Wellington Scoop

Construction next year? Fast-tracking starts for shared pathway between Ngāūranga and Petone

harbourside walkway

The DomPost reckons that construction of the long-awaited harbourside pathway between Ngāūranga and Petone could start next year.

Joel McManus reported yesterday that it will be the first project considered for fast-tracked resource consent under new consenting rules designed to pump money into the economy following the coronavirus outbreak.

RNZ reports that fast-track consents for the walking and cycling link between Wellington and Lower Hutt are being lodged in the coming weeks. It also says the NZ Transport Agency is selecting a company to build the project.

Designs for the new pathway were released in May last year by associate transport minister Julie Anne Genter.

harbourside walkway 2

But yesterday the NZTA released new designs. The shared path, on the harbour side of the rail line, will have a 5metre wide sealed surface. A 1.8 metre chain link fence will separate the path from the railway line. The new section will begin at a rail overbridge at Ngāūranga . The plans will see six ūranga (landings) spread out along the path, which will have bike parking and rest areas, as well as bush areas. A raised rock embankment will act as a seawall, to protect the rail line from future sea level rise.

The new pathway will provide a continuous protected route for walking and cycling between Wellington and the Hutt Valley. The Wellington to Ngāūranga section is being upgraded, and the new Petone to Melling section is already being built.

The fast tracking of resource consents for the new harbour pathway was announced by the government in June. Environment Minister David Parker said the new fast track process would see resource consents processed in 70 working days, instead of four to six months.

The June announcement said Te Ara Tūpuna – the name that’s being given to the shared cycleway and walkway – would create between 30 and 40 jobs and would aim to increase the number of people cycling for commuting, recreation and tourism. It would also be an opportunity to strengthen sea walls and structures to make it more resilient to sea level rise and storm events.

Construction of the new pathway has been awaited for years. In 2010, the new mayors of Wellington and Lower Hutt led hundreds of cyclists in a mayoral ride to launch the idea. In 2012 the Wellington City Council announced that it would be completed by 2015, after Gerry Brownlee announced government transport priorities for the following three years. His “priorities” failed to eventuate.

A year earlier, there’d been a ten-year transport plan that included the cycleway as a “major project.” Here’s what Fran Wilde said in May 2011:

The lack of a decent cycling facility on this stretch of SH2, which is used by a large number of cyclists each day, sticks out like a sore thumb in our regional cycling network. It’s generally agreed that a need for such a facility is long overdue.”

The same things had been said back in 2008, when the word urgent was being used after a prominent cyclist was killed at the Petone roundabout.

Maybe the long overdue cycleway could be eventuating. At last?


  1. Kara, 8. October 2020, 19:26

    Given how long the work being done on the cycleway along Cobham Drive has taken (and looking like it’s still not finished) the cycleway between the Petone and Wellington might take a decade or more.

  2. greenwelly, 9. October 2020, 10:09

    There has been some interesting scope “creep” on this project. Firstly the “iconic” bridge at Ngauranga that was originally to “connect people to the coastal pathway” will now … “be strong enough and wide enough to accommodate a range of vehicles – up to and including fire trucks, as it will be built so that heavy vehicles can access the coast during the project’s construction.”

    I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty hard to make a bridge capable of carrying multi tonne construction vehicles “iconic”, and it will certainly rule out the possibility of a curving snaking slim steel bridge like the lightpath in Auckland, or the Leinster Ave shared path bridge over the Kapiti expressway.

    Also the cost has now moved to $130 million from $76 million with a $96m upper estimate.

  3. TJ, 9. October 2020, 11:55

    @greenwelly – the ‘lightpath’ in Auckland is a former motorway offramp i.e. a road – so I think, with the right designers, a bridge could easily be iconic while also having capacity to carry heavy vehicles in emergencies.

  4. D'Esterre, 9. October 2020, 14:24

    I’ll believe this when I see it. I’ve lost count of the number of times something has been proposed for that path.

    This area is so close to a major fault line. I wonder which will come first: the commencement of construction, or the next big earthquake?

  5. greenwelly, 9. October 2020, 14:45

    @TJ, I was thinking of the Canada street bridge section.

  6. Kara, 9. October 2020, 16:00

    If there is major movement on the Wellington fault line which runs along that route, the cycle way may end up in the water. Better hope that the West Wairarapa fault moves first.

  7. Dave B, 9. October 2020, 16:50

    I suppose the cost has risen because they were counting on using excavated material from construction of the Petone-Grenada motorway, which now isn’t going to happen in any sort of near-term timescale.

    I’m not sure why there is particular concern over earthquake-proneness of the cycleway. If the Wellington Fault ruptured, a much bigger worry would be the loss of the existing highway and railway which also run along there.

  8. luke, 10. October 2020, 2:38

    Hurry up and build it already. Although I’ve seen far too many false dawns, I’ll believe it when I see work actually begin.

  9. jamie, 10. October 2020, 7:37

    This will be the first test of decision makers having to consider climate change impacts on resource consent. If the risks from climate change are too high, then the consent will be declined. I struggle to see how this can be consented under the Wellington regional plan rules about works in the Coastal Marine Area, and impacts on scheduled significant sites. There is no other plan that can be used.
    I like the concept, i don’t think it is value for money but in the long term it could be OK if everything else was sorted. With e bikes, the cycling will be easier as you are right in the wind with no protection.
    I’m not allowed one cow in the CMA in case it causes damage , yet here you can concrete of 10km of marine ecosystem and it is fine. Go figure.

  10. Chris Horne, 10. October 2020, 16:20

    This pipe-dream project has been developed by roading engineers at the behest of cycling advocates and some politicians. The engineers hope that it will give them something to design and build now that the dreamed-of Petone-to-Grenada Motorway pipe-dream has vapourised. Parliament’s ratification of the COP21 Paris Accord plus passage of our Zero-Carbon Act must mean the permanent end of motorway construction. The proposed footpath/cycleway would require the dumping of vast volumes of soil and rocks on the edge of Te Whanganui a Tara, our beautiful harbour. This process is called “reclamation”, a singularly arrogant term! The proposed structure, directly above the Wellington Fault, could collapse in a big ‘quake. It’d battered by southerly storm surges, and imperilled by sea-level rise; and construction would add hugely to the region’s C02 emissions.

  11. Julienz, 10. October 2020, 17:53

    I wonder how far $130 million would go to fix the existing path and pay someone to drive a sweeper along it twice a day? We have such a penchant for wanting new things rather than looking after and making do with what we already have.

  12. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 10. October 2020, 20:40

    Julienz – the existing cycle “path” is far too narrow to drive a sweeper along. Even worse, it disappears completely through the 200m or so immediately south of the Petone overbridge, where its place has been taken by the three-lane southbound road alignment. There is insufficient room between the road and the railway lines to provide a comfortably wide cycling and pedestrian path, and it would be very expensive to move the railway lines. The new cycle and pedestrian path will act as a buffer zone, protecting the vital railway lines against breaking waves and storm-surge inundation in extreme weather conditions.

  13. GK, 11. October 2020, 10:17

    Many commenters don’t seem to understand that the project is mostly about providing a replacement seawall to protect rail & road. The space where the path goes is initially the construction access road.

  14. D'Esterre, 11. October 2020, 12:46

    Jamie: “I struggle to see how this can be consented under the Wellington regional plan rules about works in the Coastal Marine Area, and impacts on scheduled significant sites.” Yeah, we’ve been wondering about that as well. Judging by what’s proposed, the RMA won’t get a look-in either. Though maybe the entire project depends upon the RMA having been repealed.

  15. Julienz, 11. October 2020, 13:40

    Thank you Chris Calvi-Freeman and GK – I understand now, it’s a seawall with the added bonus of a cycle way.

  16. luke, 11. October 2020, 18:48

    That’s a good way to look at it. Don’t want a repeat of when the storms washed the track away.

  17. D'Esterre, 12. October 2020, 0:15

    Julienz: “…it’s a seawall…” Oh, so that’s what it is! Well: why didn’t NZTA just say so to begin with? Of course it’d need to construct a road for the purpose of building the seawall. Might as well put said road to some use after construction is completed. One stone, two birds.

  18. Ross, 12. October 2020, 10:42

    jamie. I found it ironic that when this project was first announced, two weeks later the Councils came out with a report on the effects of climate change to the region and future planning needs. I thought sea level rise was a big thing for climate change effects. Why spend $75-90 million, which is now $130million, on a project along the foreshore, in an earthquake prone area?? It defies logic if you believe the sea levels will rise.

    Totally agree with you D’Esterre — this is the first time I’ve read of the need for a replacement seawall. Obviously there has been some push back and a new excuse is needed to justify a “nice to have project.” I have yet to see how many cyclists will be catered for with this pathway.

  19. Russell Tregonning, 14. October 2020, 7:37

    I’m surprised at the negative tone of many of these comments. This proposal for a safe,wide active transport & recreation link between two major centres of population has been wanted by many for about 120 years. The Great Harbour Way, of which this is a vital part was conceived almost 20 years ago by Mary Varnham and promoted by a volunteer Trust since then. It is so welcome to see NZTA and the Councils at last coming up with such a well-thought through plan. It will have major climate and health benefits helping to reduce our reliance on the private car and providing opportunities for pleasant walking and cycling around our beautiful harbour .

  20. Celia WB, 15. October 2020, 8:06

    The resilience aspect of protecting rail and road from the increased threat of storm surge and sea level rise is probably what convinced some to priotise this project.

    Much of this coastline is modifies but NZTA has done a good job of working with iwi and Forest & Bird to minimise effects on coastal systems.

    Most of all it will be glorious to walk, run, wheelchair or bike along one of the world’s most beautiful harbours instead of being at the edge of the truck and car space.

    Long awaited!

  21. Rosamund Averton, 15. October 2020, 10:17

    Another “seawall” roadway is not needed. Cyclists use SH2 already. In the last couple of years the pathway has been regularly “swept”. Sadly some of the vegetation that has for many years provided shelter and shade during an hour long walk, has been removed. The wire barrier has been erected in fits and starts for some years and needs bollards at its northern end to provide a safe barrier from traffic entering from Petone. The cost overruns from trying to create seawall tracks either at Cobham Drive or at Point Jerningham are indicative.


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