Auckland’s hills help to define our city, sometimes they’re a blessing, sometimes they can be a bit of curse but occasionally they also present a unique opportunity. Nick, who regularly comments and sometimes posts here, has been part of a group working recently to unlock one of those opportunities, the Albert Park tunnels and their plan is now public following their presentation to the City Centre Advisory Board.

The idea is to open up the and restore the tunnels that were dug under Albert Park during WW2 as an air-raid shelter. Following the war, they were backfilled with clay blocks and sealed.

The main tunnel runs 660m, all the way from the eastern end of Victoria St through to Churchill St and is 4.4m wide and 3m tall. There are also a lot of smaller tunnels off that too. So, why not make use of them?

The basic concept is to re-open the tunnels and turn the main tunnel into a walking and cycling route with connections to the University via some lifts. Doing so would provide a much easier, grade than up and over Symonds St and Albert Park while improving connections from the City Centre to locations such as Parnell. They’ve called this Te Ara Tomo – The Underline and is shown below

Importantly, it would link in perfectly with existing and planned walking, cycling and PT networks. For example, it would create a new cross-town cycle link, connecting the Grafton Gully cycleway into the Victoria St Linear Park, which is also happens to be connected through Queen St where Light Rail will one day run and to the future Aotea Station. The lifts at Symonds St would also hook into the Symonds St buses.

This just gives another reason as to why it’s important we preserve the Victoria St Linear Park and not accept Auckland Transport running bus routes along the road.

Leaving Aotea Station onto the Linear Park, looking towards Albert Park

And there’s no shortage of potential users of the concept. Here are some from their presentation.

40,000 students at University of Auckland

  • Approximately 30,000 on any given day
  • Over 70% currently walk, cycle or take public transport to campus
  • 13,000 a day walk to and from campus from bus, train, ferry stops in town
  • Many more walk from apartments and flats in town, Carlaw Park, Parnell.

100,000 commuters to City Centre

  • approximately 50% walk, cycle or public transport, many potential trips:
  • 400 people live in Parnell and walk to work midtown each day (Census 2013)
  • 1000s catch eastern bus routes and walk back up from Britomart

50,000 residents live within in the City Centre

  • and they walk everywhere.

Plus local and international tourists, day trippers, recreational cyclists…

Given the potential it offers, they’ve estimated that conservatively, it could see 3,000-3,500 entries per weekday or over 750k per year.

As part of opening up the tunnels it also provides an opportunity to turn it into a piece of urban art with a new lining. Some examples from overseas include

While the walking and cycling through the main tunnel is the key concept, it’s not the only one. There are after all 3.5km of tunnels under there. Some possible ideas for use include:

  • Historical displays and a mini museum
  • Art displays
  • Tourist and retail opportunities, such as:
    • a wine cave, showcasing New Zealand wines at “cellar door”
    • a cheese cave, showcasing some of New Zealand’s premium dairy products
    • a Waitomo Caves style glowworm encounter

By now you might be asking just what this is going to cost. They say McConnell Dowell have prepared some costs to reinstate the tunnels and install the lifts, lighting etc. They say the main tunnel and lifts would cost around $14 million, an extra $2-3 million for additional space for the other ideas mentioned above, and $1-2 million for planning, consenting, traffic management and tunnel surfacing. All up it would be around $17-19 million. They are also looking at doing this commercially with users paying a small fee to use the tunnels, along with money from the other activities.

To me, even if just looking the project from a walking and cycling perspective, the cost seems pretty reasonable given how useful it would be. It would also add to other iconic cycleways the city is building including Lightpath, Skypath and Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr (hopefully alongside the rail line through Hobson Bay).

Overall this seems like a great project and one the council should quickly look to add to it’s plans as it reviews and refreshes the likes of the City Centre Master Plan.

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152 comments

    1. Hi Shivani, travellators are an option but there actually quite slow in practice and tend to move masses of people slower than just plain old walking (because many people stop and stand on them). Also with the width of the tunnel by the time you put in two travelators there isnt much room left, which would make it very cramped for cyclists and others walking without the travellators.

      1. That’s almost uniquely a New Zealand thing i’ve found, one of our quirks. You go to any major international city, and travellators/escalators are actually used as transit tools; people keep on walking and simply use them to go faster. If you don’t walk it’s straight to the left to let other people past.

        In New Zealand they’re something you hop on and stand there gormlessly until it reaches the end – a method of avoiding exertion.

        1. Actually I was basing that off the system planning documentation from Kone and Schindler. Walking on them can, somewhat paradoxically, reduce throughput capacity too. That’s because a person walking takes up three to four times as much room as one standing, but only moves about twice as fast.

          Very fascinating aspect of transport planning that I was not previously familiar with.

        2. Disagree, I travel a lot and on all travellators or escalators I’ve been on people stand still as well as others waking. Not a unique thing to NZ at all. You say so much yourself that some people stand and others walk. The exact same happens in NZ and would happen here which is what Nick is saying, hence why they make no sense and look ugly in what is a small space.

          1. Why the obsession with travelators? We’re not planning on putting them in on Queen St, so why here. They are great for large airports when people who have no desire to walk have to often walk significant distances, but I don’t think people with no desire to walk are the target market for this tunnel.

          2. Peak flow will run in both directions at the same time. People will use it to travel from Victoria St to the university, from Parnell to the University, from Parnell to Victoria St, from Symonds St to Victoria St, from Parnell to Symonds st, etc.

            It’s the same distance as walking from Britomart to Victoria St, if you are going from end to end. if you are going from Victoria to the Princes St lifts its the same as walking from the Civic Theatre to the Town Hall. It doesn’t need travellators.

    2. Yes, well that’s fine. ( not properly thought through ) But have the brains trust thought about possibly installing a ‘ mag lev ‘ system. It would work as such : Each person upon entering the tunnel, would pay a $7 levy to hire a pair of magnetic shoes for a month. The breaking and accelerating would be done by a hand held control wand . There would be padding lining the tunnel walls, (with artwork done by south Auckland primary school students ) and for extra safety, elbow pads and helmets would be picked up upon entry. Lighting would be powered by hundreds of small windmills, strategically placed on nearby structures outside, and the lights themselves would be a mixture of lasers and strobes. Music could be pumped in also, to provide a complete sensory experience, to rival the worlds best tunnels.
      For the finer details you can contact me directly.. although you will have to prove your serious.
      [email protected]
      Thanks

      1. And Mcconnell Dowell aren’t just any contractor. They’ve got a huge amount of experience in tunneling. Some of the big jobs they’ve recently been involved in include Waterview, Rosedale WWTP Outfall, Hobson Bay Tunnel, and Enabling Contract 2 for the CRL. If they’re saying it can be done, it can be done.

    1. Andrew, do bear in mind that this is a case of re-lining an existing tunnel, not starting from scratch. And the cost estimate is the basic works to make it safe and habitable, all the fit out and other bits will cost more obviously.

      1. Oh and perfectly safe: four public entries, up to two more emergency or service exits, fireproof construction with sprinkler system and ventilation, CCTV and security staff, active management of entry numbers… and plenty of people around at all times.

        These are actually quite common abroad, no different to an underground train station etc.

        You’ll be safer in here than on the tenth floor of an office building, or in the waterview tunnel for that matter.

      2. “Andrew, do bear in mind that this is a case of re-lining an existing tunnel, not starting from scratch”

        The former tunnel no longer exists, it was backfilled almost to the ceiling, and the wooden lining has rotted well past any usable state. I’ve seen inside the entrance myself, and can assure you it is a pretty solid backfill. There’s a small cavity near the top, but nothing useful for gaining access.

        You are most certainly looking at a new build from scratch.

        On lovely summer days would people rather stroll through Albert Park, or use an underground tunnel? Perhaps some demand modelling is required?

        1. That is largely correct Geoff, the tunnels exist but they have been filled with clay blocks and the original linings have rotted away. All of which is accounted for in the construction programme developed by McConnell Dowell, which is to excavate the fill and install new reinforced concrete linings. This is different from digging a new tunnel however, and considerably cheaper and faster.

          If you are talking about having seen inside the entrance, I assume you are talking about the door on Kitchener Street to tunnel No.6. This section of the portal has collapsed not far behind the door. This is a solid mass of soil yes, not the clay blocks. But this is only in the portal area close to the surface where there is topsoil, not the rocky deeper ground that the majority of the tunnel complex is built in.

          We are not proposing to open tunnel 6 at all. The investigations of the main tunnel show a distinct tunnel through the rock filled with separate clay blocks, you can see that in the pictures.

          Demand modelling has been completed already, this is in the linked presentation. Taking into account a range of factors including propensity to walk through a paid route and the attractiveness of alternative routes, the conservative estimate is still over 3,000 entries per day. That’s a fairly small fraction of the 50 to 60,000 people that move to and across the Albert Park-University area on a typical weekday.

          And I can tell you one thing from experience. From four years of walking between city centre bus stops and the campus, doing that literally a thousand times, I can tell you that a pleasant stroll though the park on lovely summer days is very much the exception to the rule when it comes to commuting to university. Most of the summer is spent on holiday of course, with classes occurring mostly during the wet and cold months. Even on the nice days students live busy lives and don’t usually get to promenade through the park before 8am lectures, let alone take time to enjoy the ten storey climb up the side of a veritable cliff face.

          There is a reason all the shop fronts in town have a verandah on them, a reason why bus stops have shelters, indeed a reason why the university itself has spent a lot of money erecting canopies over the main paths between the quarters of the campus.

        2. On “lovely” summer days, hiking up to albert park is such a slog! When I was at uni I hated going up there from the bus stop, it’s so steep. And in winter it’s not much better.

          1. Indeed, in Auckland’s hot humid summers a slog rapidly turns into a very uncomfortable and sweaty experience. Not the best way to start an day of lectures and classes.

    2. 75 year old timbers that have been in the damp? Tunnels that were basically just knocked through as a short term measure? Bet you it would be cheaper and safer to drill a new tunnel beside them than try and dig out the clay and replace them.

      1. Read the presentation Miffy. Timbers are gone, rotted away long ago.

        Construction method is to clear the tunnel holes of fill and spoil, line with steel reinforcing mesh, secure with rock bolts and soil nails, and shotcrete over.

      2. Lining tunnels are standard practice now. Cost will be much cheaper than importing a boring machine or completing massive cut and cover operations.

  1. Fantastic. It must go ahead but it will have to be done well. Underground footpaths must be safe, graffitti free, clean and no unpleasant odours – which is no great expense just positive planning and appropriate resources.

  2. So there is going to be staffed entries with payment infra since its a commercial operation. I’m sure that will appeal to students who could use it multiple times daily. Maybe these could be HOP with gating Plus paper ticketing.
    That should keep out the homeless and street kids etc.
    Wine and cheese while you ponder on the wondrous glowing insects.
    It will also be interesting to see the osh needs to separate the walk and cycle modes

    1. Unless uni students have changed a lot since I was there, no one is going to pay ‘a small fee’ to save a few minutes walk – unless that small fee is like 10c or something…
      I guess people would pay if its raining (which is most of the uni year)

        1. You could treat it similar the the Citylink maybe so with Hop would be around 50c but free if transferring from another service as you have already paid City Zone Fare. The Cash Fares could be a little higher like other PT services.

          1. A lot of 50 cents = a lot of $.
            Assuming it’s integrated into HOP people arriving by bus or train will be making an integrated journey so not paying an additional fare.
            Those unwilling to spend a little can use current alternatives, so I see no issue with a fare. Additionally entry will have to be managed for safety and security so some sort of gating will be required; surely users should at least contribute to its construction and upkeep?

          2. We’re focussing on something like the ‘city link’ model. You’ll be surprised the amount of people (students especially) that pay a buck to ride 500m up queen st.

            And if it can be administered the same as the City Link, within the AT zone system with free transfers for people who have already arrived by bus train or ferry, then that’s totally seamless and effectively free to the user.

          3. I’d prefer it free. Has AT fixed its HOP system for kids yet? Don’t want to be in town with 5 kids and have to pay $2 for each one each way because they don’t have HOP cards… I think it’s a great idea, is part of our history, and I really don’t like up to $20m of public money being used on something that then requires a top up. 50 c is a miniscule or a considerable proportion of people’s disposable income.

            Anyone have any experience with inviting homeless and streetkids to be part of a design so their needs are met without creating problems for others?

          4. Making it free for kids only will be resisted though by people wanting to keep the street kids out. ‘Happy City’ had an example about engaging with the local drunks to find what they needed in a park… and that worked. Any idea if that sort of thing has been tried in Auckland, and if it could be useful for this project?

          5. Free obviously. Paid for by concessions which will probably mainly be selling fatten fast food with fizzy drink suitable for the over-weight pedestrian. And at least one vegetarian Indian with takeaway masala dosas just for me.

          6. Might have to have a walk through Albert Park afterwards just to burn some calories off? 🙂

  3. A stroke of genius, and great value for money.

    The main challenge would be security and keeping the CBD vagrants from turning it into a cesspit of petty crime and antisocial behaviour. Assume it wouldn’t be open 24/7? Maybe 6am-10pm?

    1. Ugh 24/7 would be preferred, not much PT outside those hours so walking routes become even more important. Not all crime/antisocial behavior is during the night.

      There are people working at night, there is night life and stuff going on too, if anything Auckland needs to encourage this more as opposed to inhibiting it with annoying operating hours. More night life means more people out and about giving a safer atmosphere. The dead nights in Auckland brought on by limited trading hours, PT operating hours and etc. cause nights to become a safety problem in the first place imho.

    2. The tunnel would be managed the same way as Britomart or other public facilities, there will be active security, cameras, lighting treatment and most likely closing hours overnight.

    3. I don’t feel safe walking through the city at the best of times. The beggars and street people intimidate me. No one polices it or challenges their behaviour. How do you plan to keep them from running rampant in here?

      1. A few ways, firstly the tunnel will have fare gates and will only be accessible to legitamate users. The space would be similar to Britomart station (behind the fare gates), and also similar to a shopping mall, art gallery, museum in that it is a publicly accessible private space. Generally accessible to the public but with a series of conditions of use moderating behavior (like a mall, shop, museum etc) rather than a fundamental right for anyone to be there (like a street).

        Not sitting down or loitering within the transport tunnel will be a condition of entry that will need to be enforced to meet the operations safety plan. The same way that you can’t sit on the stairs in a movie theatre so you don’t block the emergency egress paths.

        Secondly it will be actively managed by the tunnel operating company, that will include staff on site at all times, and CCTV monitoring of every inch of the route. There would also be a help point with intercom and alarm located every 50m, like you see on trains and train stations.

        Thirdly, the business model is based around high occupancy, with lots of people around at any given time giving great passive surveillance.

        Fourthly the environment will be designed to create an interesting environment to pass through and experience, through lighting and interior fit out. It however probably wont be a comfortable environment to live in.

  4. What? They’ve had tunnels there and I was walking over Albert Park’s hill all those years? Get it built please! We’ve still got the park to enjoy, and less as a thoroughfare.
    Maybe some security issues with the tunnel at night time but I’m sure that can be managed.

    1. I’d imagine that one straight tunnel would be a lot easier to manage security wise than what is the current Albert Park paths at night. I for one would much rather take the tunnel than through Albert Park late at night, especially as it’d have CCTV and security throughout

  5. Corporate sponsorship? The Vodafone tunnel? Vector tunnel? 5 million for five year naming rights. Plus ongoing leases for shops and advertising. Should be doable.

    1. Only if they pay for the whole thing. I hate this partial funding for full advertising rubbish. Advertising is something we all pay for through stupid purchase decisions, landfill, energy and resource use consequences.

      An advertising-free space with glow worms would be wonderful.

  6. This will be brilliant. Can’t wait for it to be built. Not sure on its use as transport infrastructure if there is a charge to use it. Also not sure that it will be of much benefit to university students as who wants to queue for lifts. Its major benefit will be as a tourist attraction in the heart of the city.

    1. It’s true that pricing and convenience of revenue collection will be critical. No queuing for the lifts though. There will be two separate lift shafts, each with two lifts running point to point. Those lifts will cycle up and back again in 60 seconds. We’ve had a system plan developed by the good folks at Kone. So one goes every 30 seconds each way. With a capacity for 30 people per lift thats 3,600 people per hour each way, per shaft.

      Fast, almost now wait and huge capacity. No queues!

  7. Yes wonderful idea. I’m sure the government could chip in a couple of million as part of the national cycleways (although if it is to be user-pays then perhaps not eligible for that funding?).
    Going forward could link in with a future CRL2 University Station.

  8. The aerial photo with overlays of cycle paths, trains etc shows how well this would connect with a properly positioned Parnell station. Another example of short sighted thinking in Auckland’s public transport planning.

  9. Start a givealittle now… you could probably raise the bulk of the cost without tolling it (with the remainder from borrowing against future commercial rents). If NZ can buy a beach in the middle of nowhere, we can do the tunnel.

        1. We simply can’t fund everything in society via give a little, nor should aim to. On the one hand it suggests a truly Dickensian abrogation of civilisised collective governance, and on the other an appalling failure to manage costs and benefits efficiently.

          The best societies (eg Scandinavia) run on a high level of collective responsibility and funding for the common good, and a cool eyed rigour around value and cost.

          In other words; please tax me and spend wisely on the commons and the group (city, nation, globe), and I’ll, we’ll, all be richer. Rather than beg for charity because we’ve neglected our collective responsibilities and kid ourselves about our reliance on their benefits.

          After all; properly understood all private wealth rest on public goods, not least of which is environment (the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment) locally and at a planetary level…

          1. Quite agree, I didn’t mean to support the give-a-little idea, sorry. I think AT and Council should just pay for this. Transport and Heritage/Placemaking combined. I don’t like user-pays for active modes. 🙂

          2. I agree funding it out of tax is the best option. My intended point was that if it must be funded by users then funding it by give-a-little rather than tolling allows for (1) it to be built without tolling infrastructure and operating costs i.e. for less and (2) gets the money upfront and perhaps built faster.

        2. Why should walkers pay, but drivers go through Waterview for free??
          Just fund it. Should be able to make a good case for the next tranche of the Urban Cycling Fund if it’s going to be a shared path.

    1. Yes stacks of them, I recently went through the tunnel under the Elbe river in Hamburg, also one in London, maybe two there actually?

      Believe it or not we have one of these in Whanganui already, tunnel into a hill with an elevator up to the top.

      1. Yes this is a great example, with a hundred years proof of effectiveness. The horizontal length of the Durie Hill tunnel is the same as going from Victoria Street to the Princes Street lift, or from the Parnell portal to the Symonds Street lift. So really our proposal is like two of these, with an extra tunnel link between them.

        In terms of the size, the Whanganui tunnel is 3m high according to wikipedia, but looks to be only 2m or so wide in relation. So the Albert Park tunnel would be a little taller and over twice as wide as the one in the video above.

        I note from their annual plan the Durie Hill tunnel-lift has a 100% safety record and 99% customer satisfaction level. Was trying to find their user statistics and revenue, but they don;t seem to publish that separately.

  10. Better still – move the Parnell station to the Beach Road Bridge and have a pedestrian/cycling bridge right from the tunnel exit directly to Parnell station. That way you now have a single *grade separated!* pedestrian link between Aotea and Parnell without pedestrians or cyclists having to cross a single road.

  11. Long tunnels can work very well in urban areas – I used to use the Greenwich tunnel under the river Thames regularly. Cameras at all entrances to improve security would be a must, and possibly closing the tunnels overnight.

    1. I was wondering who would mention the Greenwich foot tunnel – last time I used it was about 30 years ago – I don’t remember feeling either unsafe nor being under surveillance.

      1. I felt unsafe using it. But then I had recently had dinner with a lady who was letting the contract to add more ballast over it to prevent it floating up, breaking and then sinking again.

  12. According to Wikipedia, the arched main tunnel is 2.7 m high and 4.6m wide. The “optimistic” artisitc renditions of overseas tunnels are all much, much bigger than that. Secondly, the tunnels have been completely refilled with 8.8 million unfired clay bricks (which will have long ago fused into a solid clay core).

    It sounds a wonderful idea, but let’s be honest – the proposal seemingly being put about that it is just a matter of unsealing the entrances, a bit of a tidy up with a big broom and voila! Bob’s your uncle! Is nonsense. The proposition, in reality, is for a brand new and considerably larger tunnel following the same course as the original – and I’d wager a pretty sum that the cost of that makes it completely unaffordable in 2017. All of which is an interesting commentary on our times. The original tunnel complex was completed in less than seven months at a cost of around £120,000. It is amazing how quickly the Imperial Japanese Navy’s aircraft carriers concentrated the minds of the time…

    1. No sanctuary, that’s not the proposal. You can read the presentation for more details. Did you miss the costing of $19m for reinstatement? That buys a lot more than a broom.

      The McConnell Dowell construction programme includes clearing out the clay, clearing out the degraded timbers and other spoil, lowering the floor half a metre, and lining them with steel reinforced concrete, replacing the drainage, adding lighting and ventilation, and constructing two sets of elevator shafts.

      The resulting main tunnel will be 4.4m wide and 3.4m tall. Thats larger in both dimensions that either of the university underpasses of Symonds St, for example.

      1. Aaand anyhow $19m, or even $59m, is a drop in the bucket compared to any road project. A fraction of the cost of a simple motorway offramp.

    2. In England several 200 year old plus canal tunnels have been repaired and reopened for navigation after being abandoned for a similar length of time as the Albert Park tunnel. The 5 kilometre Standedge tunnel built at the end of the 18th was abandoned during the war and reopened for boats early this century. All for about 200 boat passages a year.

  13. The photos show the tunnel roof supports to likely be made of timber. I would seem replacing these supports if they havent already collapsed from decay would be a major issue. Has the tunnel even been partly explored ?

    1. According to wikipedia, by the end of 1943 the timber supports were beginning to fail and in 2005, subsidence occurred within the park, due to the collapse of in-fill soil within the old ventilation shafts. The article links to supporting evidence for the later.

      I’m not an expert, but I’d have thought that replacing ~80 year old wooden supports would be an essential task. Regardless of what wood was used.

      I’d love the project to gain traction. A straight tunnel (at the least) would be a good addition to Akls transport infrastructure.

  14. Surely these are heritage structures and converting them to utilitarian transport use has a rather odd feel to it.

    We wouldn’t use the Parthenon as a parking lot, nor the Colosseum to store rubbish, we don’t use cemeteries as walkways.

    Open them, but open them as historical artifacts.

    1. Part of the proposal is to preserve some sections in current condition, and restore others to original condition to celebrate the history and heritage. But in general there aren’t any heritage structures there, they’ve been eroded away a long time ago. Making them safe and habitable is essential to any access by the public.

    2. There is no heritage to see while it remains buried. Unlike the Colosseum. Anyway, almost all period features have deteriorated, except the voids themselves, or at least the potential voids. I see little to violate here.

      Also; not the Colosseum!

    3. Whats the point of heritage if no one can see or access any part of it. Also many heritage buildings have been re-purposed over the years CPO prime example now Britomart.

    4. For the record. The Colosseum was used as a church and for accommodation during the medieval period. In addition large amounts of its iron reinforcing and stones were taking away to be used on other structures which led to its partial collapse. The Parthenon was used as a mosque and ammunition dump by the Ottomans. It was struck by Venetian artillery and causing the roof and some of the walls to collapse.

      1. Don’t forget lightpath used to be a motorway offramp, Shed 10 used to be just a shed, and the facade of the new Sky City Convention Centre used to be a building where they made bras and panties.

        Reopening this tunnel will teach people about some of Auckland’s hidden past that most people don’t even know exists. As well as being a much faster way to get across town!

  15. Wonderful addition to the city. Could be a great mix of function, art, heritage and history. A destination of itself.

    Get started ASAP

  16. Surely this is exactly the sort of thing that the city centre targeted rate is for? Then we can just charge rent on some retail/attractions within the system to cover operating costs.

  17. This is great! I want to work in this wine bar already. Or at least drink there. Wouldn’t it be cool to buy a removed brick for 20 bucks? Get them fired, Make cool stuff with them? I hope this all happens for future Aucklanders.

  18. I was a bit sceptical on the wine and cheese cave idea until I saw the images in the presentation. Fantastic.

    Looks like a great grid of tunnels under Albert Park? A great place for a museum-type set-up.

  19. Re your comment that “This just gives another reason as to why it’s important we preserve the Victoria St Linear Park and not accept Auckland Transport running bus routes along the road.”

    I see from the agenda of the same meeting a reference to AT’s considering the feedback on this issue:

    “Midtown Implementation Strategy

    24. Based on feedback from public consultation, Auckland Transport has developed a cross-over option for routing eastbound isthmus buses within the City Centre.

    25. A cross-council team is developing a comprehensive implementation strategy for midtown which enables delivery of key City Centre Master Plan transformation projects and the requirements for increased public transport within the city. This vision and implementation strategy will be workshopped with the Planning Committee and the board in August. Further public feedback on the combined plan, which will include detailed designs for the Midtown bus option and how to create vibrant public spaces together with the bus infrastructure, will be sought thereafter.”

      1. Lolz yes I think it means they have given up their dumb plan to run the buses along Victoria St – at least I hope so.

      2. Yep. “24. AT consultants have found a way of commissioning more work” and “25. We’re going to delay things a bit longer so we can come up with a robust argument to support our initial proposal.”

      3. 24. We at AT believe we may have found another way to get what we want.
        25. We want to involve you at Council in the process so we can claim you support our decision.

  20. This comes up every 10 years or so. It’s not been viable in the past.
    $21,212/m sounds like a reasonable costing for what would be a tunnel 4.4m wide and 3.4m tall.
    Rather the council spent money on this, than things like the Homelessness Policy Project.

      1. Thank you Patrick, I might add that Auckland (people, population, transport, tourist market) is a very different place to Auckland ten years ago, and a very very different to ten years before that.

      2. However, you make a fair point, which is that there is an opportunity cost to all Council or Government investments, in that the same dollar can’t be invested twice. This is why I support opportunities like this where the private sector is proposing to do something that otherwise would require public investment… that money can now be invested in another high value need.

  21. Wellington has a pedestrian & cycle tunnel that goes under the Airport. So there is some precedence for this in NZ. There has also been discussions over the years of reopening the pedestrian Mount Victoria tunnel that parallels the main road tunnel.

    This project looks cool, I had no idea there were tunnels under Albert park!

    1. When I was at Auckland Uni, a few years back, the Albert Park tunnels were quite well known about. We also heard a rumour that the O’Rorke Hall hostel was linked down to the Albert Park tunnels as well, and indeed, there was a tunnel entrance under one of the old buildings (that originally was a hospital). I think the theory was that the O’Rorke tunnel would connect up at the south portal, on Wellesley Street.

      Went in there a few times, but as the entrance was near the old morgue under the old hospital, and the walls had crystals of efflorescence growing an inch thick over the walls, it was as scary as heck. Plus, there was no light and we didn’t have a torch… we never got far.

      Ran screaming back to the surface and to the light. A vampires life is not for me.

        1. Yeah. We were the second-biggest fire risk in Auckland, allegedly, and were quite proud of that, until the number one risk burnt down.

          Sometimes you don’t want to be number one.

          So – whammy reckon re the tunnels? Myth or truth?

          1. Well my mother, who was a student at the School of Architecture in the 40s when the tunnels were built, told me, in a moment of aged induced disinhibition before her death, that the park was also dug in slit trenches, ‘or as we called them, dear, slut trenches’…

            Who knows what lies beneath….

      1. it’s used a lot by people who walk or bike from Rongotai to Miramar. Which is probably mainly school kids going to and from Rongotai College. But not by the rest of Wellingtonians, who drive to the airport, cos there’s bugger all speedy public transport to get there.

    2. Chris W – just spotted your comment about “reopening the pedestrian Mount Victoria tunnel that parallels the main road tunnel”. It’s only 8 feet in diameter – rather small and infeasible to be used as a useful route for walking/cycling.

  22. Sounds an exciting project but hope “busines case” is not based on a $5 entry fee and we end up with another skypath fiasco. Though NZ cheese and wine is a valuable business. Could there be Hobbiton type tunnel as part of it, or is that exclusive to Matamata?

    1. If going to Hobbiton, surely then it would have to go to Middle Earth… i.e. Wellington. But that I really like. A Hyperloop from Auckland to Wellington, at 1000kmph. Nice!

      But I won’t hold my breath.

  23. Speaking of holes underground, just near the western entry to this labyrinth, is the Victoria Street car park building. Apparently, when they were building this building, and were boring the holes for the foundation piles, they went through an old lava tube – a tunnel that lava had once flowed through, leaving a hollow centre. So, there are some natural caves under Albert Park as well.

    Slight problem occurred when they tried to pour concrete into the pile for the foundations… allegedly, quite a lot of concrete went down that hole before they could bung it up….

  24. Sounds like a no-brainer!

    Maybe some of the side tunnels could be developed into a Council (or PPP) Cycle station – with bike parking, lockers, and shower facilities?

      1. And some spaces for taking a break (without having to be part of a commercial wine or cheese venture)? A space where parents can let little ones experience the tunnel aspect without having to keep moving, and maybe have a sit down to breastfeed or have a snack?

        1. Good point, definitely will be a range of spaces from fully ‘private’ tourist attractions, through semi private cafe and retail, to completely public entrance/concourse/arrrival hall.

          Although there will be tension between space to take a break and have a look around, and space that lets people loiter and abuse/hog the space. But its the same with shopping malls, train stations and various other public but enclosed spaces, so should be solvable with the right design.

    1. It’s based on two things: the modeshare survey conducted on university students and staff, stop activity data, i.e. how many people get off at the stops located within the campus.

  25. I really – REALLY love this idea – it would be a wonderful addition to the city.

    But before this opens, we need a major push to sort out our homelessness problem. Would feel unethical having this huge covered space with security guards kicking out homeless people on a rainy day.

    1. Isn’t designed for that purpose and who would want to use it if they are having to walk around homeless people (or the smell they would make in there)?
      As you suggest we need to sort out our homeless problem – this doesn’t do that.

  26. I love this. Auckland is truly becoming a Most Liveable City. A True international Amazing and beautiful city. I find it hard to fins such a more diverse and unique and beautiful city wherever I have been. Close second would be Barcelona so far. We have so many unique features and this must be done. Mostly as a beautiful museum to these brave men/woman and for letting people go to the domain easier. It’s Tremendous. I have three suggestions:

    1.) Auckland University can pay for some of this and also put some student faculties under Albert park maybe a Data Centre for Auckland University it could probable be a viable commercial location for a datacenter . Toilets also.

    2.) Make it bigger, and make sure it goes all the way to the Domain in some way or other. :-D!
    3.) I am still working on a heavy rail plan for rail to the North Shore so allow for the tunnel to connect to a future Rail Cross tunnel under Albert Park also at some point. Make it big enough you could have it now.. LOL

    1. Yeah I’ve heard of people getting in there. One of the entrances hasn’t been very well sealed… Also I think Bill has access granted from the council to do his research for this project.

  27. Nick, my apologies for not having taken in the commercial aspect of the proposition at the start and making a few stupid comments as a result. Presumably the group behind this has explored the possibility of getting full public funding and not needing the commercial aspect? It just seems the level of public support for the idea would be huge and if we can have it kept public, there would be huge benefits. Thanks to the whole group for the huge work you have done.

  28. Great idea – let’s get on with it for once and try to complete an urban project in less than 7 years! Totally over the road cones…

    Now, how about an Albert St-level flattish walkway from Aotea Station across Queen St to High St straight to the tunnel entrance…?? Too hard?

  29. You would only need a travellator to take people up hill, they can easily walk down hill.
    David Hardgrave

  30. Peter the way for that is a bridge between Witcouls and opposite building all the internal paths are then connected. like Sydney

  31. Screw the travelators – as has been mentioned they’d just take up precious space that could be cycled on. But why not cycleshare? Cycleshare stations at each end could be a great gateway drug for cycling in general..

    Which begs the question why not cycleshare in Auckland, period? Oh yeah… helmet law. Horse before cart on that one then.

    In any case this is a wonderful concept. As a CBD dweller, even with en ebike, the grafton gully cycleway is still difficult to access. Because for some reason we keep locating cycleways apart from actual amenities.

    Can’t happen soon enough.

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