Happy birthday for revamped wharf area

By Wayne Thompson

Aucklander Vinnie Sayegh (left) showed Wynyard Quarter to San Francisco friend Christian Brown, who liked the mix of Maori and modern in the architecture. Photo / Dean Purcell
Aucklander Vinnie Sayegh (left) showed Wynyard Quarter to San Francisco friend Christian Brown, who liked the mix of Maori and modern in the architecture. Photo / Dean Purcell

A former Auckland waterfront industrial area has survived its first year as a venue for dining, strolling, sightseeing and family relaxation.

Opening just in time to catch the Rugby World Cup crowds, the Wynyard Quarter got off to a good start.

Waterfront Auckland says that despite the challenge to keep that level of interest, the quarter has found its feet as a public place, sharing a working wharf for fishing boats, ferries and superyacht refits.

The result of a $120 million revamp has been inspected and supported by many Aucklanders, says a UMR survey of 1500 people, commissioned by the Auckland Council waterfront redevelopment arm.

Wynyard Quarter is the first stage of a 20-year plan to turn 18.5ha between Viaduct Harbour and Westhaven Marina into an area for business and living.

In the survey, 69 per cent of visitors approved the area's high-quality urban design and 87 per cent felt it provided good open space.

Of residents from the central city and the western bays, 77 per cent strongly supported revamping the central waterfront, as did 56 per cent of other Aucklanders.

Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell said the support was encouraging for new projects in the pipeline for the superyacht industry, the landscaping of Daldy and Halsey Streets and a cycleway link with the Harbour Bridge.

Visitor figures for the year were unavailable.

But Mr Dalzell said the study showed the public were "happily engaging" and he was confident appreciation would grow as more improvements were made.

Of those surveyed, 73 per cent of local residents, 56 per cent of visitors to the area and 77 per cent of other Aucklanders had been to Wynyard Quarter five or more times in the last year.

But 39 per cent of those who said they had not been said they had "no reason to go".

A further 18 per cent said they did not go into the city much, 15 per cent said parking was too difficult or expensive, 13 per cent said it was too much effort getting there, and 12 per cent said they did not know about the quarter.

Yesterday, the Herald asked visitors at the Wynyard Quarter what they thought.

Aucklander Vinnie Sayegh was showing it off to his friend, Christian Brown, of San Francisco.

"As a cyclist, I like its cycle-friendly wide pathway.

"They have done a good job in making it an amazing place for people."

Mr Brown said he was impressed with the cleanliness of the harbourside and the fusion of Maori and modern culture in the architecture.

Jenny Chang, of Auckland, had visited three times for events during the year and was on her way to a fashion show.

"It's much better now people can come to it and it's not as commercial as some places overseas.

"I think it has its own character."

Michele Clemens, of Pokeno, had visited six times.

"Usually, it's for business - meeting clients or going to a conference."

Angie Butler, of Waiheke Island, walks through the area on her daily commute to her office.

"I think it's great but it feels a little disjointed from the Viaduct Bridge and doesn't always draw the crowds all the way down here.

"On a sunny weekend that park is fantastic and full of families.

"But during the week, I'd stop in more often if there were more people here.

"When the ASB headquarters building opens, you will see lots more."

Richard Simms, who has been head chef at the Jack Tar on North Wharf for five months, was taking a breather outside the kitchen door.

"It's humming," he said, appreciating the view of the harbour after his last job in Brisbane.

Events were bringing the people into the area.

Last Sunday, which was Father's Day, 280 customers came for breakfast and more than 500 for lunch.

- NZ Herald

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