Friday, August 12, 2011

Timespanner visits the Wynyard Quarter

Wynyard Quarter, on one of Auckland's 20th century reclamations, was officially opened to the public on 6 August this year. I was at a meeting in Avondale that day so couldn't go -- but I knew I'd get a bit of a chance later on. Well, that chance was today.

First thing you see from the end of Quay Street (it's advertised as a five minute walk from Britomart. Expect it to be 10 minutes if no boats want to get out to sea from the marinas) is this striped pattern on the pavement. At least, it helps you not to get lost.

Heading towards Te Wero, Auckland's artificial island linking the Viaduct with Wynyard Quarter and the first of two bridges. No sign of the spectacular designs promoted on pages like this one -- but then again, the old Auckland City Council reckoned it would take until 2016 to do that design. This one may have been the more quickly designed one.

"Te Wero
220 Quay St, Auckland central
This is a purpose built island which offers a prime location for events space. It is one of the best vantage points for on-water events. It features the heritage lifting bridge and a number of carvings that were installed as part of the America's Cup challenge. Includes marquee anchors installed for large events. Access is via Eastern Viaduct car park. There is no seating or toilets. This is a venue to come and soak up the Viaduct Harbour atmosphere." From old Council site.  

"Te Wero" is the challenge visitors in a Maori welcome ceremony receive when visiting a marae.

On to the main bridge linking Te Wero with Wynyard Quarter.

Brief stop to photograph a beautiful craft. (Update: she's the 1925 gaff ketch Breum. More info here.)

When visiting the Wynyard Quarter and using what is termed the Wynyard Crossing -- if the siren sounds and the lights flash, beedle off it quick smart. Because ... it does this:

Some today were a bit slow getting off it. Luckily for them, they didn't end up clinging for dear life to each end.

Wynyard Quarter is still a work-in-progress, despite being opened last weekend. Which surprised me. The blurb I'd received and seen basically implied "It's all done! Yay us!!" Well, no, not quite. This bloke's still hard at work on finishing touches, for one.

As is this bloke. These are seats, he told me, which slide around on rails and wheels, and the ends are hinged so they fold up.

And the information kiosk ... well, I think that's all done, but by the looks of things, it doesn't appear to be. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit of a cranky grouch through dodgy sleep patterns just lately, but -- is this really the impression we want to give overseas visitors? A kiosk made out of shipping containers stacked up?

This is certainly the first ATM I've seen sticking out of the side of a shipping container.

I was looking for the public artworks which promotion papers on the development said were around. This seems to be one of them: "Silt Line", by Rachel Shearer and Hillary Taylor. The patterns represent, according to the "Public Art in the Wynyard Quarter" card I picked up from beside the shipping containers "graphic representations of the clusters of sounds making up the sound installation The Flooded Mirror, high and low frequencies and revealing the cycles of the tide."

Not terribly awed, I moved on. I couldn't locate "The Flooded Mirror" until an hour later when I left to go back to the city. Some weird noises nearby was probably that. The frequencies made me want to move away from them, so it was good I was doing just that.

This is "Sounds of the Sea", by a duo of artists named Company from Finland/Korea.

These repeat along the North Wharf.

I think these are part of it, but -- I'm not sure.

This is Michio Ihara's "Wind Tree". It has had a chequered past. It was installed in Queen Elizabeth Square at the bottom of Queen Street in 1977, removed in 2002, put in storage, rumoured to be destined for Western Springs, and has now ended up here.

But beyond Wind Tree further east is this -- a playground full of cool stuff.

Only thing is -- as a parent said today, while watching her kids: there's no fence, and the playground is set in a place surrounded by roads which moving traffic still uses. Not really the safest place to put a kiddies' playground, I'd have thought.

Long rocks lying on artificial turf. I have no idea why.

But hey -- at least there's trams.

I paid my $10 adult ticket (which allows you to go around the 15 minute small loop all day if you wanted to. Which I didn't) and did try part of the route. But -- it was depressing. After the delights of Christchurch's tram loop in 2007, this was just sad. Next to no views, except of light industrial buildings, parked cars, some boats in a small harbour, a bus depot, then back down to start all over again. The poor old heritage trams look terribly out of place, here.

The tram barn used by the service, though, has been given a fitting livery. The photo on the rear facing Pakenham Street is from Graham Stewart.

This is where the line stretches into the distance.

I deliberately took this shot to show just what passengers look at while passing on through -- the back end of parked cars on part of the route. On the other side, building construction sites, and carparks.

Is it going to get better before the Council decide to can the whole thing? I don't know.

There are some pretty bits to the new development, though.

Heading back citywards, I thought I'd give the experience 5/10 for a good attempt, anyway. Hopefully, if it's still going in the summer, things will be fixed up, there'll actually be heritage plaques that are visible, and perhaps the trams will have fitted in more.

After all, we're the City of Sails and of the Sea. Hopefully, more of that will have come through by then.


  1. Great Post! I really enjoyed this trip of yours wish I had been there. Heartening to see Wind Tree back up. The bridge was cool and so was the playground. Yes it should be fenced. Perhaps they could commission a cool looking fence around it for the kids to be safe and it still to look great. $10 is a lot of money to pay for a 15 minute trip of light industrial buildings. I was figuring the rocks on the green were to depict the volcanic origins of Auckland as in rocks on Grass which we see in the Auckland Volcanoes. Just loved this post! Thanks for sharing

  2. Lisa I love this post - I can't wait to take the kids down there to see it - maybe week day would be better than weekend? Less busy? My 6 yr old train loving son will love the trams! Are we keeping them? I do hope so.
    Your post is great!

  3. Thanks, Liz.

    Hi Catherine,
    Thanks. Yes, week days might be better than weekends, but either way give it a shot! The trams are definitely the highlight -- I do hope we're keeping them, too.

  4. Great photos. I think it will come together in time. It was obviously opened early for that football match. The $10 tram fare is absurd. If the scenery was great, you may want to go around again, but really, who would? Perhaps it is opportunism for those who want the novelty of it and the price will drop later to something reasonable. The surface of the lifting bridge doesn't look smooth, but if it was, how tempting it would be ride the bridge up and slide down. Hmm, might just be fun to ride it up anyway.

  5. Heh. Riding the sliding bridges of Godzone -- a new Aussie sport? ;-)

    The surface of the bridge was coarse, a non-slip surface for safety. You'd be a very sore Andrew if you tried it out ...

  6. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
    Thanx for the great "tiki tour" - seems there's a fair way to go yet. I shall remain vicariously disappointed! LOL