Welcome back to the Weekly roundup. The news has been light over the last few weeks but there are a few things that have caught out eye.

Firstly, how great is this effort from Alex


Building Boom continues

Building consents in Auckland continue to surge with the numbers for November now out. The region hit a new record with 16,293 consents issued in the 12 months to the end of November. What’s more, for the first time more townhouses were consented in that timeframe than single houses, with the latter making up just 40% of all consents.

I’ve also added a line for when the Unitary Plan became operative (November 2016). What you can see is initially there was fall in consents, presumably as developers took stock of the finalised plan, but since then have boomed.


Rail network repairs inch closer to completion

If like me you’ve been impacted by the rail network works over the Christmas/New Year period, and in the months before that, the good news is that things are getting closer to completion. From Monday, services on the Southern, Eastern and Onehunga lines will once again use Britomart, though the Southern and Onehunga lines will still have closures at night.

However, for us Western Line users the pain will continue with no services till early February.

Meanwhile, Kiwirail have completed their upgrade of 13 tunnels and the replaced of five bridges along with around 54km of track on the North Auckland Line between Swanson and Whangarei.

Freight services on the Auckland to Northland rail route are expected to start later this week after the line was re-opened following months of upgrade.

The line between Swanson and Whangārei opened yesterday after an early morning blessing and a test train carrying trial hi-cube export- sized containers successfully run along the length of the line.

KiwiRail chief operating officer for capital projects and asset development, Dave Gordon, said yesterday’s run was a great first step in the re-opening of the line to freight traffic, with major works replacing bridges, and increasing the size of the tunnels completed.

“While we still have a full year in front of us to further improve speed and axle weight on the line, which mainly involves further rail and sleeper replacement plus some intricate work to the roof of one of the tunnels, this section of the line is now open for business.”

With lowered tunnels and new bridges, he said the North Auckland line would be more reliable and have the capacity to take hi-cube containers.


Missing Tourist Options

An opinion piece on stuff took what’s missing from NZ for tourists.

Here in New Zealand, we’ve been a lot luckier than most, enjoying the freedom to travel domestically. We’ve been encouraged to get better acquainted with our own backyard – and many of us have realised what we have here at home quite easily rivals the destinations we once flocked to overseas.

Except, there are a few things we could do better. I’ve been having a good hard think about what it is we’re missing – what it is that tourism hotspots in Asia and Europe have that we don’t.

Here are the five things New Zealand still needs to be considered a perfect destination.

What’s notable is that three of the five are things that would be good for non-tourists too. The five are below but read the article to see why.

  • A decent rail network
  • More affordable domestic flights
  • Late night shopping
  • More winter events
  • Cities and towns with a heart

PT Post-COVID Recovery

This article focuses on the US where the fear is many PT systems may see significant cuts in funding as a result of COVID and that could have significant long term impacts, and that’s before taking account that PT usage is likely to be lower for a long time – it even includes some numbers from Auckland. One thing that stood out to me was the discussion about city centres

In similar cities, like Auckland, where the virus has been repressed for far longer, a comparable proportion of riders was still missing as of early December. Currie believes that this foreshadows a lengthy ridership recovery even after Covid has receded, partly because of residual fear and partly because work-from-home policies will change where a substantial proportion of CBD employees spend their working hours. (But he also argues that as cities begin to grow again, which he expects in places as varied as Melbourne, Singapore and London, ridership decline will recover through population growth.)

“It’s a double whammy for CBDs,” says Currie. “First, subways are particularly bad psychologically because they’re underground. Second, the increase in teleworking will last past Covid-19. Don’t get me wrong – it’s only going to be a small share of the workforce, but it will have a particular effect in downtowns.”

This is an existential challenge to the commuter rush hour service that many transit networks have prioritised.

Auckland Transport have been prioritising for the peak commuter rush for years as that tends to be where the strongest demand and opportunity was. Even pre-COVID we were concerned about this it meant improvements outside of peak times and outside of city centre trips were few and far between . But in a post COVID world it’s more important than ever that we focus on how we lift PT usage to other parts of the region.


Following on from yesterday’s post, this is a map of all scheduled trees in Auckland.

Sometimes it’s good to get a fresh perspective on our city. Nelson City Councillor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens was touring Auckland yesterday and shared some of his thoughts in this thread.

Have a good weekend.

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34 comments

  1. Many of our suburbs are run down and business is slow. The council has widened footpaths in some.
    But real change and revitalisation will come to them when more apartments are built in the area. People will walk the main street again.
    I note Onehunga, Panmure, Otahuhu, Manukau, Ellerslie, Glen Innes, Meadowbank, K’Rd have quite a few new apartments but not Otara, Manurewa, Greenlane or Papakura.

  2. Another container ship is being diverted to Marsden Point .
    “A second ship, Tianjin Bridge, will call in at Northport Friday morning to discharge the balance of her Auckland-bound cargo and port workers are expected to handle about 919 containers.

    The company handling the logistics of ground transportation is liaising with KiwiRail around the practicalities of taking containers down to Auckland but the bulk will be put on trucks, starting Tuesday next week.”
    I expect its to early after the reopening for rail to handle a significant quantity of containers they will need time to get up to speed also Kiwirail is busy will they have spare container wagons.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/safety-checks-restart-in-northland-on-container-trucks-going-to-auckland/FSJQYUT6IHIDE5DCCNTWLYENRY/

      1. The problem is Marsden Point has no rail link so all the containers have to be loaded on trucks. The choice then is to direct the trucks to the rail line to transfer to trains at some appropriate station, which seeing it’s 2021 after decades of neglect, almost certainly doesn’t exist. Or truck direct to Auckland.

        1. Yes they would have to trucked to Whangerai Station where they handle containers. Still could be done one truck could do 4 or 5 in the 14 hours a driver is permitted to be working. I doubt one driver would get 2 trips by road right through to Auckland.

        2. This goes to show the spur to Northport is needed at once not in 10yrs or so .
          But they could also load them at Oakleigh and Whangarei at the same time if they have container wagons availiable . I did hear KR have a large number of old wagons laid/stacked up in storage at Ardmore in a paddock .

          With Oakleigh use the trucks with the Hiabs to load them straight on the wagons .

      1. I agree, however it will need a heavy duty pavement to be installed to allow container toplifters, which have a very heavy axle load when carrying a container, to operate. However this is probably a reasonable investment if it allows truck to train container transfers to occur efficiently until the Marsden Point line is built, without trucks having to travel right into Whangarei railway station

        1. Or they could set up a mobile crane there next to the tracks and have the train moving forward for each container . And if my memory serves me correct there use to be a siding there so the ground should be reasonably be compacted even for a toplifter .

  3. Wow those Rohan tweets really do make you realise just how many cool things have been built in Auckland in the last decade. As much as we (especially me) like to complain about AT, council, developers, etc, they have also done some really cool stuff. No where near enough yet but the momentum is building…

  4. The Waikato Regional Council has launched the Pokeno to Pukekohe 44 bus service this week and it seems surprisingly good. Fares are only $1 using a Beecard or $2 cash, it runs 7 days a week and runs from 0615 to 1915 Mon-Fri. I think the Waikato Regional council has been doing a lot of good work on the PT front recently which is in contrast to most provincial local government.

    https://www.busit.co.nz/regional-services/pokeno-to-pukekohe/#mf

    1. Any way to get AT to indicate the existence of these services on the network map?

      It’s not part of the supercity area but in the same way Aucklanders might travel to Warkworth via bus for a day trip, would be helpful for customer experience if people at least knew the services existed.

      Though obviously need to be styled differently so people don’t try going all the way to Pokeno with HOP cards.

      1. AT weren’t interested and didn’t see it their role to provide BEE cards at their service centres so I doubt they would show any interest. More’s the pity, because this coordination is exactly what we need.

        1. What HCC ,WDC and WRC should do is find out if there is Vending machine at Papakura and sell them through that like AT does with there over priced face masks , or if thet can’t do that , then park a Van in the carpark and sell them from there , just to give AT a hint .

        2. Very disappointing to hear, especially when AT is already providing their own services to Tūākau (that run at absolutely pathetic peak-only frequencies). This new BUSIT service is helping fill in the gaps with all-day frequency for anyone who only needs to use that leg of the route, so not having it on the network map for people to wayfind with is just a bit stupid.

        3. Looked at the Busit site the bee cards can be brought and topped up at the Gas petrol stations in Pokeno and Tuakau nothing in Pukekohe.

  5. Work began today to increase the handrail height on the Waima St – Haslett St footbridge over SH16. While not the worst height for cyclists, some increased height will make it more comfortable to use.

  6. No Passenger Trains to Rotorua looks like a massive hole in the train network for Tourists. To think there was a couple of trains a day in the nineties and now it’s a golf cart line.

    1. Even if it was still open, passengers would be dumped in an industrial area on the edge of town. This was a major factor in the demise of the nineties passenger trains.

      1. That can be managed. Kotou isn’t great but it’s still only 2km from downtown and in the middle of the suburbs overall. Compare that to the airport which is four times as far and on the wrong side of the lake from where everyone is.

        1. And it wouldn’t take much to extend the tracks back to Pukuatua st, or even around the corner and along the bottom of Kuira Park to the middle of town.

          Not much money at least, not compared to the state highway works that have been done i. The area recently.

      2. There was no local bus service in Roturua in the nineties there is now. Another things mobile phone ownership was not universal like it is today. Things have changed in how we would use long distance travel now compared to 1990,s. The vagaries of long distance bus or coach were seriously detrimental to uptake in those days. Uber e scooters are other options. The site of Roturua railway station on the outskirts of town is not as problemistic now as it was in those days. Look at Masterton it’s on the outskirts. I was surprised to see a bus waiting to meet the train at Woodside Station on a recent return trip on the Masterton train.

    2. Luke, it is a huge gap, but you would have to hope that it is being contemplated because NZ appears to drastically reduce carbon emissions, or perhaps be starring down the barrel of a huge carbon credits bill, amongst other things.

      From Stuff yesterday:
      Using the “planetary boundaries” framework – which was devised by scientists in 2009, and estimates limits for preserving the Earth’s life-sustaining capacity – it concluded New Zealand was contributing more than its fair share on four of five environmental issues examined.

      Notably, it breached the boundaries for climate change “to a large degree”.

      “New Zealand exceeds all identified climate per capita allocations assessed for this report, from lower to upper estimates of certainty in avoiding temperature overshoot, for both 1.5 deg C and 2 deg C goals,” the report concluded.”

    1. There have been sightings of the return trips of the frieght trains with 3 locos and 26 container wagons attached to them and if you are interested at the end of this with 1 of the 1st ;-

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