Wayfinding is an important part in helping people navigate cities and something Auckland hasn’t been particularly good at in the past. Auckland Transport is leading a project across the council family to try and improve that and come up with a region-wide signage solution. They list the benefits as

A consistent signage system will:

  • Make it easier for locals and visitors to explore Auckland.
  • Give Auckland’s signage a consistent and modern look, supporting our aspiration to make Auckland the world’s most liveable city.
  • Help promote active travel and healthy lifestyles.

AT are or will be soon trialling the proposed new signage in four locations across Auckland and are seeking feedback from the public on it. Here are the locations:

  • Grafton Gully cycleway (will be installed by the middle of the year)
  • Wynyard Quarter (being installed now)
  • New Lynn (this includes Avondale and Fruitvale Rd train stations)
  • Northcote shopping centre

I’ve seen some of the signage at the train stations but only from a passing train and so haven’t had an opportunity to study it up close. Even from a distance though, I’ve been pleased with some of the changes at the train stations, for example the inclusion of a line map showing only what stations are left.

Below are some images provided by the team working on this project.

Regional Signage

If you want to make a submission, they are open till April 29. There will also be two open day type events.

  • Thur 14 April 2 – 4pm – Outside the New Lynn Public Library in Memorial Square
  • Wed 27 April 10 – 12pm – Outside Viaduct Events Centre, Karanga Plaza

Street signs have had a varied history in recent years. The legacy councils all had their own designs. The 37% of streets covered by Auckland City, Franklin and Papakura councils all used blue signs while the remaining 63% of streets covered by Manukau, North Shore, Rodney and Waitakere all used green signs.

In October 2013 green signs started appearing on some streets of the old Auckland City Council, something AT said was caused by a contractor making a mistake. They also said they would make a formal decision in mid 2014 on what colour to use. Then just a month later they announced all signs would go green as they were replaced as part of normal maintenance.

But yesterday he disclosed that an “executive” decision was made on October 25 to go all green – although by gradual process. “It will be done slowly and over many years with no additional cost to ratepayers.

“When a blue sign reaches the end of its useful life – for instance due to vandalism, fading, rusting – it will be replaced by a green sign.” He said 63 per cent of the city’s signs were already green.

I recall at the time some residents from suburbs near the city aghast that the blue would be changed out.

Last year as part of the Dominion Rd Parallel Cycle Routes project, AT conducted a trial of a new design but many complained they were difficult to read. The signs used a dark blue background

New signs peppering streets around Auckland’s Dominion Rd may have to be “re-skinned” to make them easier for motorists to read, the city’s transport authority admits.

Auckland Transport said yesterday that some drivers had complained lettering on the dark blue “way-finding” signs is not large enough for them to make out.

“Initial feedback is that the typeface … is too small, particularly if you are driving,” said marketing general manager Mike Loftus. “This is certainly something we will be reviewing.”

Based on the image above and on AT’s website it seems we’re now back to a lighter blue with the darker signs used for PT and walking/cycling. I wonder how many more times AT will change their mind about the colour?

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  1. I reckon AT should make the AT Metro logo bigger to make it stand out more.
    Makes it easier to find public transport for those not from the area.

    Also maybe AT should put out map on most bus stops with the routes the bus on that particular bus stop. Would be very very helpful to those not really use to the bus system in Auckland.

  2. I’d like a local area map like the New Lynn town centre sign at train stations. I really appreciate those when I’m using PT overseas.

  3. One of the most frustrating things about Auckland street signage is the way that they must assume that ‘everybody knows’ the big thoroughfares. I recall my and my wife’s experience, when we first arrived in the city from the US, in 1973, going for miles along, say, Hillsboro Road – but not, of course, being sure we were on Hillsboro Road. The cross streets are labelled – but ‘everyone knows you are on Hillsboro Road!’ And this hasn’t really got all that much better in 43 years. I suppose it’s just cost-savings – but it’s frustrating. Additionally troublesome because some of the main thoroughfares change name along the way. If you are looking for an address on Blockhouse Road or something …

    Lucky I mostly use public transport – though even there, if you weren’t sure what street you were on, you might not know where to get off.


    1. It’s like when you’re on the Motorway and all the signs are to specific roads rather than to suburbs, making the same assumption that everyone knows down to street level where they are…

        1. No its not,
          “Gillies Ave” has always appeared on motorway signs for the off-ramp, the words Newmarket and Airport are recent additions though. As did other motorway exits (like “Market Road”, “Khyber Pass” to name a couple of more obvious ones).

          And like other commentators said, unless you *knew* that for example Gillies Ave was the main route to the Airport or the way to get to Newmarket you were kinda screwed when coming from the north or west as what exits to use for Newmarket or the Airport.

      1. The problem with having suburbs on the main signs is the definition of a suburb can be a bit nebulous, and also there can be multiple suburbs off each exit, especially the South-eastern Highway for example. It’s pretty common around the world to use specific names or numbers for exits.

    2. Yes absolutely agree on the main road one, for years getting lost driving around when visiting out west particularly before GPS etc days, what is this fricken main road?! (ps I suspect GPS have helped traffic congestion, due to the not driving around lost thing..unless it’s a cheap GPS etc!).

      The modern sign / logo design all seems to be going small lower case font, trendy look maybe but impractical. Too much white space and fonts too small! Older people must find it hard to see them.

    3. I think that was an Auckland city council thing, the areas with the green signs seemed to be much better with street signs in all directions.

  4. I think they should add downtown maybe in brackets next to britomart, and midtown next to the future Aotea station. How will visitors know when they are actually in auckland central if there is no named central city stations. It might be obvious to locals but anyone visiting perhaps not.

  5. One sign I’ve looked for recently that wasn’t as visible as I think it should be was at the Broadway entrance to the walkway to Newmarket Station. I was heading south on Broadway (knowing the walkway was somewhere near) and was practically at the entrance before I spotted the signage. This is a handy connection, but not obvious.

      1. Not just Newmarket. The totally low-key approach to Britomarts eastern entrance must confuse plenty of non-locals…. But then, AT pretty much underplays everything else at this entry, so at least that’s consistent!

    1. I agree, they could do this by having notes on the foot path “Newmarket station 100m —>” or something like that.

  6. Everyone has a blinking phone with maps and gps that can talk in swahili and what not. We don’t really need so much of this signage to get us where we need to go. I’d rather AT repair the pothole on my road that can swallow small animals and children. Sounds like more money that will be wasted replacing a gajillion signs that don’t need to be replaced like they have been doing already. Sometimes I wish we’d just get rid of all signage and adverts through the whole city.

    1. Don’t be daft, That’s like saying remove all road signs because “everyone” has a GPS.
      If you want to remove unnecessary signage then ugly advertising hoardings should be the first to go.
      And if you want potholes repaired then you need to vote in a Government which does not blow the entire transport budget on a few grandiose, unnecessary motorways.

  7. Those signs they trialled around Dominion Road were absolutely horrendous! Hard enough trying to read them as a pedestrian/cyclist let alone trying to read them as a driver in a car!
    1) They were too small physically
    2) The lettering was also too small
    3) The colour scheme was hard to read (particularly at night).

    Signs need to be easy to read from a distance and also at night (reflective letters help).

  8. I am wondering should they put some digital sign on busy streets that shows dynamic, real time information.

    Information could include:
    -Upcoming community events
    -Transit information
    -Tourist info such as map with points of interest

  9. Large, simple realtime displays in the street at the approach to station entrances would be really helpful, especially at major stations. “Just missing” the train is one of the more frustrating experiences for regular PT customers.

  10. The AT Wayfinding project has been going for at least 18 months – Walk Auckland and other key stakeholders were shown mockups of some early prototypes in mid 2014. Our immediate response was that the street names on the blade signs were too small (the blades were about the same size but having a row of icons along the bottom reduced the space for the name by about a third). In addition there was an illogical assumption that AT corporate blue (a very dark blue) was the best base colour. A street trial at 6 locations followed in December 2014 using AT blue and the small lettering – leading to widespread criticism that the signs were not very legible, especially at night. So I am pleased to see that the background colour is the well tested medium blue with large lowercase lettering in white. Any supplementary information or icons will appear on a separate panel clipped to the lower edge of the blade – not such a slick design but far more practical. Looking forward to the open day to see how the signs work out in the street rather than in the lab.

  11. Glad they have come to there senses with the street signs – same (or near same) colours as Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Levin to name but three places.

    I’ve found from experience that all capital letters still makes the street sign much easier to read in a hurry then mixed case, and I’m unsure why then need the chevron on the end, as it should be obvious which road it is naming from the direction(s) it is pointing. When in doubt with reference signage, less is more and remember always remember KISS 🙂

    1. Some street signs are on the “wrong” side of the street (where it is impractical to put one on the “right” side), so the chevron points across the street, and where roads change names, there can be two signs on the same pole. And iaren’t the chevrons reflectorised?

  12. On the contrary – a lower case word with initial capital, is easier to discern/guess from a distance because lower case letters have distinctive shapes, tails, uprights, etc., whereas upper case words all read from a distance as rectangles. Motorway signs are lower case for that reason. And the chevrons are often necessary to indicate whether the street name is only in one direction or continues on the other side of the street. And wouldn’t it be cheaper and more elegant if we replaced the chevron with a rectangle for a no-exit street, instead of messy clip-ons?

  13. The blue signs as shown in the picture for Pearn Place and Crescent are definitely the way to go, easy to ready from about 100 metres away. I don’t know about putting the signs on the “wrong” sides of the road though, because where I have seen them there is usually room on the “right” side of the road. I believe there needs to be more thought put into signage on main thoroughfares, because other than a route number every so often, there is usually not much else to distinguish them from other roads in the area.
    Even putting different coloured road markings on the main thoroughfare routes would help. They do it on the motorways when temporary markings are painted orange so there is no reason why it can’t be done in town.

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