributed parking spaces. And will obviously more suited to events.

          It is extremely hard to see how this is anything other than completely desirable.

          Drop-offs are still there, as are the rat runs through the middle of it.

      2. Plenty of bus access to the domain. Rail is also pretty close albeit not on the Museum side. The current situation of the domain being filled with footpathless roads I have always found absurd. I have long wondered if and when they would sort it out.

        1. It is true that the domain is very lacking in footpaths – fine in summer but not in winter when the grass is waterlogged, not ideal.

          I disagree though about ‘plenty of bus access’ – if we want to take our kids to the museum on the weekend, we need to 1- get one of the very few buses that operate on the weekend and pay 4 fares, 2- hop off on Albert Street and walk to the Link, 3- hop on the Link, 4- hop off in Parnell and walk to the museum. Frankly it becomes an expensive expedition that we just won’t bother doing very often, with 1h15mns to get there (25mns by car) and a cost of $11.50 return per adult plus $6.50 per child – that’s $36 for our family.
          The museum has to be careful balancing the need to have pleasant, multiple-use space around the building with the practicalities of attracting visitors. Has there been any work into identifying where visitors come from (incl. which part of Auckland), how they got there and why they chose a particular mode of transport? This is crucial before any pragmatic plan is put in place.

          1. Exactly. Now do the same commute with two muddy kids after games of rugby. While I have no problem with removing the through traffic (Lower Domain Drive would have been better closed than made flat, wide and boring), this smacks of making it a nicer place for some users at the expense of others who use it regularly as-is.

          2. @buttwizard69420 February 5, 2016 at 9:35 pm
            You’ve given us so much hyperbole we could use it as a skate park. Less parking does not mean no parking, having to walk a couple hundred metres further to the car before and after a rugby game does not count as cruel and unusual

          3. There is a massive amount of car park removal around the sportsfields. Why should people be expected to pay for parking to use the Domain recreationally just to enable a huge capital spend so another select group can use it for free?

  2. Parks/reserves planners typically seem to be even less aware than transport planners about the practical needs of walking/cycling in park areas. Hence we get 3m shared paths on what could be a major active transport thoroughfare (in fact, I’ve seen plenty that aren’t even 2m). Pretty sure that many users would much much rather have even an extra 0.5m path width by halving that planted berm space on The Crescent for starters. In Christchurch, new shared paths are going in at 4m wide, and by my observations working well.

    But why make them shared necessarily? Particularly where they are re-purposing an existing road, there is plenty of space to have separate walking and cycling spaces. Have the walking space raised slightly with a kerb and people will quickly figure out where they are meant to be. This is a pretty standard approach in many Dutch parks for example, see a couple of photo examples halfway down this page:

    1. Agree totally and also point out that those angle parked cars only need as much clear roadway “width” behind them as the Grandstand Road is wide (i.e. 1.5 cars wide), if needed, reduce the angle in to allow easier turning into/reversing out of the parks.
      And make the rest of the space separated cycleway with adjacent walkway ala the Dutch examples in your link.

      Don’t what this is obsession with planted medians is – it doesn’t mean its low maintenance and is easy for the cars to drive over if they chose so offers no real physical protection to cyclists or pedestrians.

  3. I know I should focus on substantive issues but that quote above relating to points 3 and 4 sounds like it was written by a child.

    “This philosophy of a carfriendly park” (since when has carfriendly been an adjective?) – “For almost a century, cars have been privileged in their access to and through Auckland Domain” would be much more elegant.
    “the Auckland Domain Management Plan 1993 is permissive of continuing” (this is the ugliest piece of bureacratese ever) – “The Auckland Domain Management Plan 1993 continued this spatial privilege”
    “Detracts from the safety of pedestrian and cyclist experience” (it can detract from the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, but their experiences”
    “Further, it prevents the full potential for creating high quality pedestrian environments” (why use one word when fifty will do?

    Here’s EC’s take
    “For almost a century, cars have been privileged in their access to and through Auckland Domain. The Auckland Domain Management Plan 1993, the latest relevant plan, continued this spatial privilege. Privileged automotive access detracts from the safety and amenity of pedestrians and cyclists within the domain and hinders the development of high-quality pedestrian environments.”

    Took me 5 minutes. Auckland Council, you owe me $500.

    1. Nice job! Let’s run it through the filter once more for plain language, active verbs, and universal comprehension:

      “For nearly 100 years, we’ve let cars pour into and through the Domain in huge numbers and use the roads as they please. Last time we looked at how people use the Domain (in 1993), we stuck with the idea that cars matter most. But it turns out, giving drivers free rein is unsafe and makes life much harder for people walking and biking – and gets in the way of making this great park a green, serene place we can all enjoy.”

      You can have that one for free, cos I’m in the non-profit comms biz 🙂

  4. And now substantive issues:
    1. If I can’t drive to the museum I won’t be going. I bus everyday. I don’t want to have the hassle of multiple buses and transfers to go somewhere for entertainment.
    2. All for better pedestrian amenity but THINK ABOUT THE SPORTS TEAMS FFS. They are going to be harmed by the lack of parking.
    3. Why is there so little about improving the quality of the sporting pitches? Yes it’s there but surely that’s the focus of a *recreational facility*

    1. “3. Why is there so little about improving the quality of the sporting pitches? Yes it’s there but surely that’s the focus of a *recreational facility*”
      Have you looked at 5.3, item#4? That looks a lot like improving the quality of the sports fields.
      The parking at or near the sports fields does not appear to have changed much at all – so no problem.

    2. I’ll be along to the Domain this evening running around. I shall pass large signs proclaiming “No Parking on the Grass”. I shall then see a dozen or more cars parked on the grass. It happens constantly. Why is this not enforced?
      The proposals do not return enough of the Domain to the purpose for which it was bequeathed to the people of Auckland – and that was not as a roadway! But as a compromise to get it completed, I can live with it.

          1. Read the supplied material before commenting please.
            The bus drop off is going to be enlarged and improved. It will however be moved from basically driving over one of our country’s most important war memorials (i.e. the cenotaph). Don’t see how anyone can disagree with this improvement.

          2. If you had a pram to push (or a friend on a wheelchair) you would prefer 100m with no cars around than 20m with cars. go back to the herald comments section

    3. “If I can’t drive to the museum I won’t be going. I bus everyday. I don’t want to have the hassle of multiple buses and transfers to go somewhere for entertainment.”

      I think that’s a good point actually. Without integrated fares and without family passes, it costs about $40 for a family of four to get to the museum and back ($55 if they don’t have HOP cards), so driving is the only realistic way to get there for most people. The Council has to remember that most families are not wealthy when planning changes to parking arrangements around Auckland’s attractions and can’t afford public transport the way it is currently set up.

      1. On the other hand, I very much like the idea of slower traffic going through the domain. It is used too frequently as a through-route to bypass Newmarket, detracting from its quality as a recreational park. While on that theme of safety, it would also have been good to see safer pedestrian facilities up at Park Road where so many people cross a busy road with no crossing in sight.

  5. I think the proposed plan goes some way in recognising that this park is shifting from being some playing fields and a museum with big lawns to being a real central city park providing local residents who don’t have backyards with green space.

    1. My concern is that will be the focus. The museum was built there to be accessible. It was intended as a memorial for all the men and women from the area of the old Auckland Province that didn’t come back. That is North Cape to south of Taupo. The memorial was built after cars were invented and the expansion in the late 1950’s occurred after most families had a car. The anti-car crap doesn’t mention that. Turning it into a local park is theft from the people of the wider area.

        1. Seriously Patrick, they stuck the museum there so it would be accessible to everyone particularly out of towners. They need more parking not less.

          1. Good grief you clearly have no idea about the thinking behind that sort of neo-classical project: it’s much more based on the grandeur of the Acropolis: The command that site has over the [then] all important sea approach to the city, it’s singularity and monumentality there alone at the heart of the [city and the top of the hill. It was understood as important to go up the hill to a treasure house, like the Buckle St Museum and national Cenotaph in WGTN [cf Te Papa; heading down to the docks…].

            But sorry Mr traffic Engineer the ‘traffic management plan’ had yet to be invented and certainly didn’t drive the siting or any other significant aspect of the memorial. This huge project was about the collective broken heart of a devastated nation and has bigger themes behind it than vehicle access. It was sited by politicians and architects, not traffic engineers, which of course were yet to exist and bring their special reductionist miserablism to all earthly human affairs.

            You’ve let late 20thC auto-dominant culture go to your head with such revisionism.

          2. Just to correct you there Pat- the biggest part is the extension that opened in 1960 and that was supervised by a Council Engineer R Leith who became (drum roll please…) the first City Traffic Engineer. It was built there to be seen and dominant but some twit or twits have long since allowed the trees to grow and block the view to it despite that view being protected by viewshaft rules. Maybe the one thing we can agree on is that the War Memorial Museum is the most important thing about the domain and whatever they do should be focussed on encouraging people to visit it.

          3. John rather than correcting me you have confirmed what I said; the siting of the Museum predates the invention of the Traffic Engineer and was made entirely on other principles than vehicle access as you claimed above. The fact that extensions were made later and the city engineer, who sadly for Auckland became a priest in the dreary automobile religion, is more than somewhat irrelevant to it’s location, is it not?

          4. You are closer to the truth than you know about the site of the Museum. It was for people to look up at but not so they would walk up to it. The Museum committee built a neo-classical edifice for themselves and the elite. They failed to build a permanent cenotaph, failed to build a roll of honour and repurposed the hall of memories as a reading room for their mates in the Auckland Institute. When the place opened the RSA was livid. They demanded a cenotaph and eventually got one and they demanded the bookshelves were removed from the hall of memories, but the Museum claimed a roll of honour wasn’t possible as no one had an accurate list of the War dead and anyway they had spent the money. So the RSA put together a list, circulated it for public inspection in towns in the upper half of the North Island so people could make sure it was correct then the RSA raised the money to have the names engraved. The museum directors have always been uncomfortable about their role as a war memorial (remember the lady who wouldn’t allow the bomber crew memorial inside?). If we leave things to the museum to decide it will revert to a treasure house of stuff taken from Pacific peoples staffed by second rate academics rather than a memorial for people to actually visit.

  6. Agree this should be our iconic international park in the centre of the city but at the moment is a bit underwelming. Has some good parts but too many roads so good to see they aim to correct this. Needs better walking tracks.

    Would be interested to know if the park is connecting someway to the cycle loop that goes around the city centre too make it more of a continuous network.

    The Parnell station will be a great asset to the park.

  7. This plan appears to show the lovers lane carpark being closed, as well as eliminating most of the on road parking. When I visit the domain with my wife & kids we drive as this is the most practical way of getting there. Its not just the museam, we also regularly visit the winter gardens, duck pond and walk around the bush.
    Car parks are generally in short supply, eliminting them would be very unpopular. I don‘t have much of an appetite for paying at the museam, or the long walk pushing a pushchair up hill from the duck pond.
    Why is there a need for change? This is hardly an under utilised neglected park.
    This just looks like a plan for spending ratepayers money.
    I think there are many more important things council should be focusing on.

    1. There are several thousand carparks at the hospital and in Newmarket and surrounding streets. Can’t believe you are complaining about an extra 100m walk to walk around the bush.

    2. Obviously you haven’t visited recently because Lovers Lane has been closed for at least 2 years and there is no pushchair or elderly friendly access from that carpark to anywhere – unless you walk along the road . . .

  8. Closing those roads would be excellent, but I don’t see why many many multi-millions needs to be spent on fancy paving and planters (given the astronomical Beach Road prices that’s got to be like $10 million or more for EACH of Football, Grandstand and Kiosk) that will narrow the shared path and cause more cyclist pedestrian conflicts.

    They should just put bollards at the end and leave the tarmac. 4.8 m wide instead of 2.8 m so plenty room for cyclists and walkers. No cost to ratepayers. Could even sell it to the auto-masses as a trial. If they want native plantings put them in the grassy banks beside the tarmac.

    Also, why no mention of the Urban Cycleway Fund proposed route from Wellesley Street across the motorway. That could link up with the new shared path from Stanley Street (black 2). They do mention Grafton Gully cycleway so why not it, and same for the cycle path up Grafton Road as well.

    1. Yes it is hard to know why we insist of fancying everything up in Auckland before we do anything. The paving looks OK but the functional changes are not dependent on it.

      1. Meanwhile the footpath and cycleway alongside great north road waterview has a broken handrailing that has been barricaded off, narrowing the path significantly, and a very roughly patched surface with big steps, all from the storm 2 winters ago. The general smashed and roughly patched surface continues up the hill for several hundred metres.
        Just before the top of the hill adjacent to Waterview Close, there is a 10cm step in the footpath beside a Norfolk Pine, and the footpath continues in a pretty rough state.
        Its been bad for years, when is it going to be maintained?

        1. It’s a good point. Implement the road closures with bollards right away. Fix them up progressively and maybe a bit less fancily, rather than in one expensive hit (which most likely either wouldn’t happen, or, as noted above, suck away a lot of money from other projects for not THAT much extra gain above a cheaper method).

          The road west of the Grandstand that already has been closed is a good example.

  9. It’s great to see the rail-side cycle path making it into a document like this. Combined with the new path from Parnell Station which joins with the Grafton Gully path via the bridge over Stanley St this will be a fantastic way to get from Newmarket to downtown.

    1. While it’s in this document I wouldn’t expect it any time soon. We’ve been told separately that it’s pretty much a dead duck after AT officially investigated it as part of another project they’re working on. Tunnel needs a lot of work and would require land purchases. We’re talking 10s of millions. There were other issues too but can’t remember them off the top of my head.

      1. I don’t remember them being that negative (if we are talking of the same meeting), but it certainly didn’t seem to be a high priority for AT to add to their network.

  10. What’s really missing from these images are the large swathes of grass dying after being sprayed with round-up.

    Quite why they are even contemplating this when they refuse to fund maintenance to existing parks at a reasonable level is beyond me…

  11. Any consideration being given to creating a “Hagley Oval” type field inside the Domain?

    Something that could seat 2-5,000 around a village green no.1 on embankments that could be scaled up to 20-25,000 with temporary seating?

  12. Well it’s funny you should mention closing roads as I have been thinking that the Museum will never look any good until the kerbside carparking is removed from the Crescent and the Domain won’t be any good until they prevent through traffic, say at the Domain Drive-Lower Domain Drive intersection. We’re not anti-car just anti-car only; you just wouldn’t be able to use the place as a rat run any more.

  13. While the museum may be in Auckland, it is being paid for, through their rates, by every ratepayer in the province. However, it is just one part of that major recreational facility, which includes the winter gardens, and the sporting fields which are very well used for competition cricket during the summer. So the juggling act here is how to allow those from out of town , who have a stake in the place, to have ease of access, yet make it more pedestrian friendly. Perhaps one of the best options for Aucklanders visiting
    the place would be to catch a train to Grafton station, which is only about 10 minutes walk away.

        1. Hence my thoughts on a LRT route across the Grafton gully I’ve mentioned before! ….directly from Queen St up Wellesley St? Line continue over LRT/bike/pedestrian bridge over the Grafton Gully, around a curve as close as possible to the future Parnell heavy rail station (or following/on the existing Lower Domain Dr as much as possible if want to save more trees). Then carry on up close to the Museum, basically next to/on/in place of Domain Dr leading out to Parnell Rd. Link to quick sketch:

        2. I have been thinking before about a similar route. The main problem with public transport within the centre is the combination of:
          (1) a lot of north-south routes (Albert St, Queen St, Symonds St), and the majority goes via the easternmost of these (Symonds St)
          (2) no frequent east-west routes south of Fanshawe / Customs Street.

          And the outer link bus doesn’t count. Try catching it from Victoria Park towards Parnell. Often it will show up way early and then wait 10 minutes just past Queen Street. And 15 minutes frequency is really pushing it if you have to catch a connecting bus.

          So we could make an inner city crosstown service:
          • Victoria Park (connect to north bound buses on Fanshawe St)
          • Wellesley Street (connect to southbound buses on Albert St)
          • Aotea square (connect to buses on Queen Street)
          • Symonds St (connect to all those buses there)
          • Grafton station (connect to western train line)
          • Newmarket (connect to southern train line)

          Or on the New Network some buses coming from the north shore go to the universities, which also may solve this problem.

  14. Remember new network has trial bus route from Newmarket right into muesem and Parnell station opening by the time all this happens.

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