Wellington Scoop

LGWM will transform Golden Mile – no private cars, 75% more space for people

lambton quay transformed
Lambton Quay transformed. Artist impression (subject to detailed design) from LGWM.

News from LGWM
An option to transform Wellington’s Golden Mile has received strong public backing, with the majority of people telling Let’s Get Wellington Moving that they support plans to re-energise the Golden Mile, provide a positive boost for business and move more people with fewer vehicles.

During public engagement sessions in 2020, nearly 2,000 people provided feedback, with the majority indicating that they wanted to see the Golden Mile Transformed.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving has listened and considered that public feedback alongside technical assessments. It agrees that the Transform option, with some modifications, is the technically and publicly preferred option to advance to the final stage of its business case.

Transform significantly changes the road layout to create more space for people (75% more), bus lanes and removes private motor vehicles.

Wellington City Council Mayor Andy Foster says the Transform option reflects the kind of city people have told us they want.

“We’ve now got Let’s Get Wellington Moving really beginning to move. People are asking us for our central city to be safer and more attractive for people, and supports our aspiration for more of us to get around safely and efficiently on foot, bike or public transport. While ensuring business and freight access is well provided for.

courtenay place transformed
Artist impression (subject to detailed design) from LGWM

“In creating safer more attractive spaces we are seizing the opportunity in the Courtenay Place – Te Aro Park area to support our Poneke Promise program. I’m also very excited by the potential to expand Midland Park and support the future of Lambton Quay retail and business,” said Mayor Foster.

To complete its analysis, LGWM commissioned two reports to inform our technical assessments, a retail assessment, and an intercept survey. The intercept survey asked 2,000 people about their travel choices along the Golden Mile. Together the reports predict that the widened footpaths, with more space for people will increase access and lead more customers to the Golden Mile and that overall, the positive benefits to businesses are expected to be highest in Transform.

Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter says that modifications to Transform are being guided by what Wellingtonians have said they want.

“We are looking at access for commercial and delivery vehicles; loading bays and taxi stands on the Golden Mile and keeping Tory Street open to private vehicles and set back bus stops where possible.”

The programme’s vision is to create a great harbour city that is accessible to all, with attractive places, shared streets, and efficient local and regional journeys. To realise this vision, we need to move more people with fewer vehicles.

Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Emma Speight says the Golden Mile Project is part of this vision.

“The Golden Mile project will play a key part in moving us towards the kind of city people tell us they want. These changes will help to ensure that all public transport users will have more reliable and efficient journeys through and to our city centre. It closely aligns with the Government’s goals for the transport team including carbon reduction and encouraging mode shift.”

The next step for the Golden Mile project is finalise the business case and begin detailed design. This will include further opportunities for people to provide input as designs are developed.

The Golden Mile stretches from Lambton Quay, to Willis Street, to Manners Street and Courtenay Place. It is Wellington’s prime employment, shopping and entertainment destination. It’s the city’s busiest pedestrian area and is the main bus corridor; with most of the city’s bus routes passing along all or part of the Golden Mile every day.


  1. Georgina Campbell, 16. June 2021, 19:18

    Wellington Mayor Andy Foster has made a big call. He says Let’s Get Wellington Moving is now moving and people can expect an “avalanche” of projects in the coming months. [via twitter]

  2. Don M, 16. June 2021, 19:45

    Well, this should provide a welcome boost for retailers in Lower Hutt.

  3. Conor Hill, 16. June 2021, 19:50

    Does this mean Mass Transit is definitely going around the Quays? Be crazy to dig up the Golden Mile twice in quick succession? [via twitter]

  4. michael, 16. June 2021, 19:52

    I am all for a pedestrian mall but I can’t see how removing cars but keeping the huge number of buses is going to make much difference to space for pedestrians, and their safety. Surely the increased amount of space for pedestrians will only be the width of a car park each side as there will still need to be two road widths for the buses traveling in both directions?

  5. K, 16. June 2021, 20:27

    michael: I would prefer buses removed as well (to Featherston), but this will still mean a big reduction in road space (and much more pedestrian space) for much of Lambton Quay, Willis Street and Courtenay Place). Lambton and Courtenay are both currently 4+ lanes wide for nearly all of there lengths (with car parks included). Under this plan that reduces to two lanes.

  6. Erentz, 16. June 2021, 20:38

    How can they have a plan for the Golden Mile before having decided on the plan for mass transit (light rail) and the appropriate route for that? If light rail were to go ahead (as it clearly should) and use any part of the Golden Mile (as it should) then the design of the Golden Mile changes need to properly take that into account. Not only that but the works would best be done at the same time.

    This implies they have predetermined already that they are not doing light rail. Or that light rail would not use the Golden Mile. We should see the reports on that. Have they been done? If so, where are they? If not, why has LGWM predetermined the outcome before doing the work?Any councilors willing to explain this contradiction?

  7. Mike Mellor, 16. June 2021, 21:00

    Don M: most of the people accessing the Golden Mile other than by car (and hardly any of those who do are actually parking on the GM, and people arriving by car spending less per head than others), removing car domination of the space is very good news for both shoppers and retailers.

    michael: Courtenay Place and Lambton Quay are generally six lanes (including parking) wide, so with just one bus lane each way between stops plus the room currently taken up by turning traffic it’s not hard to see how space for people can increase by 75% – the pictures above give some idea.

  8. Pam, 16. June 2021, 21:17

    Courtenay Place was once a busy business, theatre, service and retail area. Progressive removal of parking and easy access to CP has seen more and more businesses move elsewhere. The decision to close Courtenay Place to cars will likely see more businesses leave the area and accelerate the decline and increase the safety concerns in the vicinity.

  9. greenwelly, 16. June 2021, 22:00

    Oh come on, how gullible do they think we are? All they have done is confirm that they agree with the results of the public consultation that was undertaken nearly a year ago. In October last year we were told “the vast majority supported the ‘transform’ option, the most radical of the three options to reform Wellington’s main shopping and entertainment area. The plan would cost up to $80 million and remove up to 200 car parks between Wellington Railway Station and Kent/Cambridge Terrace.” It’s taken over 6 months for LGWM to agree with this and now say they need to “finalise the business case and begin detailed design. This will include further opportunities for people to provide input as designs are developed.” So now we have to wait for a business case, more detailed designs and then more “opportunities for people to provide input.”

    Good grief … stop the consultation treadmill, and actually commit to something.

  10. Hel, 16. June 2021, 22:39

    Erentz, that would make sense. There is little evidence to suggest the LGWM programme has been thought through in any coordinated way, assuming there is a programme.

  11. JAB, 16. June 2021, 23:15

    Does this mention that this is going to cost ratepayers between $52 million and $79 million? Are costs given with the consultation because that may well alter people’s responses. There are usually not that many cars in the area anyway so banning them seems a bit pointless. The rest looks like expensive fluff. And pedestrians will still have to walk around wheeled transport. Could we please keep the rates down and stick to some signs only for this scheme.

  12. Ross Clark, 17. June 2021, 0:35

    Everything else held equal, getting cars out of the Golden Mile will both help bus traffic flow more easily and potentially, car traffic flow more easily as well – the trick is to reduce or remove the on-street parking.

    The other thing is that if light rail is built, cars would have to be removed from the Golden Mile anyway. But be warned, the disruption from building any light rail scheme will be substantial.

  13. Claire, 17. June 2021, 8:03

    Mike: when you are referring to surveys or small numbers of submissions, these samples are too small to be making decisions on. This is borne out when an issue begins to be applied after an avalanche of resistance. A good example is the spatial plan. I imagine a car free golden mile will not be on the majority’s wishlist.

  14. Geoff, 17. June 2021, 8:38

    I dont think taxi stands are needed. They should be on side streets. Everyone i know uses Uber anyway.

  15. Greenwelly, 17. June 2021, 9:11

    Geoff, if they are let Ubers on to the Golden Mile, then it’s pretty much going to be a disaster… especially at the CP end. On a Friday and Saturday night, pretty much all the car traffic is ride shares already; they need to be restricted to the side streets as well.

  16. Gwynn Compton, 17. June 2021, 9:52

    Having lived around and worked on Wellington’s Golden Mile over the years, pedestrianising it will be fantastic and provide badly needed rejuvenation. Bourke St Mall in Melbourne, Queen St in Cardiff, and Kärntner Strasse in Vienna all show the potential. You also only have to look at the likes of Melbourne, Cardiff, and Vienna to see that pedestrianisation has been a massive boom for retail. Wellington has a really exciting opportunity here to transform its city centre to something much more modern, vibrant, and thriving.[via twitter]

  17. Keith Flinders, 17. June 2021, 10:47

    In 2016 I sat at the bus stop outside Pastoral House from 07:00 – 09:00 surveying the traffic along Lambton Quay. From that survey I concluded that the removal of private cars only wouldn’t make an appreciable difference in the mornings, but combined with the removal of taxis, courier vans and delivery trucks there was a gain to be had. The evening peak certainly saw more north bound private cars along the Golden Mile.

    Featherston Street takes the majority of south bound private car usage during the morning peak, but there isn’t such a route for north bound vehicles in the evening peak. Persuading the majority car users to change to public transport is crucial, but the current service is both unreliable and inadequate so shunned by many.

    I anticipate that the CBD will return to its vibrant self once the COVID issue is well behind us, so the additional proposed space for pedestrians will be a decided enhancement to the crowded footpaths. However convoys of diesel buses not able to pass one another will still see traffic congestion. Mass transit such as light rail has to be the ultimate solution, Railway Station to Courtenay Place and beyond, surely.

  18. Dave B, 17. June 2021, 12:46

    Cuba Mall is a good example of how a street can thrive without cars dominating it.

  19. Barry Salter, 17. June 2021, 13:00

    As a former resident of Wellington for 8 years I well remember battling my way around the corner of Lambton Quay and Stout Street into a northerly “breeze”. Perhaps the “artist’s impression” should reflect the truth about the city’s weather!!

  20. GK, 17. June 2021, 13:18

    Conor, Erentz: LGWM’s preferred rapid transit is via Jervois Quay etc (and has been for a while). See LGWM technical documents. Also LGWM’s concept renders of rapid transit in the central city all show Jervois Quay rather than Lambton Quay.

    Greenwelly: Sick and tired of the endless rounds of consultation. Tempted to write “just get on with it” as a submission next time.

    Keith: “convoys of diesel buses” … likely many will be electric by the time anything actually happens.

  21. Keith Flinders, 17. June 2021, 16:40

    GK: You are likely correct re the buses, but they will be battery ones rather than electric, as the trolley buses were here and still are in many parts of the world. Battery buses will offer less pollution, but at what cost and degradation to the third world countries the lithium is extracted from? A 2019 inventory of the bus fleet in the Wellington region is here. There are around 150 pre-2012 diesel buses running, most of which which should be out of service. Of the rest, most are 2018/19 Euro 5 and 6 builds which will be on our streets to at least 2030.

  22. Greenwelly, 17. June 2021, 17:06

    “but at what cost and degradation to the third world countries the lithium is extracted from?” I know Australia is not flash, but calling it 3rd world is a bit much 🙂 ..

  23. TrevorH, 17. June 2021, 19:15

    Pedestrianisation of longstanding, commercially important thoroughfares is a disaster. It has been tried and it has failed many times, even our own Manners Mall bears mute witness. I only hope the WCC has invested in a comprehensive collection of Barry Manilow tapes (Happy 78th Birthday today Barry!) to play 24/7 throughout the empty spaces to keep bored adolescents away.

  24. Ben Schrader, 17. June 2021, 20:44

    TrevorH, there are many cities where the pedestrianisation of main commercial streets works really well and has revitalised central cities, such as Grenoble (France) and, more locally, Christchurch/Ōtautahi. I can’t wait for an extended Midland Park to sit and people-watch. It might also include greater recognition of Kumutoto Pā that was situated across the street from it. I’d be less keen on 24/7 Barry Manilow, though I hope he had a happy birthday.

  25. Dave B, 17. June 2021, 20:49

    Pedestrianisation of longstanding, commercially important thoroughfares is a winner. It has been tried and it has succeeded many times, even our own Manners Mall bears mute witness (before it was ripped out and turned into a bus-thoroughfare).

    Go to any city in Europe and chances are you will find a car-free commercial area that is thriving. Or if Covid restrictions preclude going to Europe, go to Cuba Mall instead.

  26. Lindsay, 17. June 2021, 22:26

    Pedestrianisation of Cuba Street, which was for decades a commercially important thoroughfare, has been a huge success. The popularity of Cuba Street, day and night, shows how getting rid of traffic can create a real place for people to gather (and for shops to thrive), as has also been proven in cities all over the world.

  27. Kōmerata, 17. June 2021, 23:23

    Best times I ever had on Courtenay Place were the nights of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final and the Hobbit Premiere. Both times it was closed the whole length, there were people everywhere and not a car in sight.

  28. GK, 18. June 2021, 10:21

    Trevor: Unsure why you are talking about pedestrianisation as that is not what is happening to the Golden Mile.

    Keith: Few mistakes in your fleet list – NZ Bus 2500 series are all Euro 5 and Tranzit 3153 & 3180 operate in Palmerston North (Horizons contract). Also since compiling your list, Euro 6 bus TranzUrban 3501 has been converted to battery electric (with more to follow if prototype conversion is successful). Lithium – Australia is by far the largest producer.

  29. Bowen Down, 18. June 2021, 11:10

    Having just walked the length of Lambton Quay both directions this morning between 10-11am, I found it extremely quiet. Nice wide footpaths already. It sounds great but I’m not sure this is really needed to be honest.

  30. michael, 18. June 2021, 11:36

    Dave B. I agree that all over Europe car-free places are thriving, but they all also have great public transport systems which Wellington does not. Unless people can get in and out of the city easily on public transport they will stop coming. The city needs people to survive.

  31. K, 18. June 2021, 12:28

    Bowen Down: Try the lunch hour and a nice summer’s day and it’s absolutely crammed, not a spot to be found to sit in Midland Park. In my mind Melbourne’s central city pedestrianized streets (with public transport included) show how vibrant and exciting these ideas are. Like was mentioned above, how good Courenay Place is when traffic is removed (RWC and red carpet movie premieres). The most fun I have had on lambton quay was when they removed traffic for the 2019 Santa celebration with events/activities/food outlets up and down its length and tens of thousands of people everywhere. Also see the recent Cubadupa which was bloody fantastic.

  32. Keith Flinders, 18. June 2021, 14:17

    GK: Thanks for the information. I will update the list in line with your findings. Most of the information I have comes from an Australian based bus fleet website.

    Going back to the LGWM preference for mass transit along the Quays: It will be interesting to see how they will deal with the evening peak, in particular, with the Golden Mile closed to traffic, two lanes given over to light rail/or whatever, and Wellingtonians still attached to their cars in the same or increasing numbers. if light rail, then there will be an issue getting sufficient road space for the minimum turning radius required at Taranaki Street.

  33. Bowen Down, 18. June 2021, 14:38

    K: Like I say it sounds like a good idea but I’m not sure it’s going to make much difference to the area, it’s not difficult to get around as a pedestrian already. I noticed empty shops, Astoria shut down, David Jones closing, the trend seems to be people working from home. We need cheaper rent/lease for businesses on the golden mile to make it more feasible for them to operate and that in turn would attract more people.

  34. Kara, 18. June 2021, 15:23

    WCC needs to let us know exactly how $52m – $79m will be spent on for making CP to Lambton Quay mostly vehicle free. No need for fancy designs. Just provide bollards that will recess far enough to allow entry by buses.

  35. Claire, 18. June 2021, 15:54

    Use this opportunity to put in apartments to keep more people in the area. That way businesses will have more custom at later hours all week. Ticks a few boxes: housing, retail use, and people living and working in the same place.

  36. Greenwelly, 18. June 2021, 16:50

    Kara, the next big question is who pays for it… Pretty sure the WCC didn’t make an allocation for LGWM in its recent LTP.

  37. Ana Singh, 19. June 2021, 7:36

    Public transport needs to be cheaper and more frequent.
    From my home it takes over an hour if I catch a bus. By car, it takes 30 mins or less.

  38. Robin Bright, 19. June 2021, 11:50

    Marvellous concept. Go for it! It has the potential to attract more people, including tourists into the area. However peripheral parking needs to be a priority.
    La Rambla move over.

  39. Roger Blakeley, 19. June 2021, 18:10

    Let’s Get Wellington Moving chose the “transform” option for the Golden Mile: pedestrianisation & buses. Retailers can be assured – in other cities in the world it has resulted in more foot traffic and more retail spend. [via twitter]

  40. Toni, 19. June 2021, 22:23

    Roger Blakeley, I can’t see how you can reassure retailers that there will be more foot traffic and spending when this relies on a smart, efficient and fast public transport system which we do not have. Even now people will not come into the city unless they have to and the transport problems are years away from being solved. Fix the public transport problem first, and then all else can follow.

  41. Mike Mellor, 20. June 2021, 11:13

    Toni, the poor performance of the Golden Mile for buses and their passengers affects the whole Wellington city bus network, out as far as Eastbourne, Lower Hutt and Porirua.

    Apart from its other benefits, this is the single most important current infrastructure project required to get the bus system that we need, and putting it off will ensure that transport problems will be years away from being solved.

    It is in fact fixing the public transport problem first, so that all else can indeed follow.