Here’s our roundup for the week.

Making Driving Worse

The Spinoff’s Hayden Donnell has written a fantastic piece on why we need to make driving in Auckland worse. I’d highly recommend giving it a read if you haven’t already.

If we make driving impractical for the people who don’t really need to use a car, those who really do need one might finally have space to get around. The roads would likely be a little clearer. Once we make driving in Auckland worse, it might finally, after all these years, get a bit better.

Aotea Station Development

Panuku Development Auckland announced this week a development to be built above the Aotea Station entrance on Wellesley St as well as the former carpark site behind the Bledisloe Building.

New homes and space for business will be created at the heart of Auckland’s public transport network as a key city centre site is destined to become a new mixed-use development.

Panuku Development Auckland is partnering with international property developer Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) who, with experienced local development and project management company RCP, will deliver the urban regeneration of the site above City Rail Link’s Aotea Station at the corner of Mayoral Drive and Wellesley Street which is currently under construction.

The over-station development by MRCB, known provisionally as Aotea Central, will be designed to revitalise mid-town and support what will be Auckland’s busiest train station.


The new development will be a 21-storey building with a mixture of retail, commercial and residential space. Early concepts show a striking design with terraced planting being a key feature. As well as integrated access to Aotea Station, the development will connect to the surrounding area with laneways, offering places for people to meet and spend time.

The 4780m² site, formerly a car park used for Auckland Council fleet parking at the intersection of Mayoral Drive and Wellesley Street, is currently being used to support the City Rail Link construction.

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It’s great that a development will go ahead here, though it won’t start till after the CRL is completed in 2024. Though I can’t help but feel the $40 million paid for a 125 year lease is on the light side given this is such a prime location.

CPO update

Speaking of the CRL, this week they shared some images from inside the Chief Post Office refurbishment and it’s looking great.

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The building is due to reopen to the public next month and I’m looking forward to being able to exit out on to Te Komititanga

Southern Motorway Widening

Waka Kotahi NZTA announced this week they’ve awarded the first contract on their project to widen the Southern Motorway from Papakura to Drury in order to get people to the congestion a little bit faster..

The first of the government’s NZ Upgrade Programme projects in Auckland will go into construction within weeks with the award of a contract to widen the Southern Motorway from Papakura to Drury.

This is a significant milestone for the NZ Upgrade Programme (NZUP) which is investing $6.8 billion in road, public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure to get our cities moving, save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The programme provides a pipeline of jobs and work for the construction sector, with 700 people already working on projects.

Waka Kotahi is delivering 20 major NZUP projects for the Government, including four in Auckland, that support a shift to greater transport choice. Waka Kotahi is also delivering 19 regional state highway projects with funding of $88.25 million.

This section of work is the first stage of the SH1 Papakura to Drury South project which delivers a range of transport choices by providing a third lane in each direction, an adjacent path for walking and people on bikes, wide shoulders for future bus services and improved local road connections across the motorway.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has announced Fulton Hogan as its construction contractor.


The first stage of construction awarded to Fulton Hogan covers works within the existing motorway boundaries from the north side of Papakura interchange to the BP motorway service centre north of Otūwairoa (Slippery) Creek. It will extend capacity improvements north of Papakura delivered by the Southern Corridor Improvements project and includes the replacement of the Park Estate Road overbridge, and a new noise wall on the eastern side of SH1 between Papakura interchange and the overbridge.

Future stages will include interchange improvements at both Papakura and Drury and a new interchange at Drury South. Several motorway bridges will be replaced, being raised or widened to allow for extras lanes underneath, provide for the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, allow for oversize vehicles and to respond to flooding risks.

It’s hilarious that they keep pretending that this is a multi-modal project by saying that buses could use shoulder lanes. Buses on motorways is really a last resort and even then only work if there are stations. Given there is already a parallel rail line with huge capacity, especially in a future with 9-car trains and additional tracks, I find it hard to see any useful route that would use these motorway lanes. It’s PT washing plain and simple.

While they’re pushing on with the road widening, perhaps they could also give themselves a hurry up over the cycleway from the previous widening. The section from Manukau to Papakura was completed for cars back in 2019 but the parallel cycleway is still no open yet.

Innovating Streets

Auckland’s first trial of a low traffic neighbourhood has gotten underway in Onehunga as part of the Innovating Streets programme and it’s looking great. Peter has tweeted some amazing images and we hope to run a more detailed post about it shortly.

Meanwhile another innovating streets project, Ponsonby Rd, is out for another consultation.

After feedback from the public late last year and three community design workshops held over the past few months, nine ideas have been developed that AT would like your feedback on by March 21.

The changes will be temporary, installation will be quick, and adjustments can be made once the changes are in place.

There is more detail on each of these but the nine proposed changes are:

  • Barnes Dance crossings e.g. Queen Street/Victoria Street intersection
  • Safety improvements to mid-block crossings
  • Improve pedestrian crossings on side streets
  • Dedicated delivery & taxi pick-up and drop-off areas
  • Restrict right-turn crossings
  • De-clutter the footpath
  • Parklets
  • Expressing the Ponsonby character: storytelling, cultural expression & history
  • Shared lane

Some of these do sound positive but others not so much, for example the section on mid-block crossings talks about it being to “reduce jaywalking” and that last one is described as:

Encourage slower and more considerate driver behaviour on the outside lanes of the road through artwork and signage, where bikes, buses, and scooters can feel safer sharing the road with cars.

A bit of paint isn’t going to make it safe.

Karangahape Rd Cycleway

The Karangahape Rd upgrade isn’t even finished yet but it’s already clear the poor design at the eastern end is going to cause problems. For example, here’s the end of the eastbound cycleway

And on the other side.

Finally, here’s a great thread involving five ferries and beer

Have a good weekend

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    1. They didn’t commit to it. It’s 17,670 days since Norm Kirk said he would ‘ban the bikies’. You are not supposed to believe what politicians say when they are campaigning.

        1. “To pledge is effectively to commit”

          Really: It isn’t at all.
          If you’re this miffed about the pledge being forgotten; you may as well just not vote (I don’t vote myself). Because the alternative party also breaks pledges all the time and wouldn’t even consider this pledge of Labour’s.

        1. Well, given that the only thing close to any concrete plan they have for any light rail is Twyford’s elevated light metro (to be paid for by Canadian retirement funds); I’m expecting it will just be yet another study and that its conclusions will put this Michael Wood (or the rest of cabinet) off it entirely.

          Another report said that it will just get “seed funding”; which I always understood is money allocated until more funding can become available.

        2. Daniel, Auckland Transport completed their light rail plan and included it in the Regional Public Transport Plan. Michael Wood was involved in that plan as a local MP and is a supporter of realistic options. And it’s far more developed than the pension fund bid or NZTAs copy, which are little more than marketing pitches with completely unfundable and unconsentable designs.

          If the announcement isn’t based on taking ATs plan forward then Wood has failed at the post.

    2. They’re not going to do anything with light rail. Twyford lied, he’s a politician.
      If you believed this obvious lie; you’ve only got yourself to blame. Moaning won’t change anything.

      1. Ah yes, how dare people expect anything of people entrusted with billions of dollars of government budget. Expecting anything is moaning.

        Got any more helpful contributions like that? Maybe keep them to yourself next time.

    3. You can always vote for the Green Party and hope that when they are not calling everyone C’s, stop complaining about democracy working and have sneaked all their boyfriends through MIQ, that they can put together an election campaign that results in a position of power.
      James Shaw and Julie Anne Genter are very good politicians, but the rest are a joke.
      Have some faith in Labour, they are the only party that is doing a good job these days.

  1. For a location on top of the country’s busiest train station in the centre of its largest city, 21 stories is a low density joke. Stuff reports only 60 apartments, which would be around 1 train carriage worth of people living there.

    The height and broken-looking roofline are apparently to not shade Aotea Square. This is a nice to have that should not come before other important considerations like keeping the area activated as much of the day as possible. Consider what else is on that block:

    Civic Theatre, Aotea Centre and Town Hall – Unoccupied for almost all of every day.
    Aotea Square – Unoccupied except for the occasional poorly attended event or political rally.
    Sky World Indoor Entertainment Centre – The equivalent of one floor of occupied retail and hospitality outlets.
    CAB Development – This 17 storey high end apartment development will help but by itself won’t be able to keep the area busy with foot traffic.

    Most of the other buildings in the area are offices that only generate foot traffic 9am-5pm on weekdays. There are some good hospitality outlets but they struggle because there just aren’t enough people.

    At the other end of Queen St, Commercial Bay provides a critical mass of office workers during weekdays and shoppers on weekends. It does this while shading Te Komititanga in the afternoon/evening but that’s a fair trade off to make.

    1. A little overly critical considering they are already building apartments on the otherside (the CAB), there is still consent for huge amounts at St James AND Elliot Street Tower. Speaking of which, if they can’t build apartments in those spots what makes you think they can do a huge high rise here. Its size and form look great and its not overkill on the office and retail space due to changing circumstances of how people shop and work. I think its great.

      As for the Labour Governments first cab of the upgrade ramp being road based, well that just tells you everything around what this ‘Kind National’ government is about.

        1. ‘Tell us more of this mythical ‘Elliot Street Tower’ of which you speak.’

          Probably still be finished before Seascape or Ponsonby Central.

        2. Yet another speculative game from some Asian money launderers. Happening all across our city. Holding our city to ransom, effectively.

        3. Wasn’t that the spot where the Royal International use to be , then Chase Corp. bought and pulled down to build a new farmers store , which became another carpark ? .

        4. Yes that is the site. About 32 years ago I wrote a memo recommending approval of a ‘temporary’ carpark. That carpark will out live me. The whole site is proof of the ‘Greater Fool Theory’ in financial economics.

        5. It’s simply being speculated upon. The land owner just needs to sit there and watch the land value increase. A resource consent approval helps that, of course.
          The government should acquire it compulsorily under the Urban Development Act.

      1. The CAB looks like it’ll be good but one apartment development alone won’t reinvigorate the upper CBD. The St James apartment project has been on hold since 2016 (according to media reports). The Elliot St Tower looks fantastic but construction has yet to start (Covid-19 probably hasn’t helped).

        If this was Singapore or Hong Kong then massive mixed use office / residential towers would be planned for on top of every new train station as a matter of course.

    2. Honestly, I think shading Aotea Square a bit would probably make it more pleasant seeing as it doesn’t have many trees or shade at the moment and with the light coloured paving it’s awfully reflective. It’s not really a space to hang out in its own right.
      I much prefer how Te Komititanga gets shaded and cooled by Commercial Bay….
      60 apartments really isn’t much…

    3. The problem with Aotea Square is exactly your first point — there is almost nothing to see on the edge of the square. It is also quite isolated (partially by the car park this building is going to occupy). However you usually see a fair amount of people on the square.

      1. Agree. The one thing that would fix aotea square would be a two or three storey building built between the square proper and the grassy bit. Line that with restaurants, shops whatever facing onto the sunny side.

        The ‘square’ is open on two sides, dead on the third (except occasionally in the evenings when there is something on at the aotea Centre), and only has some activity on one shady edge.

    4. The Civic Quarter development which includes The CAB will also include another apartment building on Greys Ave side and a Hotel on the Mayoral Drive side (although that may change into something else now with Covid…)

    5. LogarithmicBear was this a poorly attended event ? . But then again when those apartments in the old Council Building things like won’t happen again . ;-

      1. Oh great, one Saturday each year the square gets used close to its capacity.

        Just about every weekend there’s something happening in Aotea Square but much of the time those events are so poorly attended that it’s a bit sad. Of course that’s an improvement on the tumbleweeds blowing through Monday to Friday.

        1. I don’t know if there is more demand. But a weekday afternoon / evening summer market would be nice. Catch people on their way home. Especially post crl.
          I agree the space is under utilised currently. Has a lot of potential though.

        2. One thing that will really help Aotea Square is Aotea Station. We should get a whole lot more people walking down the lanes on the northern side and across to all of the buildings on the other side of Queen Street, including AUT.

    6. I don’t see an issue with the limited number of apartments in the building, much better to have commercial offices. Offices can accomodate a far larger number of people relative to apartments, so are better suited to a site that has such prime sustainable transport connections to thousands of existing and future residential dwellings.

      Aotea Square (or rather the development around it) is a real mess. I used to enjoy spending time in the green (sunny) area at the southern end of the square, sadly over the last few years this area has been subject to attempts at “activation”. Loud music, giant tv screens etc seem to have only been effective at driving people away. I can’t recall any other city that has put semi permanent TV screens and constant loud music in it’s green spaces…

    7. Im more concerned about a $40 Million lease when my own nothing special house costs $1 Million. Someone’s done well and it’s not the rates/tax payer.

  2. A RNZ report yesterday was saying the opening date for the CRL will be delayed due to lack of overseas specialist staff coming and also the slowness of getting items through the port.
    This is very disappointing.

    1. Well… …what could be done about it? Those are two difficulties beyond the control of the people responsible.

    2. And what is wrong , they could just bring in 3 people 1] to train the operators to push the right buttons for the operation of the TBM ,2] Another to show how to fit the panels and 3] for the maitence of the TBM .
      And the same people can also be used on the Watercare TBM , as both machines are made by the same German company , so there shouldn’t be that much trouble . Or does the press think NZers can’t do/run a machine like that ? .

      1. David L – I’m not sure if you are joking or not, but the TBM machines are extremely complex machines to operate and positions driving them are fiercely guarded amongst the TBM community. Tunnelling effectively requires people who understand the ground and the machines intimately – this is not something that could be picked up by pressing a button or two. There are whole families of tunnellers that have been tunnelling for generations – a craft handed down from parents to their children – admittedly this has got simpler now that we have moved from hand-digging tunnels to using a TBM – but there are a whole fleet of associated things that go on with a TBM. It’s not just the running of the machine: there is the computer systems running the hydraulic jacks; the sharpening of the teeth on the cutting face; the replacement of parts when they break down; the supply of the concrete ring parts and their arrival at the tunnelling face; etc etc. You’ve got sharp basaltic lava to dig through, subterranean springs, clay, shingle, sand, mud, etc. So many issues. Needs highly experienced drivers and other workers….

        1. I worked on the Vector tunnel and the crews tthat started the inital works were the ones that came from overseas and by the time they holed through around 90% of the crew and operaters were NZers . And when it came to the final finishing and fit out it was all NZers . So They trained everyone then went bck to their home country or somewhere in the world to start again on another project .

          And the insitue section frrom Hobson St to St Peters College under the motorway it was all built by Locals .

  3. If someone parks in a bike lane, or a footpath, or those odd Queen St bollarded areas, is there a number to call that will get action on it? I hope there’s something other than just the main Council number.

    1. It’s the general AT Parking phone number: +6493553553
      You tell them you want to report illegal parking. They get someone out ‘within an hour’ which doesn’t do much for people stopping for five minutes, but is effective for those who are using it as de facto free parking.

  4. Ugh that light pole on the cycle way – Probably there because it looks like JFC have built out this corner completely different to what the council plans have, the end of this cycle way shouldn’t even be integrated into the footpath as per the plans on their website. A lot of this construction seems to be very subpar

    1. Imagine spending years at university studying engineering and urban design and having to one day sign off dogshit like that

    2. Agreed – looks like the construction drawings on both sides of the road haven’t been followed (yet?):
      1. the flow of the bike lane integrated up to the intersection and the path round the corner
      2. the other side of the road, the white lines (really…. just white lines???) to show where the bikes, pedestrians and buses are supposed to do the hokey cokey around each other.

      See slide 8:

      1. This is the final design. The first designs that reallocated road space got vetoed by the traffic men (they are indeed all men) wringing their hands over queues to and from the motorway.

  5. The closure of Britomart last Friday following the Raoul Island earthquake and the Tsunami Threat has me wondering if there is any mitigation possible should something similar happen post CRL opening.
    Are there any scissor crossings in the tunnels?
    Can CRL be bypassed at Mt Eden?

    1. There was an item in the NZ herald supplement Project Auckland which came out last week. At the Karangahape Station they came across a fault line 6 to 8 metres wide running across both planned platform shafts. They are reinforcing the roof to prevent the possibility of the fault crumbling. Its something engineers call heavy intervention.
      Every time I see a king tide on the Harbour I marvel how close it is the top of Captain Cook and what’s left of Marsden wharf. It was a very good thing the sea wall has being replaced. One day there will be a king tide and an easterly storm coinciding. Could Quay Street be flooded.

    2. +1, I’m interested to know what their mitigation plan is as the eastern line will also have to be closed from Meadowbank. I wonder if they will just through run them from the western line to the southern line?

      It’s a lot easier if you just have a fault somewhere in the CRL as you can run half the western line through to the eastern and half through to the southern.

      This is yet another reason that a new LRT is better than cramming more lines into the CRL: people will at least be able to transfer with relatively little walking at Mt Eden

    3. “Are there any scissor crossings in the tunnels?”
      No, other than the existing one at the head of the platforms at Britomart. You can view the track diagrams in the CRLL website.

      Can CRL be bypassed at Mt Eden?
      Yes. I understand the plan if the tunnel is closed is to run service to terminate at Britomart via Parnell like they do today.

      If they have to close Britomart too then it’s probably terminating at the strand and Newmarket.

  6. Eastern line trains go to the, strand Western and Southern lines terminate at Newmarket. At least that is what the did when they closed Britomart recently.

  7. Big story of the week? Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) council voted for a two-year trial of making buses free to see if it will increase usage.

    1. I’ve heard that they’re also looking at peak commuter rail from Rolleston. Unfortunately; it will have to terminate at some facility at the old Moorhouse Avenue site.

        1. How about wait until there’s a demand to be met first?
          Otherwise; it runs empty trains outside of peak times and loses money.
          And then the whole thing gets canned.

        2. Lets apply the same thinking to power networks. If we can’t reach a certain level of demand overnight then we can just shut the grid off. Roads are quiet at night, can we shut them too? A lot of the cul de sacs around me only have 1-2 vehicles from 9-5pm, can we shut them in the middle of the day?

          There is already a demand to be met. People want to get between Rolleston and Christchurch and want to get around Christchurch. We should be running a rail service for that. We already have the tracks and once we build stations and trains the marginal cost of running a bigger span of service is trivial.

        3. Is there enough space adjacent to the main north line to double track that between Rangiora and Addington?

        4. Hi Luke.
          The proposed service will be running between Rolleston and Moorhouse Ave. So it will run along the SIMT’s Main south line, which has retained it’s double tracking as fat as Islington, which is only a couple of Km’s short of Rolleston.

          But to answer your question; as far as I’m aware the SIMT’s main north line was double-tracked between the late 19th century until the late 1990’s. So obviously it could be double-tracked again (and I’d be extremely surprised if Kiwirail doesn’t still own the land for the corridor). However; it would have to sacrifice the cycleway that’s been built over some of the former up line between Riccarton & Papanui.

        5. The single-line section between Islington and Rolleston is 8.5Km. It is a significant impediment to timetabling and reliability even without a regular passenger service. Its re-instatement as double-track should be straightforward as KiwiRail still owns the land. A proper all-day passenger service is needed. The marginal cost above running just a peak-hour commuter service is not high. Most of the investment is needed for either option, but sits idle for most of the day in the latter case. This is what the Te Huia will have to confront. Not running a more-comprehensive service from the outset simply prolongs the ‘niche-market’ phase and delays the establishment of the real market.

  8. Can’t wait to get knocked off my bike again on Ponsonby Road, this time when some dickhead opens his door on me I’ll face plant into a nicely painted ‘Shared Lane’ instead.

  9. I just can’t figure out what’s up with the stairs between the planned building and
    Bledisloe House.

    You’re not supposed to have stairs on a laneway?

  10. And the 4 photos that Matt L posted I created this video with more views of the interior of the CPO . ;-


      1. Nah, classic Orsman / Granny Herald. Instead of mentioning how much is being blasted on Roads he compares it to cycleways and how much is going on them.

        ‘Despite an expected marginal increase in spending on new footpaths, AT still plans to only spend $9m on them from a capital budget of $3 billion over the next three years.

        By comparison, it is budgeting to spend $140m on new cycleways over the next three years.’

        Some things never change, looking forward to this dinosaurs final paycheck.

        1. So we are spending $360m less than we should be on cycling, and $491m less than we should be on footpaths. I wonder where all of that money is going?

        2. Sailor Boy , Have a look a look at the pay packets of the top brass and don’t tell me they deserve it . There are others out there how could do a better job for less .

        3. The pay packets of the top brass don’t come to $860m over 3 years. We are wasting money on roads. That’s the problem.

        4. I admire AT’s prudent approach when it comes to walking and cycle facilities. When they completed the $30 million car park in Takapuna I asked (for the second time) whether they would re-paint the 70 metres of pedestrian lane marking in the service lane at 40 Anzac St. This would enable a safe passage around the very busy car park at that location, as people moved from the Huron St car park to Hurstmere Road.

          Despite AT having over $200 million annually for road renewal they don’t appear to have $200 (ok $2000, it would need a consultant’s report) for pedestrian path renewal.

          I note that when the car park was being built they could afford and had road marshals employed at all hours of the day and night ensuring road safety.

        5. I agree that Orsman should retire, but you should have written “this dinosaur’s final” with an apostrophe as there is possession.

  11. CPO / Britomart Station – the inside is looking great!

    I walk past it most days and wondering if they’re looking to clean up the outside before opening. Looks like it could do with a good scrum or even just a wet and forget on the Te Komititanga side! Or has the water shortage affected that too?

    1. They paid $43million dollars for it. The building is heritage listed and full of asbestos. You need to spend $40m before you can do anything with it.

      1. Even taking the asbestos into account it was a steal. Removing asbestos is not rocket science.

        At prime CDB land values at $16,000/sqm you are looking at $80M for 5000sqm. And this is 5000sqm next to the main trainstation.

        1. Ok, so it sounds like they were in the right ballpark with the purchase, especially given that the council didn’t get any buyers interested for years.

        2. It’s not prime land. Prime land you can build on. This is encumbered by a heritage listed building in the middle of it that you cant demolish and are forced to rebuild with a huge list of conditions.

          And the aotea area is B grade for the city Centre, more like 7 to 8k per m2 (unencumbered).

  12. K Rd cycleway looks fine to me. Road space reclaimed as space for active modes. Low speed, separate from cars and buses, fewer dead people. What’s wrong with that?

    It looks like it’s built for people of all ages, for kids on bikes etc, not MAMIL road warriors to race on.

    Y’all just complain about everything.

    1. The middle is good, the problem is at the eastern end where they just gave up and pointed the cycle lane into a pole on one side and drew a line on the footpath on the other.

      1. The worst part is up K’rd by Mercury Lane , you get off the Bus and you have to look both ways or you will get skittled by some clown on an electric scooter .

  13. Most of the cycleway is great, I suppose the poster should have explicitly said that. I especially like the intersection design further into the street with the protective islands. The complaint is only about the very eastern end, which is fairly shit IMO.
    Hopefully that whole Symonds/k-road will get re-done when Symonds street gets redone. Getting rid of that motorway on ramp from there would be a big help, and thinning down the general traffic lanes on the over bridge to the west would mean the intersection would also have more room.

  14. Making driving worse is a terrible idea. How about making PT better. No one has to suffer. Some people hate driving including me and would gladly change to PT but in Auckland it’s simply the only one option for some people. Make PT good and people will use it instead of cars. It’s that simple. Really no need to make driving inconvenient for the sake of it

    1. And how do you make PT and active modes better?

      Reallocate lanes or parking to bus/cycle lanes.
      Give intersection priority.
      Close roads to general through traffic.

      And what does this do to driving?

      Makes it worse!

      1. Although in the wider context it doesn’t. The local congestion or circuitous routes put people off driving in that location, and the new amenities provided improve the cycling (or walking, or pt, whatever was provided.) Together, they have a small, positive effect on the driving network, because of modeshift.

        With enough of these reallocations, driving improves perceptibly. This is how Amsterdam and Copenhagen have become nice places to drive.

        And the reverse process – easing congestion at each pinch point for traffic flow – results in worsening congestion. As has happened here.

        Counterintuitive, but it’s quite inspiring. We can all win.

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