Below Stuff’s article on the Government announcement to fast track the Great Harbour Way path as part of its ‘shovel-ready projects’. The article focuses on the benefit for cyclists, but obviously it is a huge benefit for walkers as well and tourism in general. Fantastic news indeed!
Press release from the Great Harbour Way Trust
A key group that has fought for nearly two decades for the creation of a safe cycling and walking link between Wellington and Petone says the government’s announcement that the project will be fast-tracked is “a dream come true”.
Graeme Hall, chair of the Great Harbour Way/Te Aranui o Poneke Trust, said the trail, Te Ara Tupuna, would change the face of Wellington and introduce people of all ages to new activities and new views of the harbour. “While the primary purpose is to allow people to walk and cycle safely between the two cities, the trail will also feature viewing and fishing spots, beautiful artwork, and attractive landscaping. It will rapidly become a hugely popular attraction with both locals and tourists.”
Hall said the group had been given a preview of the design and had “been completely blown away”. “NZTA has done a truly world-class job,” he said. “Everything has been thought of, including safety, night lighting, shelter, and natural habitat protection. The design is highly impressive.”
The Great Harbour Way project had its genesis in 2003, when a group of women led by former city councillor Mary Varnham walked the harbour perimeter over three days and realised it offered something almost unique in the world as all the land by the water was in public ownership. The only gap was Petone to Ngauranga. “Once this is complete, it will enable the whole route to be developed.” Hall said. “It’s an exciting prospect.”
One of the most active members of the trust, Alastair Smith, a passionate cyclist who was tireless in his advocacy for the project, died last November after a long battle with cancer. “We will be raising a celebratory glass to Alastair,” Hall said.
For further information and comment contact Graeme Hall at 021606101, Graeme@Rutherfordsloan.co.nz
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
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.
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.
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.
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.