Great Harbour Way welcomes NZTA consultation but says lives are at risk

The Petone-Ngauranga foreshore route is blocked now, but this is set to change

Great Harbour Way Trust Chair Graeme Hall says “The Ngauranga to Petone path will form a vital section of Wellington’s Great Harbour Way / Te Aranui o Pōneke – a continuous 72-kilometre route for walkers and cyclists around the perimeter of Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington harbour), from Ōrua- pouanui /Baring Head in the east, to Te Rimurapa / Sinclair Head in the west. It will be a spectacular way to experience the beauty of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the region’s vibrant communities, and its stunning coastline and wildlife including lizards, seals, dolphins, penguins
and seabirds.”

Trustee Celia Wade-Brown, former Wellington Mayor and Living Streets Aotearoa Secretary, says “The NZTA designs show plenty of space for resting and enjoying the landscape as well as running, walking or cycling. Kayakers can come up to landing spots like the waka used to come up to ngā uranga or landing places. This project offers signifcant opportunities for improving penguin habitat, predator control and native planting. Obvious benefits include greater resilience to climate change sea level rise and increased storms for the Hutt Valley railway and SH2.”

However with the length of time for consultation, consents and construction, the Trust urges NZTA to improve the existing pathway and protect walkers, runners and cyclists from passing traffic. “If it will be three or four years before it’s finished, lives will be at risk unless the current 1.4 kilometres of unprotected shoulder south of Petone is improved from its current dreadful state.” Says Ron Beernink, a commuter cyclist and trustee of the Great Harbour Way Trust.

The completed Great Harbour Way will offer a unique opportunity to walk, run or cycle the entire coastline of a major city harbour, accessing communities, beaches, forest, parks, marae, marinas, cafes, theatres and shopping along the way. This flat, safe and continuous route along the water’s edge will be possible to walk in 3-5 days, and to cycle in 1-2. The route is also connected by ferries, buses, trains so sections can easily be accessed.

Check out the NZTA project page, including images and video. There’s a very cool SocialPoint site where you can make comments on the route. Everybody can have their say on the proposed design, by 21 June 2019.

NZTA concept for path at Horokiwi

Improved cycle/walk path between Point Howard and Days Bay

Pedestrians and cyclists on a climate change event, Mahina Bay

Currently walking and cycling the GHW between Point Howard and Days Bay on the eastern side of the harbour is not a pleasant experience. Only a very narrow strip has been allocated to cyclists and pedestrians with little separation from traffic.

However, Hutt City Council has applied for resource consent to construct a 4.4km shared path along Marine Drive between Point Howard and Days Bay, and on to Eastbourne. When completed, this will be a significant upgrade to the Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke. It will be important to ensure that the path has appropriate width, speed management and signage to ensure safe and enjoyable sharing for people on foot, bike, and scooters.

Shelly Bay Shenanigans and the GHW

How will proposed developments at Shelly Bay affect the Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke? GHW Trust chair wrote this letter to the Dominion Post.

Chocolate Fish, Shelly Bay

In the heated debate about Shelly Bay and the scale of development, people have made valid points regarding the inadequacy of the road upgrade, should development proceed.

Shelly Bay to Scorching Bay is one of the most important and well-loved sections of the Great Harbour Way; one of the most important recreational spaces in Wellington. The proposed Heritage Park at the north end of the peninsula will make it an even more attractive destination.

If hundreds more cars and trucks will use it daily, then walkers and cyclists need substantially better protection. How can the council accept a 6-metre wide road with 1.5 metres of pedestrian space when its specialist report recommended a 14 metre-wide road and 8 metre walk-bike path? Maybe parts could be one-way for motorised traffic.

NZTA’s announcement this month to support the seaward Petone-Ngauranga section means Wellington’s 72km Great Harbour Way will become a magnet for commuting and tourism.

The current Shelly Bay plan could diminish and perhaps even sacrifice that opportunity. Council has invested in appropriate pathway provision elsewhere such as Evans Bay and Oriental Bay. It seems ironic and short-sighted that on this particularly attractive section Council is not staunchly requiring compliance from developers.

At last! NZTA commit to “fixing the gap” in visionary Great Harbour Way

The Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke Trust hailed NZTA’s decision to proceed with funding the iconic Hutt Valley-Wellington cycling and walking seaward path, announced by Minister Julie Anne Genter at Point Jerningham. The occasion also marked the start of work on a separated cycle path around Evans Bay, another key part of the GHW.

Celebrating the NZTA announcement and the start of the Evans Bay Cycleway: Ron Beernink, Celia Wade-Brown, Graeme Hall, Julie Anne Genter, Sarah Free, Hugh Wilson and Justin Lester (with the mayoral tie at a suitably Wellington angle!)

GHW and sea level rise

GHW incorporates wave protection on Marine Drive to Eastbourne

How will the Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke manage with the sea level rise? Average sea levels are predicted to rise by between 0.2m and 2m by 2100. Much of the GHW is around 0.5m above mean sea level, so this is a natural concern.

However the GHW is pretty resilient against sea level rise, and indeed offers resilience to other critical infrastructure.

  • For a significant period, the issue will not be the overall rise in sea level, but the increase in storm events, higher high tides etc. We’re already seeing this, for example with the June 2013 storm that undercut part of the Ngauranga – Petone Rail line.

Storm damage to Petone -Ngauranga rail line, June 2013. The planned P2N section of the GHW would have protected the rail line against this.

  • While the GHW is an important active transport route, it’s less critical than road or rail routes. In the storm events that would close sections of the GHW, it’s likely that walkers and bikers will use alternatives or work from home.
  • A cycling/walking route acts as a resilient buffer between waves and road, as already happens on the GHW on Marine Drive between Seaview and Eastbourne. Adding resilience to the strategic Hutt Railway line is an significant benefit of the planned Petone to Ngauranga seaward cycling and walking path.

As mean sea level rises (for example if significant Antarctica or Greenland ice sheets melt), it’s likely that the GHW along with other infrastructure will need to be moved or modified – perhaps using floating boardwalks as is used on parts of the Waikato River Trails. But this will be easier than raising roads or rail lines.

The GHW, by providing good active transport alternatives, will reduce our fossil fuel emissions to levels that will hold off the worst effects of climate change and sea level rise. WCC has a Low Carbon Capital plan that aims for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Investing in the GHW, particularly by fixing the P2N gap that separates the Hutt from the Wellington CBD, will play a part in achieving that target.