Scoop images: a tourist walkway which offers a dismal experience for visitors


A cruise ship carrying 2600 passengers arrives in Wellington on Sunday, and the tourists will be offered the choice of walking from the Aotea Quay wharf to the central business district. Positively Wellington Tourism says the walk will “further enhance” the experience of the 100,000 cruise ship visitors who are expected during the summer. But the walkway is awful. No visitor could be impressed by the experience.

The tourist walk starts alongside piles of logs, with a small map indicating the layout of the invisible city.


First impressions are important. These two messages offer a memorable first impression for tourists from visiting cruise ships.


The logs at least have a fresh smell, in contrast to the traffic fumes from five lanes of traffic alongside the walkway. But as for Wellington’s famous views – this miniscule glimpse between the logs is all the walkers will see.


The path to the central business district is marked by a dim blue line. If you followed the dim blue line on Friday, you would have had to splash through a very large puddle. And what would visitors make of the crisscrossed yellow lines, and the railway track?


Just like the bad old days of the Wellington Harbour Board, the port is fenced off from pedestrians. Not that there’s anything to see, except industrial buildings.


The blue line lets tourists sample some of Wellington’s thoughtless parking habits. The cars are on a yellow line as well as on the footpath. Little space for even the slimmest of visitors.


Apparently the tourist walkway has been upgraded this year. Perhaps this is part of the upgrading. Take a seat, with your back to the harbour, and admire the passing traffic.


Signage in the draughty shelter describes Wellington’s “steep green hills and stunning harbour.” But on this walk you don’t experience either of them.


Across a sealed carpark (the first of many) there’s a distant glimpse of the headquarters where New Zealand’s world cup strategies are being planned.


And as the walk goes on, something to write home about – a railway crossing on a main road. What kind of city is this?


This billboard could be connected with the sign about drinking problems, which began the walk. But you can’t get too close – there’s another security fence, and a warning that it’s on private property.


Here’s a second shelter, offering two choices: you can sit and look at five lanes of traffic, or you can turn and look at a blank wall. As for harbour views, forget them. They’re no part of this tourist walk.


And here’s a warning for visitors to Wellington: someone’s campervan, behind a locked gate.


The walk goes on and on and the blue line is joined by two yellow lines, to warn that you’re now walking on a road. Though it’s only 15 or 20 minutes from the ship to the railway station, the industrial drabness and the traffic fumes make the walk seem longer.


By now, our pedestrian visitors will be thinking: the distant harbour may well be beautiful, but why are there so many carparks? And why aren’t we walking on the edge of the harbour?


At last, signs of architecture and urban design. What is this harbourside building? It’s a bank. A chance to get some cash …


…Well, not actually. On Friday the bank’s new cash machine was out of order.


By now, the blue line has vanished. The message on the only sign says exit. Nothing tells visitors that if they walk around the building they will see the harbour.


So keep following the walkway. You’ll soon arrive at another harbour’s edge carpark. How peculiar to offer this experience to tourists – such a beautiful harbour which is lined with cars.


Finally a welcome sign. Yeah right. Welcome to another carpark.

The walkway to the city is a shameful and dismal route for visitors. Positively Wellington Tourism (which wants tourists “to have the best experience”) should remove it from the list of things to do.

Of course, all problems could be solved if cruise ships berthed at Queens Wharf, where the city’s beauty can be readily seen and reached. But of 47 cruise ships expected this season, only two of them – small ones – will be berthing at Queens Wharf. All the others will be down in the industrial ghetto, with the industrial slum experience available to every visitor who wants to go walking.



  1. Mary Munro, 17. October 2009, 12:53

    I’ve just come back from overseas and, for part of the time away, I was on a cruise ship. Nowhere did I experience such a dismal and ugly entry to a city. I feel ashamed of this entry to our capital city. To whom do I complain?

  2. Whilst I am sure we would all like to see cruise ships stop at Queens Wharf the reality is that for these huge ships this is not an option; the water is not deep enough, the wharf is neither long nor strong enough and there is insufficient turning space.
    Positively Wellington Tourism, Wellington City Council and CentrePort are more than aware of the challenges of getting visitors into the CBD. This is why CentrePort have invested in a cruise arrivals hall which is the best facility for this purpose (according to the cruise lines) in New Zealand (If you’re driving along the waterfront between the port and the stadium do not judge this book by its back cover!)
    Similarly this is why PWT and WCC have committed to providing a shuttle service for all cruise passengers that don’t have such a service provided by their cruise operator, and working alongside local tour operators have ensured that a wide selection of different experiences are available for visitors upon their arrival in our city.
    However recognising that there are visitors who wish to ‘stretch their legs’ when they get off their ship the walkway is provided and has been substantially improved.
    The quality of the cruise facility provided by CentrePort together with the excellent feedback received from cruise visitors about Wellington and the experience it provides have resulted in substantial growth in cruise ship visitation to our city in recent years and whilst all may not be perfect we should be proud of what we achieve whilst always of course searching for ways to make that enjoyed experience even better.

  3. Traveller, 18. October 2009, 8:21

    If tourists could walk into town along the edge of the harbour, instead of between security fences (with warning signs) and five lanes of traffic, that would give a better and truer introduction to Wellington. If the container port remains an immovable obstacle, surely at least the southern part of the walkway could be moved on to the water’s edge.

  4. Anne Weinbrenner, 18. October 2009, 12:56

    Another reminder of the difficulty of seeing the harbour from the ground from most places in the CBD – with the exception of being on an upper floor of a tall building or on Oriental Parade. It is truly embarrassing. Wellingtonians get more pleasure out of seeing a cruise ship than vice versa.

  5. Neville Wellbourn, 18. October 2009, 18:15

    The most humane thing that we can give the cruise visitors, is to shield them from this gross visual ghetto masquerading as an apology for a walkway. It is an insult on a good day (even to the locals). Just shuttle them directly into key points in the CBD and they will have ample opportunity to “stretch their legs”. Mr Perks may care to elaborate on which part of the “walkway” has been “improved” and when.

  6. Shayne Riches, 21. October 2009, 16:25

    At least a third or more of the walk could be improved immeasurably if the route went via the stadium concourse on the other side of the road. From there you have elevated views of Wellington, it’s nice and quiet, and it leads you directly to the railway station, which is a magnificent entry point.

  7. Peter Brooks, 23. October 2009, 18:48

    The walkway could be greatly improved at relatively little cost. The whole scene could be made to look better not only for tourists but for we who live in the Wellington area and regularly use the Quay. It is after all the main entrance to the city. I had understood that in due course this was to be another city boulevard. It seems that suggestion did not get through the ten year plan process, although Taranaki Street and Adelaide Road are to receive such treatment.

    But I am pleased that large cruise ships cannot use the inner harbour. While no doubt it would be good for business in the CBD it would be like having a Hilton Hotel tied up at the Outer-T for much of the summer. Large cruise ships would demand to be served by scores of taxis and coaches and the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles on the stem of the outer-T would provide just the situation we hoped we had avoided with the defeat of the Hilton project.

  8. Sonja Cabrera, 26. October 2009, 12:49

    To respond to David Perk’s comment: “However recognising that there are visitors who wish to ’stretch their legs’ when they get off their ship the walkway is provided and has been substantially improved.”

    Firstly, does David understand that people who are on cruises actually have the opportunity to “stretch their legs” quite often – in contrast to flying in Economy class 24 hours to get here. This is a poor excuse for what is a disgusting and dismal first impression of Wellington.

    In your last paragraph you mention…”whilst always of course searching for ways to make that enjoyed experience even better.” Well…you haven’t – take down the embarrassing drinking and pregnancy problem banners and actually do something to make it a pleasant walk.

    Quite frankly, you seem to come from the same school that thought that having John Key citing quips on the David Letterman show was a PR boost for the country… Well, it wasn’t – all it did was make a fool of our Prime Minister – I mean…he didn’t ever get the chance to sit down and positively promote our country.


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