Auckland Transport yesterday opened consultation on the proposed Te Whau Pathway, a 12km walking and cycling link between the Manukau and Waitemata harbours, mostly following the Whau river. Once fully completed in an estimated 5-8 years, the pathway is expected to connect 33 reserves, esplanade strips, sports parks, and roads along it’s route.

AT say some of the benefits of the project are

  • Provide safer, more convenient connections to the city centre and within neighbouring suburbs.
  • Offer better connections to 13 schools, and access to the Northwestern Cycleway and the proposed New Lynn to Avondale Shared Path.
  • Maximise opportunities to experience the Whau River, and improve access to the river for small boats and kayaks.
  • Offer new spaces for recreation (such as fishing and bird watching) and education.
  • Improve the natural environment through a clean-up of the water’s edge, restoration, and weed removal following construction.
  • Attract tourists and visitors from other neighbourhoods.

Here’s a map of what’s ultimately proposed and as you can see, some parts are already completed.

A few thoughts I’ve had about the proposal

  • I wonder if the option to straighten some of the route, especially near the NW motorway and at the New Lynn ends. I don’t think that would diminish the recreational value of the path but it could help make it more appealing for other journeys too. For example in the future we hope to have the NW busway with a station somewhere around Te Atatu and this path, if designed well, could provide an easy connection to that station for many residents in Glendene and Te Atatu South.
  • Likewise at the other end, the proposal seems to make no effort to improve connections to New Lynn which seems like a missed opportunity. Sure it connects to the New Lynn to Avondale path alongside the railway but a more direct connection from the North seems like it would be useful too.
  • As well as the path along the river, it seems a good opportunity to also provide some connections across the river too, to better link in the Rosebank peninsula. Some of the associated documentation suggests a future project of a bridge as an extension of Hepburn Rd.
  • AT say it will be a minimum of 3m wide however browsing through the various scheme plans shows suggests that all the boardwalk sections will be 4m with the narrower sections being those on land and through reserves. Could it not be kept 4m the entire route?
  • As mentioned earlier, the obvious intention of this is for recreational use however the completed section shown to the east of New Lynn is the existing cycle lanes on Portage Rd. These however are only paint and the lanes are often located outside parked cars. Unless there is an intention to improve this, which the documents indicate there isn’t, then this section won’t be used by families or less confident cyclists.

One thing important to note is AT say the boardwalks will be designed to account for sea level rise over the next 50 years

The pathway has been designed to last for 50 years. Because of predicted sea-level rise, the boardwalk has to be built for the predicted sea level in 50 year’s time, in a major storm event. A coastal processes assessment has estimated the sea level in year 2070 during a severe storm to be 3.46m (AVD-46 Datum) or 5.20m (Chart Datum). As a comparison, the current high tide generally spans between 1.2m to 1.8m (AVD-46 Datum).

The bottom of the boardwalk will be built at 3.5m. Any level lower than this will be a case-by-case scenario to be confirmed in detailed design. The height of boardwalk is yet to be confirmed and options to minimise the structure’s thickness are being explored.

Overall I find the path intriguing and has the potential to really improve connections to many of the communities along the route which are disconnected by not only geography but also in many cases, poor street networks. It certainly has the potential to be another of the fantastic recreational paths we’ve been building or have planned and I can imagine it will be something people will jump on the train to New Lynn with their bikes to ride along. With a few tweaks could also be much more functional for other trips too.

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  1. I think this path has a lot of potential.

    What sort of cost are we looking at? Given the type of terrain being covered I’m guessing it won’t be cheap.

    1. Most of the funding is intended to come from private sources so get your ratepayer radar back in the box 🙂

      So far local boards have only provided some minor funding for planning concept work and for the easy and cheap 3m wide concrete paths within the existing reserves.

      Haven’t seen a total anywhere, but agree it will be huge.

  2. Looks great, but essential that it is wide enough for walkers, leisure riders and commuting riders in a future of electric bikes. Parts of the light path are already to skinny

    1. Not much. Most of the funding is intended to come from private sources, such as Trusts. So actually buyers of alcohol in the west will be paying for it, not ratepayers. See other comment above.

      1. The pathway looks great but to describe money from the Licensing Trusts as “Private Sources” takes a fecund imagination. They are publicly owned businesses with publicly elected Trustees.

        Diverting the Trusts fund to the pathway will have some significant effect on the existing recipients of the Trusts funds for some time.

        Again, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but please be transparent about where the funding will come from

    2. And why WOULD this be a bad use of rates? Our rates go on much worse things. This is a community initiative, a health initiative, an environmental initiative and a transport initiative. You don’t tend to get that many benefits in one package normally.

  3. I like this, I wish there could be more of these types of paths. From there educational and recreational values alone I think if they are done well they can be great. I would be good if there are some provisional included to teach people about the history and wildlife of the areas they are walking though plus some areas to do bird watching or something as well.

    I agree there needs to be better connectivity to New Lynn or at least future proofing so these connections can be added later. Where were you thinking about a connection with Rosebank Peninsula ? How far down the Whau river do boaties go (or are they limited to operating near the te Atatu boat club?

    1. The documents talk about a long term goal of one basically carrying Hepburn Rd straight across the river but I was thinking too might be better and based on only a high level look, I’d go for
      -McLeod to Patiki Rd (would tie in nicely with NW Cycleway connection)
      -Archibald to Avondale Rd

    2. I do sort of remember seeing a line on a map at some point going from, yes, somewhere in Hepburn road area. However I seem to remember this didn’t go from Laurieston Park to Saunders Reserve where the rowing club launch from, but more from Bancroft Cresent to the middle of Kurt Brehmer Walkway. If you look at satellite photo rather than map there is a big island of mangrove offshore from Bancroft Cresent that is presumably shallow and easier to span. However I can find no evidence of this so I don’t know where I remember it from!! It’s not in the local boards greenways plan for example

      One of the sections of the Te Whau draft scheme plan is labelled “navigable” and so I presume that any boardwalk across the Whau would be similarly “navigable”.

      I hope that the boardwalk across from Rata Street to Rizal Reserve will be “navigable” because plenty of people kayak up there. It’s not labelled “navigable” on the Te Whau draft scheme plan and that omission was part of my submission. The boardwalk across very close to Olympic Park doesn’t need to be “navigable” as just beyond there is a big barrier anyway.

  4. Can’t come soon enough. Will be awesome. Just hope there are good connections to the water because this is what will make it great.

  5. Are Ngati Whatua involved? Given the location I would hope so.

    I hope it isn’t too windy and goes more or less in the direction between two given points. I also hope that it has an appropriate covering over whatever materials are used for construction that avoids the bone-shattering effects of wooden planks, and doesn’t need frequent maintenance from mangrove leaves and other slime-causing detritus.

    This needs to be appropriate for those on a gentle Saturday ride, but it also needs to suit those using it as a piece of transport infrastructure.

  6. Regarding connections – I’d like to see more made of wider connections / routes to access it rather than just thinking about just the ones immediately off the path.

    For example the planned connection onto Wingate Street provides a great opportunity for a quiet route right into Avondale town centre. I’d like to see some traffic calming at the end of Wingate and a gateway artwork to welcome people onto the route.

    Also, the connection at Rata Street ends at Cunard Street. I think shared path could continue along Rata, with cycle crossing at Binstead and raised table at entrance of Reid and then to the existing path round the back of Caspian Cl and over the bridge to Hugh Brown, thus providing another link into the heart of New Lynn.

    And I’d like to see the shared path on the Rata – Ash bridge upgraded to same 3m concrete standard. And it would be idyllic if the boardwalk from there to Tony Sedgin Esplanade / Canal Street was upgraded to same standard – particularly since AT say they will not provide cycle infrastructure along Ash – they could provide it along Canal instead.

    Another missing wider connecting route is from Glen Eden. If there was a way to safely cross Gt North Road somewhere this could link to the network of greenways in Kelston shown on the map above.

    And then there are zero proposed greenways shown on the map in Glendene and Te Atatu South, but I don’t know that area to comment.

  7. “AT say it will be a minimum of 3m wide however browsing through the various scheme plans shows suggests that all the boardwalk sections will be 4m with the narrower sections being those on land and through reserves. Could it not be kept 4m the entire route”

    Would definitely support the widening to 4m – in fact I would love to do this ( and separate fully – but an element of caution re the 4m wide boardwalks. The fact is that a boardwalk has railings – i.e. riders cannot go as close to the edge as they can on normal paths that have grass strips next to them. So a 4m wide boardwalk is much closer, in practical use, to a 3m wide normal path. Effectively, if we widen the general path to 4m, we would then want to widen the boardwalks and bridges to at least 4.5-5m to keep the beneficial effect consistent.

    1. Personally I’d rather stick with 3m + 4m allowing it to be funded sooner and with a longer number of km’s of connecting paths and quiet ways and wayfinding, than to have a wider path that would cost more.

      1. Well, I can see that argument. I also see a lot of the argument that we’ll improve the quality standards on the NEXT project, just not on THIS one… have a look at that Dutch path. That’s what we should be aiming for. When will we actually START building them, though, if we always go for the cheaper and 1-2m narrower options…

        Not saying the project is bad at 3m. Just that I really wish we’d start lifting our game, for the benefit of both transport cycling AND walking.

        1. When will infrastructure get wider? When we have % of people cycling closer to Dutch levels!

        2. The problem is that narrower shared paths actively limit path attractiveness, and thus regular use – and make pedestrians angry at cyclists, especially at those who are cycling at speed, or using e-bikes. Yet if we don’t provide for those, then we are limiting uptake.

          You are of course right – it is an iterative process, and a (virtuous) cycle. We will get better infra because we will get more riders because we get better infra… etc… but we also need to PUSH for that better infra!

        3. I don’t really get why anyone would be angry at cyclists on a shared path, they are a far cry from the motorists bowling people over at driveways and parking across the footpaths…

        4. That’s easy to explain — cyclists would be taking away the few leftover slivers of space where they’re still safe from cars.

    1. This is part of the draft New Lynn Avondale cycle network, announced last month. And what’s more it’s not just a wishful line on a map, but it is a bullet point too! It is a “potential 2018-28 programme” item.

      Although whether this would actually extend all the way to the train station is another matter. It’s certainly simple for much of Rosebank Peninsula, but a few hundred m from Avondale Road it starts to get almost as difficult as Ash and Gt North Road!

    2. Wouldn’t it be great if the cycle path could link up across the Whau – say Hepburn Place right over to Saunders Place (off Rosebank Road). I’m presuming that no-one goes up Whau in anything bigger than a waka anyway, so it is not as if you would be cutting off any navigable way?

      1. There is a growing number of students who chose Avondale college over others and a connection to Avondale would help.

    3. I fully agree. I use Rosebank Road often to get from home in Avondale to Te Atatu peninsula. Much of it is good for cycling with no parking lanes on either side which gives an adequate clearance for cycling however the worst sections in my opinion are:

      Patiki Road, entire section due to the number of heavy vehicle movements. The whole street is wide enough to support a cycle path either by sharing the under-utilised footpaths or by banning parked cars from the roadside.
      Rosebank Road & Avondale Road lights – there is little room to move with two lanes of traffic so tightly packed together. Often have to use the footpath and pedestrian crossing before merging back onto the road further up. There needs to be a green box at the head of the intersection for both north and southbound.
      Rosebank Road & Ash Street lights (this is a known black spot) – for exact reasons as the above

  8. West, East and North are all getting dedicated recreational shared path. The South however has been left to the automobiles. No dedicated cycle ways nor share path that can attract recreational and commuter usage.

    1. Onehunga to Mangere, Wattle downs, great south rd, I don’t live there but that’s what I know of………. they aren’t left out. Also I though I saw something planned for Papakura.

    2. Cheer up we get East West link shared path instead :p All those miles of cycleway/linear prison/excess noise exposure experiment

  9. Cycleway of national significance? Love it and I like the curves where it follows the contours of the estuary.

    Due to the need to future-proof, it will sit quite high which is all the more reason to give this wonderful potential infrastructure a sinuous, organic, flowing sort of look. Like a stream within a larger estuary. Straightening would add only a few seconds of journey time. I do think there is potential for deeper “commuter” connections into the surrounding suburbs – New Lynn especially. Fund this properly and don’t compromise – heck it is election year!

    1. Ha ha. Good question. Well they are “visionary” and “aspirational” but they hope to “build on the existing walking, cycling
      and ecological networks” and to “encourage people in these communities to get active” by introducing “dedicated walking and cycling routes away from busy streets” that “connect into schools, local shops, libraries and community centres” while also encouraging “opportunities for ecological restoration”.

      Whether what is shown on the map can achieve that is another matter as they do seem quite patchy and not very connected. And that’s leaving aside the glacial pace of progress in actually getting anything built.

    1. Those sweeping boardwalk curves are actually more direct than it could have been. Originally there was planned to be more on land sections which would have been even more circuitous as it would have followed the coast more. The vocal nimbys (a Whau local board member described them as “foaming at the mouth”) that have forced the path to leave the land in all but existing reserves and a few tiny sections have actually done a favour for directness as the boardwalks cut corners.

  10. Is it possible to have the railings just below handlebar height? Would enable people to ride closer to the railings and make for better use of the space

  11. Regarding the section from Olympic park to the Manukau Harbour along Portage Road, you’re being a bit unfair by saying no improvements are planned. The shared path which currently comes to an abrupt halt at Kinross Street is planned to be continued all the way to the shore at Karaka Park involving 2 new safe(r) crossings, 5 new cycle ramps and the loss of 7 car parks. In New Lynn the intersection of Clark and Portage will be improved for pedestrians / cyclists crossing as pedestrians along with some advanced stop boxes too.

    But yes, the just paint on-road sections of Portage need protection, such as a parking on the outside design a la Island Bay or Carton Gore.

  12. Be good if they can also make a nice link between the Waikowhai-Onehunga bay boardwalk and the Whau River pathway.

    1. I’d like to see a walking track around 100% of the Auckland city coast, and the nimby’s who have encroached on public land can fuck right off.

  13. This is a marvelous idea, I have lived and had recreation around Avondale & Te Atatu South for 50 years and longed for better access to the Whau.
    We kayak the river periodically and launched my first boat at the ramp at Mead St. Unfortunately it is a bit late for me to cycle, but one day I could use my mobility scooter.
    whatever happened to the planned bridge across the Whau from the bottom of McLeod Rd to Rosebank? Surely that would relieve a lot of traffic from the NW motorway from Patiki Rd ramps to/from Henderson.

    1. That bridge was only ever an “advocacy” project of the local board and that was the auto-friendly local board elected in 2010 who also wanted to 4-lane Rosebank (hence why the junction with Jomac Place was supersized).

      Thankfully the local board elected in 2013 had a different view and the advocacy for the bridge and wider roads was dropped in favour of support for walking and cycling greenways.

      Building new roads doesn’t relive congestion, it just induces more traffic leading to more congestion.

      A cycle to work scheme for Rosebank businesses and a walk or cycle to school scheme for Avondale College and Rosebank Primary would do much more to reduce congestion.

  14. If you are building a boardwalk over mangroves anyway, why on earth would you deliberately put curves in it? There are no curves on the NW motorway causeway, there shouldn’t be any beyond those needed to clear the constraints here either.

    1. I agree with Sailor Boy. Adding unnecessary curves simply adds to the cost and makes the distance longer for both pedestrians and cyclists.

      1. Make sure you submit in favour of the project then, but suggest straightening as a design change. The route and design are not fixed that’s what this consultation is for.

  15. I’m seeing fresh rumblings of discontent (dare I say nimbyism) emanating from riverside residents on Neighbourly, so do make sure you submit and make your voice heard if you see positives in this project – as there will certainly be some vocal complaints about its purported negatives, both in writing and at the public meetings.

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