City of Barricades

On February 3, 2012 by Eye on Auckland

City Streets slowly but surely becoming barricades.

You may have noticed this as well, establishments such as No 1 High Street, McDonalds, Movenpick, Zaytoon Mediterranean Cafe & Food, No 1 Queen Street Cafe & Bar, My Bar and Renkon are turning our city streets into barricades. They are tacky, untidy, obstruct view shafts, use valuable pavement space, isolate their patrons – detaching them and the pedestrian from the vibrancy that is street life and only tend to clutter our pavements. These barricades are unsophisticated and belong in the 20th Century, not in a sophisticated city striving to become the World’s most liveable. I sincerely hope that this isn’t a new regulation being imposed by The Auckland Council – it will be their biggest error in over a decade.  I can only hope that they put an end to these hideous barricades once and for all before it is out of control.  The above-mentioned establishments obviously have no respect for the aesthetic character of our city and/or the pedestrians – they should be ashamed.

I don’t know about you but when I  am spending good money and making use of an establishments outdoor seating, I like to look at the passing parade and have unobstructed views – isn’t that what city life and cafe culture is all about ? I don’t want to sit behind some hideous barricade that does nothing but diminish the experience. Let’s look at it from a pedestrian’s point of view, the very same barricades obstruct view shafts up and down the street, they look a mess, they use space that is already at a premium and they are exclusive i.e. you are not a part of the experience – apartheid anybody ? Not all is lost though, there are establishments such as Hotel de Brett’s Corner Bar and Elliott Stables who consider the aesthetics of the area and they respect their patrons – it looks fantastic, sophisticated and inviting.  I for one would rather spend my hard earned cash at the afore-mentioned establishments. They say that a picture is worth a thousand  words so let’s look at a few.

The BAD:

No. 1 High Street is classy and sophisticated so it was a huge surprise to see that they have opted to follow the same route as McDonald’s – 10 points for placing tables outside but minus 50 for barricading the pavements of Shortland Street :

No 1 High Street Barricades

No 1 High Street Barricades looking towards Queen Street


Directly across the street from No 1 High Street is Hotel De Brett’s Corner Bar – classy inside and out, this is how our pavements should look if we want to join the likes of Copenhagen and  Melbourne:

Hotel De Brett's Corner Bar - a good example for others to follow.

The BAD:

If you though that barricades are bad, wait until you see the fortress that is being constructed on the corner of Queen and Quay Street. No 1 Queen Street Cafe & Bar used to be an open, inviting establishment – now it is enclosed by hideous, unmaintained barriers and looks more like a media circus than a cafe  and/or bar:

Fortress #1 Queen Street

Fortress #1 Queen Street


This is what No 1 Queen Street used to look like before things went ape and the establishment lost all their aesthetic values – less is more:

No 1 Queen Street Cafe & Bar in 2011, just a few months ago.

The BAD:

Now we get to McDonald’s – oh my ! They have created one of the biggest eye-sores in Britomart. How on earth did they get council approval for this mess ? This is one area that should have no outdoor seating areas. The area in question is where large amounts of people move between the Britomart Train Station and Queen Street, obviously this should remain unobstructed.  If they thought that barricades will keep people (and chairs) fenced in, then the following photograph proves them wrong:

McDonald's - Britomart. She knows what's good and prefers to sit outside of the barricades.

McDonald's - Britomart. Cringeworthy.


A few days ago I walked past The Britomart McDonald’s and made a wonderful discovery, the outdoor seating has been removed and the barricades have gone – well done McDonald’s, let’s hope that it stays that way. Much, much better – I think that I shall definitely be willing to spend a few Dollars at your establishment.

Much, much better. Wide open spaces for pedestrians and no longer looking like a shanty town.

The BAD:

Our next example is Movenpick, one of the worst offenders. What used to be a wide open “boulevard” with lots of space to walk and unobstructed view shafts has now been turned into what I can only refer to as a royal mess. Not only have they done this in Quay Street, they have also done the same in Newmarket along Broadway.  Strangely enough they haven’t done it Mission Bay and I hope that it stays that way. You will also notice that there are silver markers which mark the area which may be used for outdoor seating – their barriers are well past those markers and obstruct pedestrian flow. Get some class Movenpick and get rid of those hideous barriers, show some pride for our city and think of the pedestrians using the space:

Movenpick - Quay Street.

Movenpick - Quay Street. Shameful.

Movenpick - Quay Street. Barriers exceed provided space.


Now this is what it should look like at all Movenpick’s – far more inviting, pedestrian friendly and a show of civic pride:

A prime example for Movenpick to follow.

The BAD:

There is no denying that shared spaces are changing how people drive and how pedestrians use the spaces in our city but there are some establishments who just don’t get it. Such an establishment is Zaytoon Mediterranean Cafe & Food in Darby Street – there is no need for barriers around your outdoor seating areas, please, please remove them and try to be more inclusive. I also find it annoying that he has decided to claim the Nikau Palms as his territory. Those palms belong to everybody. I appreciate the fact that you had the decency to upgrade your establishment and it looks great but the barriers do not do you any justice.

An example of what not to do.


Just around the corner on Elliott Street, another shared space, is the Elliott Stables. Their outdoor seating is spot on, it looks great and it is very inviting – open and great for people watching:

Elliott Stables, a great example of what outdoor seating should be in The City of Sails.

The BAD:

Durham Lane is special – it is quaint and provides great sight-lines when you look down towards Queen Street and or up to High Street but for some unknown reason either My Bar and/or Renkon have had the stupid idea to go and spoil the Lane by placing barriers and thus removing any charm that the Lane did have. The barriers do not add anything to the Lane, they are unnecessary and look bogan as:

Durham Lane after the barriers have been installed.


I have my suspicion that My Bar is the guilty party – when they aren’t operating there are no barriers and the Lane looks great:

Durham Lane when there are no barriers - much better.

Here are a few more examples of the GOOD and what all establishments should be striving for:

Brew on Quay

Jack Tar


I already know what the Auckland Council is going to say – that they can’t be too pushy and impose too many restrictions etc. but that is what they are here for. The City needs restrictions or else we are going to end up looking like an unsophisticated bunch of cretins who have no style and/or any respect for our city. I for one am very passionate about Auckland and I want to be proud of my city – let’s make it happen. As for the establishments, please stop cluttering our pavements with crap and remember that we don’t want to be treated like children i.e. placed inside a child’s “play pen” – thank you.

23 Responses to “City of Barricades”

  • sj

    All the barriers look exactly the same! So do many of the chairs and tables.

    Is the council pushing this or is there some kind of outdoor cafe furniture monopoly in Auckland?

  • RichardUK

    You are quite right, that look’s terrible. It looks as if it belongs in some third world city and not in Auckland. The onus is on the Council to place restrictions on aspects that affect the pavements and outrightly ban them. On the other hand, the photographs that you showed as good examples look fantastic. I can only hope that the city acts as soon as possible.

  • Simone

    Man that is ugly. No 1 Queen Street has really made a huge mess of things. Is the Council even aware that this is going on ?

    • Mike

      Not council land so no.

      Our place took a huge hammering around world cup and has taken us couple of months to recover. Take a look in a couple of weeks.

  • James

    The biggest surprise for me is also No 1 High Street, why they chose this option is strange indeed. I hope that we never see this on our city streets again.

  • Suffrage

    I have noticed it as well and I don’t like it at all. Ban those barriers.

  • patrick

    I guess it’s for the people to have some privacy
    while eating, Just a thought!!

  • Geoff

    Some owners will say that it is there to protect people from the wind which is a load of rubbish. The wind always come through and you also have the option of sitting indoors. I would love to see these particular barriers removed and as you have shown there are alternatives which protect patrons and look much, much better.

  • Carlos

    +1 Couldn’t agree more, get rid of them.

  • Gian

    they all look suspiciously the same…

  • Karumba

    And very ugly !

  • No1 Queen Street

    Thanks The Eye
    Good article. Will have a chat with business partners. I like how the article offers good and bad comparisons.

    No 1 Queen Street Cafe & Bar

    • HotPixel

      Good on ya. Now if the others could follow your lead.

    • Gian

      Yes please sort it out, I used to come there because it was open and cool. Now it just looks so much like you want to hide yourself.

    • MollyBrown

      That’s very big of you to own up and do something about it, thanks.

      No 1 High Street can learn something from you, they have turned the corner of Shortland and High Street into a disaster zone.

  • James B

    I agree these things should go. It should be an easy fix.

  • annmarie

    I think some people are over re acting a bit. I fo rone wouldnt sit at a table outside on the side that does not have some barriers. It’s a bit of privacy form cars driving by. Even in Europe, cafes/bars/restaurants have plant barriers around their outdoor areas. Just go to Paris or San Tropez or London or Milan

    • Tui

      I think that you are missing the point, nobody said that you shouldn’t have barriers between cars and public seating (there are good examples of plant barriers being used in the post). What is being said is that the barriers being used by the likes of No 1 High Street are ugly, untidy and way too much. I agree wholeheartedly with this article and I hope that these establishments sit up and take notice the good examples that have been shown.

    • RichardUK

      Yes, London has tons of planters but those shown in this article are really ugly. The L’Assiette examples are great but it is still better to have none at all.

  • Graeme

    Erm, how about returning the footpaths to what they are supposed to be for – Pedestrians???

    Why should we have to walk around all this rubbish? In a lot of cases the seats take up the verandah space, which means if it rains, cafe patrons stay dry – and pedestrians get wet….

    Not all of us in this city hang out at cafes!

    • peat

      Graeme, the footpaths have become rentable space for the Council. maybe it helps keep the rates down…

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