Waterfront Auckland Loses Focus #1

On December 6, 2011 by Eye on Auckland

Waterfront Auckland losing focus ?

I hereby give you permission to cry wholeheartedly, to throw up all over the place, to bombard Waterfront Auckland with complaints and/or shake your head wildly in disbelief. Just when we thought that things were moving in the right direction and that the powers-that-be weren’t just full of hot air and empty promises, things have started regressing and all indicators point to the fact that Waterfront Auckland have lost control of Wynyard Quarter. Let’s hope that I am wrong and that they have only lost focus, the latter will be much easier to fix. We can give them a shake and remind them of the promises that they had made to all and sundry i.e. to make Auckland a people friendly city, to focus on the people and to not focus on cars, to rid our streets and heritage buildings of visual pollution and clutter, to create a vibrant city with an emphasis on better design and to transform Auckland into a sophisticated World class city. My report card will prove that  Waterfront Auckland and all those involved are currently failing abysmally.

Let’s start our tour – it isn’t going to be an easy pill to swallow but we need to show you the truth and we need to expose the liars that like to pull the wool over our eyes. Our first stop is none other than WYNYARD QUARTER. Oh my, will they ever get it right ? first it was the problem of cars (article) parking where ever there was a free spot and now it is advertising that has gone viral. The people at Waterfront Auckland are making it loud and clear that Wynyard Quarter  is a business venture and to hell with the people who want to use it, what’s worse is that they don’t give a damn about blind people either. Super size me sandwich boards and other forms of advertising are springing up all over the sidewalks – impeding pedestrians and blocking access ways. Tables and chairs have also been allowed to sprawl up to and against the crate seating – to hell with people wanting to walk and/or sit there, never mind the fact that this is the only area that will provide you with some cover should the heavens open up. As for the car-parking problems, well they have not been fixed and it is just as bad as it was before. Pavements / access ways are now loading zones and car parks for the owners of the restaurants in the vicinity – all at your expense and inconvenience. Some of the restaurants already look “tired” and “bogan as” – the plastic facades don’t help either. It is safe to say that the area is starting to look like one big shanty town.

The area has already lost it’s appeal for many people and like myself they are no longer hanging out there. They would much rather be seen at the Eastern Viaduct where there are no cars, no clutter, no “plastic bowls”, no visual pollution and no “landmines” in your way. I spoke to a lady at The Silo Park who told me that she only goes there because of the children’s playground and that she finds the whole area distasteful. As soon as an establishment starts placing huge sandwich boards in front of your view and treating you like some goldfish in a plastic tank then you know that your interests as a paying customer no longer matters. I can fully understand that if there are gales and rain then you need the plastic for protection but NOT when it is 25 degrees and only a breeze. Sandwich boards  are so 70′s and Wynyard Quarter is not the place for them – rules and design standards should have been set up from the start and one can’t help thinking that the people in the driving seat have lost their way. Let’s hope that it isn’t too late and that the area can be saved from becoming the biggest bogan hell-hole in Auckland. For now my money and I prefer to stay away.

The following photograph was taken before restaurant seating spilled out towards the crate public seating. It is quite evident that advertising/sandwich boards are already starting to block the pathway:

Once upon a time you could zig-zag in-between the advertising and clutter. You could also sit facing either direction on the crate seats. Now you have to squeeze though tables and forget about sitting on the crate seats facing the restaurants. Super size sandwich boards have now moved onto the sea-facing side of the boardwalk as well:

Clutter / advertising is spread out across the access paths leading from the sea-ward side to Jellicoe Street. Very clever and very thoughtful.  You are left with a little access path to the right of the advertising and guess who paid for the paving ?, definitely not the sandwich boards:

After my last post, we were promised that the parking issues will be sorted and cars will be towed. If this is what they call sorted then I do not want to see chaos – I forget, we have already seen Waterfront Auckland at their worse and they aren’t getting any better at managing things – the complete opposite in fact. Access paths are blocked by cars once again (all photographs taken on the same day within minutes of each other):

Urban Turban’s Company car has been parking here (opposite the Urban Turban Restaurant) every day that I have walked through the Wynyard Quarter and nothing has been done about it:

Welcome to Tent Town:

Now one would think that major cleaning works take place before people start arriving i.e. 6/7 am. No – not at Wynyard Quarter. They will start cleaning once people have arrived and block off the tidal steps, spoil the ambience for everybody trying to relax at Karanga Plaza and to hell with the water views. It is a stage and Auckland Council cleaners are the main act:


The following photographs were taken on the 30 of September 2011, a wide open and orderly Boulevard for people to stroll freely. When you compare these photographs with the ones above, it becomes evident that the area has regressed into some Third World free-for-all slum camp.

Final Note:

Wymyard Quarter is a mess and not a pleasant pace to be – at all. I have heard people describe Auckland as the “City of Village Idiots” and there does seem to be some truth to it especially when you look at the mess that Wynyard Quarter is in. I don’t know if the people in charge are amateurs or if they just can’t be bothered but one thing is for certain – something needs to be done and/or somebody needs to be replaced. This is an embarrassment to say the least. In Part 2 I will show you the Te Wero Island / Viaduct area – a very, very, very happy place for cars and clutter.

Update | 07 DEC 11:

I went for a walk through Wynyard Quarter this morning and things seem to be even worse today:

Vans and trucks parked across pavements. Super size me sandwich boards are also appearing on the Jellicoe Street side:

Advertising getting bigger and bigger, blocking pedestrian flow (the Rushworth sandwich board also blocks the sea view of the patrons sitting at their tables – selfish ? yes indeed) :

 Look at this bright spark, parks on the tram tracks and challenges the tram:

I have saved the best for last, have you ever seen such tasteless restaurant furniture (wine barrel tables) – 100% pure bogan ! One would think that Auckland Waterfront would have design guidelines in order to maintain some level of  sophistication.

Since I posted this article I have had many emails from concerned citizens. I have emailed this link to John Dalzell, Mike Lee, Ludo Campbell-Reid, Len Brown, Shale Chambers, Christopher Dempsey and Pippa Coom. Let’s see who is brave enough to tackle this issue and who will be able to resolve these problems.

39 Responses to “Waterfront Auckland Loses Focus #1”

  • Suffrage

    Unbelievable, the contrast between the September photographs and now are SHOCKING! Who is responsible for letting things get so out of control ? I haven’t been down to the Wynayrd Quarter for a long time and judging by this it is best that I stay away. Somebody needs to please explain and clean things up. I am so mad right now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Virginia

    I’ve visited Wynyard Quarter more than a dozen times.
    No matter what the weather, a cool wind blows directly off the harbour, hence the TENT TOWN effect. Permanent GLASS sidings would definitely enhance the area. The plastic looks cheap & I doubt would stand up to a howling gale.

    I have found the car park area parallel to the playground excellent so don’t understand why any of the other vehicles can’t navigate their way there as well, especially considering all the navmans and iphone apps on peoples phones that everyone seems to have.

    The thoroughfares need financial deterrents to stop people parking there. At $180 per vehicle, Tow Away signs should do the trick.

    Rather than have sandwich boards placed on the pedestrian areas, signage positioned against the venues, so that is directly facing pedestrians as they walk towards them would look far superior AND they would be at eye level.

    • The Eye

      You are correct Virginia, there is always a breeze/wind blowing there but it isn’t going to blow anybody away. Jack Tar doesn’t have the plastic awnings but they always have people sitting outdoors, it looks and feels more appealing. They need to find alternatives or else it is going to always look cheap and nasty.

      Some of the parking along Jellicoe should be used as a loading zone during specified times, just as in the shared spaces. I get the feeling that things weren’t planned properly and that they have bitten off more than they can chew.

      I agree with you about the signs. Then again even that isn’t necessary. People look around them and they can see what is on offer without having to be bombarded with signage. People are curious by nature – it is easy to see that this is a restaurant and that this is a cafe and that this is a bar. If they aren’t sure then they must go in and explore – that is part of the adventure :)

  • ToiToi

    I am sorry to say this but it isn’t just a problem at Wynyard Quarter, it is happening all over Auckland. I have to agree that the old Viaduct is a much nicer place to be. It is clean, unobtrusive, sophisticated, stylish and the interior design is leagues ahead of what they offer at Wynyard Quarter. The best thing for me is Silo Park but that is about all. As for the management at Wynyard Quarter, fire them all.

    Welcome back.

  • Matt

    Welcome back. This is the strangest thing, yesterday I had to make a delivery at Wynyard Quarter and I noticed the exact same thing. The place looks horrible right now and I also prefer the old Viaduct area to this abomination. The lack of planning is evident, why are there no loading zones ? why are there no bollards but instead they use cheap and tacky benches to block pedestrian flow. It is looking more like Mumbai than Auckland. Heads need to roll.

  • Gollum

    Shocking, what is happening at Wynyard Quarter reeks of desperation. It is quite evident that Waterfront Auckland don’t have a clue and that they are in over their heads. Bad planning, bad management, bad service.

  • James

    Never mind Wynyard Quarter, has anybody seen the state of the shared spaces in the city ? I can’t help thinking that things are deteriorating. It seems that the more we change things the worse they get.

    Can’t we swap our Council for Melbourne’s ? Please !

    • ToiToi

      That is the best idea ever, An exchange of councils but we don’t want ours back. Melbourne knows how to do things properly from the start.

  • Virginia

    The problem with the signage at the Wynyard Quartr is that it is sprawled around willy nilly, here and there obstructing PEDESTRIAN foot traffic.

    This amazing wharf area has opened up Auckland’s view to the water’s edge amongst yachts and other vessels.

    How is this for an idea: Daily chalkboard signage could be hoisted up flag poles much like sails. Each flag pole could have the business name displayed along the cross bar at the very top and the temporary signage hoisted and tied off beneath it. I think it would look GREAT and so befitting the actual area. Make a feature of it, rather than an obstacle.

    • Alan

      That is the solution right there, make a feature of it and not an obstacle. I like your idea and there must be many other ideas that will offer a solution. Sandwich boards are very out-dated and unnecessary.

  • Gordon

    John Dalzell, you are the weakest link, bye bye.

    My blood is boiling at the sight of what should be our best face forward. Symbolic of the city that we want to be; eco-friendly, people focused, modern and sophisticated. This just shouts the complete opposite.

    I for one demand answers and I want this mess cleaned up. If John Dalzell isn’t up to the job then he needs to go and we will find somebody from Copenhagen or Melbourne who can do the job.

  • Melboy

    LOL. I am from Melbourne and when I heard that Auckland was the 3rd most liveable city and that it is one of the top 10 cities that think about people I couldn’t help collapsing with laughter. Just look at these photographs, your Council doesn’t have a clue. More like most liveable city for cars LOL. Pathetic Auckland !

  • MollyBrown

    We now have a new word for tacky – Wynyard Quarter.

    I had really hoped that Waterfront Auckland will pull together and sort things out but it is far worse then ever before. In general I am finding that things are deteriorating across the city, except for Britomart. These guys can learn a lot from the people at Brirtomart. Let’s get rid of our incompetent Council and ask the boys at Britomart to run things for us.

  • MollyBrown

    I have posted this in the other article but I think that it is also valid here:

    We should boycott all these people who litter our streets with their junk. Let’s face it, they don’t spare a thought for the pedestrians (or the blind) so why should we spare a thought for them. To hell with them I say.

  • RichardUK

    I came over to NZ for the RWC and i loved Wynyard Quarter but back then it looked so much better. Now it looks as if it has been around for 20 years, people have abandoned it and that it has become warehouses full of delivery trucks.

    I am amazed at the truck driver parking on the tram trucks, man ! are there really so many stupid people there. As for the barrel furniture – puke !

    I hope that you have luck with this because it can’t continue like this. Auckland should consult you and you can show them the error of their ways.

    As for Melboy, I couldn’t agree more. This is a pathetic showing Auckland.

  • Margaret

    Thank heavens for the likes of you or else these examples of mismanagement will go undetected. It would appear that Waterfront Auckland is some Mickey Mouse operation, not knowing their ass from their elbows. I would hate to hang around there with all the cars and clutter.

  • BusFan

    Where have you been ? I missed all my updates :)

    What can I say but Wow, this is one royal cock up. The best thing about Wynyard Quarter is the free bus. Somebody mentioned that the glut of advertising reeks of desperation and I tend to agree with them.

    Auckland will never be a people friendly city or a city of wide open spaces and boulevards. If they can’t get it right here then they will never get it right.

    Auckland Council needs fresh blood, out with the old and in with the new I say.

  • Hotpixel

    Disappointing is an under-statement. I haven’t been to the area for some time but I can see that I am not missing much at all. Shame on you Waterfront Auckland.

  • Karumba

    Why do you even bother. It is clear that the Auckland Council don’t practice what they preach and Waterfront Auckland don’t know what they are doing, they haven’t a clue.

    Kudos to you for trying but I have learned a long time ago to not expect too much. Oh before I forget, welcome back.

  • Geoff

    I went there this morning and the place looks like a shit-hole. Totally abandoned apart from delivery trucks, tradesmen and the odd perplexed tourist. The same can’t be said for the Viaduct which is teeming with life and looks far better than this disaster in the making.

    Good to have you back online.

  • AndrewF

    I agree wholeheartedly, boycott these restaurants who are insist on blocking the walkways, if they don’t think about us why should we think about them.

    @ Waterfront Auckland, pull your finger out of your ass and do something right for a change. Get some class for starters.

  • Carlos

    These photographs have left a very sour taste in my mouth. I am not impressed with the way that they are running things at Wynyard Quarter. Top level management need to re-evaluate their priorities (people or cars) and if they can’t do it then they need to do the right thing and resign.

  • Osmand

    Woah, what a shocker ! I wasn’t expecting this. I am planning on taking some visitors to see Wynyard Quarter this weekend but not when it looks like this, it is embarrassing. Why must we always be treated as 3rd grade citizens in our own city ?

  • Moira

    Since many of the restaurants at the Viaduct have had upgrades, the area feels newer than Wynyard Quarter. The Viaduct is way more pedestrian friendly and a lot neater. One likes sitting around the Viaduct.

    The only things that I like about Wynyard Quarter is the tidal steps. I couldn’t be bothered about Silo Park because I don’t have children but for the most I tend to stay away from Wynyard Quarter. You are right, it is a mess and the people running the show can learn from Britomart.

  • BrianB

    OMG those barrel tables are the worst things that I have ever seen. They are the epitome of bad taste LOL LOL LOL.

    What can be said about the other issues, I am dumbstruck *shakes head in disbelief*

  • little_miss_muffet

    I must say I could have written this article myself. It was always with great excitement I used to walk to work via Wynard Quarter, but that has all been ruined with the sandwich boards and cars and trucks parked where they should not be parked. I don’t think John Dalzell and his team realise that it amounts to a slap in the face of the pedestrians and visitors to the area when such behaviour is tolerated and seemingly sanctioned by the powers that be. I much prefer walking through the Viaduct now where at least I am not competing with cars for walking space.

    As far as the plastic walls go they are a diabolical failure and not commensurate with a development of this calibre. Get rid of them and place sliding glass walls that can be opened fully when required. I don’t want to pay $60+ for a meal and feel like I am eating it in a tent somewhere on the Tundra.

    For me Britomart and Imperial Lane are the place to be. For a start they want me there and I am not some second thought that has to be catered for.

    What about the ‘public ramp’ that has remained more closed to the public than it has been open. Poor design if it needs to be closed for any event in the Events Centre. Rather just shut it down – at least then I won’t have any expectations of been able to use it should I find myself in the vicinity again.

    All in all a big FAIL for Wynyard Quarter and for now my money is spent elsewhere.

  • Tui

    Well said, I fully agree.

  • Abeltasman

    LukeH (Waterfront Auckland) kindly replied in the other post but I think that it is best suited for this post.

    “Thanks for your comments. Our Property Manager is more than happy to meet and walk around these sites with you to better understand your concerns. Feel free to contact us at Waterfront Auckland on 336 8820.”

  • Trainfan

    Piss poor planning.

  • MichaelL

    Instead of relying on the photographs, I went for a walk through the area this morning and it looks as if they are trying to clean it up but places like Rushworth (huge sandwich board in front of the cafe), Urban Turban and Pescado are definitely a big mess. The chairs are spilling out onto the public seating and it looks horrible. Pescado is the worst of the lot and doesn’t belong in Wynyard Quarter, more like Otara.

  • Goody2shoes

    Pescado is the boil on the landscape, they are by far the worst in terms of clutter, bad design and attitude. If they don’t have any respect for the people using Wynyard Quarter why should we support them. As for the rest of the area, let’s hope that they get it right once and for all.

    P.S. Welcome back.

  • Trainhugger

    P.A.T.H.E.T.I.C Waterfront Auckland. If this is the way things are heading then I can’t be bothered with what the future holds for us.

  • Monster Munch

    A friend of mine works with the architects that helped with the mater plan and he says that they aren’t too happy with the way Waterfront Auckland is running things. It is not the vision that they had.

  • Geoff Houtman

    You nailed it.

    John Dalzell needs flicking now. Waterfront Auckland still works under a veil of secrecy, under him (and Bob?) this is unlikely to change.

    They steal from others- the damn Telecom tree from Western park is now moored in a carpark.

    Wynyard Wharf however, is nowhere near as garish as it will be in the future, just wait til the 30m and 50m+ buildings start popping up, termite nests, ghost hotels- I’m shivering already.

    • The Eye

      Hi Geoff,

      I have heard from a reliable source that all isn’t rosy at Waterfront Auckland – a case of too many Chiefs (with large egos) and too little Indians. It shows when you look at the lack of planning. I have a meeting with Waterfront Auckland later this month and I will report back asap. Stay tuned :)

  • The Eye

    Just an update, I have been invited by Waterfront Auckland to take a tour and have a chat with them. I have also noticed that the sandwich boards have been removed from the main access paths, bollards have been installed along Jellicoe Street to prevent cars from parking where they please and it looks as if Pescado are removing those hideous barrel tables (albeit at a slow pace). All in all there is hope for a great Wynyard Quarter.

    Also, a big thanks to all those who bother commenting and showing their support, this is the only way that we can make a difference and create a better, more pedestrian friendly city.

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