Auckland’s Downtown Programme has been completed and celebrated, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in attendance on Friday 2 July to mark the occasion.
The six projects delivered by the Downtown Programme reflect an investment of $350 million by Auckland Transport and Auckland Council, $42 million of which was provided by the government.
The programme has created a generous and welcoming destination along the water’s edge that is recognisably Tāmaki Makaurau. The space is designed to strengthen people’s connection with the Waitematā Harbour – a vibrant, transformed environment for all to enjoy.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “This $350 million upgrade of Auckland’s downtown has created a world-class waterfront that is vibrant, people-friendly, attractive and accessible.
“It’s a meeting place where the land connects to the sea, and where people can gather and look out over our beautiful Waitematā Harbour in the heart of the city.”
He says it’s a place to enjoy the ambience created by our heritage buildings, landscaped parks and public spaces, and experience shopping and dining in the new Commercial Bay precinct.
“The creation of the new waterfront Te Wānanga space and Te Komititanga square, the restored Chief Post Office, Amey Daldy Park, and the fantastic Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Basin, together with the Britomart area, makes our waterfront and downtown area absolutely world-class. It will be enjoyed by Aucklanders and visitors from around the country alike, and when our borders reopen, will welcome tourists from around the world.
“Our new ferry piers that form Te Ngau o Horotiu will have improved accessibility and greater operational flexibility, providing a better customer experience for the 4 million people who use it each year. Bus and rail connections also make it the most accessible area in the city by public transport.
“This new downtown space will be enjoyed by for generations to come. It’s fantastic to open it for Aucklanders today.”
Auckland Transport Board Chair, Adrienne Young-Cooper, says that the area is now a world class meeting places for Aucklanders and visitors and a central hub for connections to other parts of the region.
“With new infrastructure for ferries, buses and trains all within a short distance, public transport connections are easier than ever. Currently, there are close to 9,000 people a day using our ferries services. This is the fastest recovering mode of public transport since the lockdown, with close patronage being close to 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
“This ‘beating heart’ of our public transport system sees 20,000 people a day use bus services in the Lower Albert Street bus interchange, and 30,000 people travelling into the recently redeveloped Britomart Station. It would not be uncommon for many travelling on our services to be transferring between these modes.
“When you combine this with the Quay Street cycleway and widened footpaths now positioned together, this area of the city is well prepared for growth and an asset for the thousands of people who live, work and travel to and from the city every day.”
Eric Van Essen, Programme Director for the Downtown Programme, says the transformation of Auckland’s waterfront involved a design partnership with Mana Whenua that interprets local identity, culture and history.
“This is what downtown now represents, a place with stories, a sense of history, and a unique identity. A place that showcases Auckland that we can all be proud of”.
The programme began by strengthening the sea wall that Quay Street sits on, protecting the city for the next 100 years from rising sea levels and seismic events. At the same time, it has revitalised Quay Street and Galway Street to be more people-orientated. There are now wider footpaths and a protected cycleway on Quay Street, along with a growing urban forest (ngahere) and native planting offering shade, shelter and carbon absorption.
The ngahere of Quay Street connects with Te Wānanga, the new downtown public space. Seeming to float above the harbour, this new public space has been designed to resemble a tidal shelf, forming a living hinge between the land and sea and shaped to emulate the rocky edges and sandstone headlands of the Waitematā.
A new bus interchange now operates in Lower Albert Street serving some of Auckland’s busiest bus routes and providing easy connections to the recently reopened Chief Post Office building at Britomart Station. Six new ferry piers form Te Ngau o Horotiu, built on the east side of Queens Wharf. These new piers are designed for patronage growth and the future introduction of electric ferries.
Mike Horne, Fullers360 Chief Executive says, “We were thrilled to be involved in marking this significant milestone today - which represents a considerable and critical investment to Auckland’s ferry network. The six new piers at Te Ngau o Horotiu means we can now operate our ferry services from bigger, better, and purpose-built infrastructure, allowing Fullers360, and other operators to deliver an improved customer experience for all. This importantly sets us in good stead for our future transition to electric and hybrid vessels.”
To celebrate the opening of Downtown, the Karangahape Road Enhancement project completion last month and Matariki, Auckland Transport is holding one of its fare-free days. On Saturday, 3 July all buses, trains and some ferry services will be free from the first service of the day, until the very last.
Customers will need to use an AT HOP card to tag on and off – they will not be charged.
At Alert Level 1, all customers onboard public transport are required to wear a face covering. Customers are reminded to also use the NZ COVID Tracer app, to track their journey.
Ferry Service Changes
With the six new piers now completed as part of the Downtown Programme, Auckland Transport is making changes to some ferry services.
From Monday, 5 July a new numbering system will be introduced at the Downtown Ferry Terminal. Ferry services will operate from the new piers, along with some timetable changes.