Wellington Scoop

Petition calls for a traffic-free Courtenay Place

c place new look

A petition calling for Courtenay Place to be converted into a traffic-free piazza attracted more than 400 signatures within a few hours of being launched this afternoon.

The organisers say:

Covid-19 has had an immeasurable impact on the hospitality businesses in Wellington being unable to operate for so long during the lockdown. Many of these, especially the smaller venues in the city centre, will also be very limited for future trade with the social distancing requirements. At this stage it seems inevitable that large numbers of staff will lose their jobs, and businesses will close down.

Several city centres around the world including Milan, Italy and Vilnius in Lithuania have blocked cars and created pedestrian-only zones to help with social distancing. These cities are allowing cafes, bars and restaurants to place tables outside in public spaces to enable them to operate within the social distancing requirements between patrons. …

We propose a move to close off Courtenay Place to traffic and allow businesses to use the street for socially distanced seating. Each cafe, restaurant or bar would provide their own seating, and monitor their patrons. This could be approached with a trial period beginning in the weekends, and if it proves successful then look at the possibility of extending it during the week, and creating more permanent structures. The street has been blocked off previously for large public events, with traffic and buses rerouted accordingly. There could also be further room for extra activity, for example food trucks, entertainers and stalls, if this was to become a permanent fixture.

We believe this is a great opportunity to revive what could be one of the best entertainment districts in New Zealand. It would create safe spaces that can be enjoyed by all ages during the day, with no traffic, more walking and cycling, and a much more diverse entertainment offering not solely focussed on late nights.

It is a novel time to trial such an opportunity, that could create very positive outcomes in terms of not only helping hospitality and other small businesses, but also help transform Courtenay Place into an area the city can be truly proud of.

You can sign the petition here.


  1. P Barlow, 16. May 2020, 8:31

    It would be great to get Courtenay Place as a pedestrian-only zone to help with social distancing, and long term install trees and park-like surroundings allowing restaurants and bars to spill out onto the pavement. Atmosphere is everything.

  2. Jerzy, 16. May 2020, 10:34

    while this may help some businesses which front on Courtenay Place, businesses in adjacent streets (Blair, Allen, Tory) which depend on driveby traffic will suffer. The parking’s overloaded there; also where are the buses going to go? Main bus routes serving Newtown, Miramar, Kilbirnie, Hataitai, Lyall Bay, the Airport – all go through Courtenay.

  3. Val Aldridge, 16. May 2020, 13:36

    All I can say is remember Manners Mall.

  4. Spongebob, 16. May 2020, 14:07

    Not against the idea, but heading into winter it’s going to be hard to keep your napkins and menus in place let alone food on your plate. Also how would many of these places replace stock as a lot of the service lanes or delivery doors are off Courtenay Place. I’d be open to having the whole golden mile car free, but only if there are alternatives – the traffic needs somewhere to go. If the alternative routes flow better, you’ll see an automatic reduction in traffic on the internal routes.

  5. Keith Flinders, 16. May 2020, 17:03

    How can we forget Manners Mall Val !

    OK, this is an interesting concept and getting cars out of this area will be the easy part in spite of an avalanche of protests that will ensue.

    Where in this concept plan is the replacement transport hub that is now at Courtenay Place ? Buses routed through Wakefield and Cable Streets will cause congestion, plus bus stops will not be where the majority of public transport users want them to be.

    This proposal is akin to the second Mount Victoria tunnel provision, seen to be so easy by some and the answer to extra capacity, but not one of its proponents has come up with how the traffic between it and the motorway will be catered for. The dots need to be joined first.

  6. Spongebob, 16. May 2020, 18:16

    @keith flinders, good points about the bus hubs. An alternative will need to be found. However I am a little perplexed by your last paragraph. Karo Drive was meant to be underground but that got poo poo-ed and has since ruined the flow and feel of the Aro/Cuba Street area. If this was done right, Cuba Street would have been unaffected.

  7. Keith Flinders, 17. May 2020, 10:37

    Spongebob: The issue is, and will be for years to come, traffic around the Basin Reserve area. An extra two lane tunnel parallel with the existing one will only give more room for west bound cars to sit waiting to exit.

    A greater uptake in public transport use with rapid transit to the eastern suburbs built MAY have encouraged less private car use, and reduced the need for yet more roads. But post COVID there will be some reluctance to use the unreliable bus services.

    Had, as originally proposed, Karo Drive been a cut and cover tunnel under Willis, Victoria, Cuba, and perhaps Taranaki, then a major section of the Te Aro traffic congestion would have been addressed. However the Basin Reserve would still have been a choke point. After 20 years of debating the inner city bypass, we ended up with Karo Drive, another short sighted solution from NZTA.

  8. Kara, 17. May 2020, 13:25

    One way to minimise costs would be to widen the footpaths on both sides and keep the buses (or whatever replaces these diesels) as the main traffic travelling through in 2 directions. That would save funds by not removing the bus shelters. I know a great many car drivers would start screaming at not being allowed to drive through but if WCC were to allow lower cost parking in the surrounding area then the distance walked would not be great. The only thing I would not appreciate is the planting of non-native trees in Courtenay Place.