Consumer Watch: Walk away from parking rip-offs

By Susan Edmunds

Don't let overpriced parking fees ruin your shopping trip or night out in the central city

Businesswoman Pippa Lekner thinks car park buildings are too expensive. Photo / Doug Sherring
Businesswoman Pippa Lekner thinks car park buildings are too expensive. Photo / Doug Sherring

Walking a few extra blocks can save you a lot of money on parking in Auckland's central city, a Herald on Sunday survey has revealed.

We compared the prices of about 100 Auckland city carpark buildings, as well as on-road pay-and-display parking.

Our survey showed some large differences. For two hours' shopping, you could pay $1 at Auckland Transport's open-air pay-and-display carpark at the end of Sale St during the week.

But you could be charged more than $30 for the same amount of time if you parked in the Wilson-owned carpark in the SAP Tower on Wyndham St.

At night, SkyCity charges $15 for the first hour, then $5.50 for each extra hour up to a maximum of $40.

Just a couple of blocks away, you could park in the Tournament-owned City Works Depot carpark from 6pm until 4am for $5.

At the weekend, flat-rate discounts were available from many carpark buildings for less than $10, but SkyCity still charges up to its $40 maximum.

Steve Evans, of Wilson Parking, said Auckland's parking rates were heavily influenced by events.

"Pricing can be quite dynamic and realistically it's dependent on where people are going. There are literally hundreds of options, and if you include on-street, thousands.

"There's a very wide range of products and pricing depending on what a person is looking for."

If you're going to a concert at Vector Arena, it's worth looking for event rates. Parking can be hard to find and the Arena Car Park at Vector offers a $20 rate when an event is on. The Britomart Carpark offers a $25 rate for the same events.

If you're headed for the Aotea Centre, it's worth trying for a spot in the Greys Ave carpark opposite the Council civic building.

It's not available on weekdays but only costs $6 for unlimited parking at night and weekends, making it one of the cheaper options and close to the Town Hall, Aotea Centre and Queen St.

Another trick is to use the Britomart valet drop-off on Gore St. Seven days a week, it's $15 for four hours and $5 for each additional hour.

Businesswoman Pippa Lekner had to drive into the city for up to six meetings a week. She said on-street pay-and-display parking was a fair price but carpark building costs were over the top. "Some of them are ridiculous — $4 an hour for on-street parking is perfectly reasonable but $20 is a rip-off. I feel very sorry for people who drive into a building then realise what they'll have to pay."

Pay-and-display parking varies in cost around the city. In the centre of town it is $4 for the first two hours during the week and then $8 an hour after that on weekdays. At night and weekends it's $2.

In streets a little further out it's $3 an hour for the first two hours, then $6 an hour thereafter. At weekends it's $1 an hour.

Around Nelson St, Fanshawe St, Halsey St and the bottom of Parnell Rise, parking is $2 an hour on weekdays and $1 an hour on Saturdays.

Alex Swney, of Heart of the City, said few international cities offered such cheap on-street rates. "It's central city real estate."

He said if occupancy rates exceeded 30 per cent the council would tweak the cost of its parking. Carpark buildings were more expensive because they targeted monthly parking, he said.

"They don't have much short-term stock so they price it more expensively."

He said the average stay for a CBD shopper was 1.8 hours.

- Herald on Sunday

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