Auckland's Golden Mile will take on a new glow at night when 84 native nikau and exotic liquid amber trees are lit up in the coming months.
The $880,000 project is being carried out by the Heart of the City business group to bring vibrancy to Queen St and link up with the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Sky Tower, the Ferry Building and other heritage buildings that shine at night.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck says the project is a real opportunity for the city to be thinking more about the night-time economy, with longer shopping hours and more going on in the CBD.
"One in eight people in London are employed at night and the Sydney night-time economy is worth more than the daytime economy," she says.
It will be a big improvement, she says, from the Queen St she encountered at night when she began her role in 2015.
"It seemed quite dark to me and I thought something is missing here."
Work has started on installing large halogen lights at the base of 50 liquid ambers and replacing existing lights with halogens at the base of 34 nikau between Customs and Victoria sts, where the Sky Tower comes into view.
Like this year's project to light up the harbour bridge, the lights are capable of being programmed to create different colours to celebrate events like New Year's Eve and Auckland Pride Festival.
Heart of the City has released images showing a subtle wash of green and red on each tree at Christmas and the nikau bathed in blue to mark Matariki.
The project is due to be launched in late September or October, possibly during Art Week or Diwali, which symbolises the triumph of light over darkness.
Energy company Vector, which led the $10 million Vector Lights project to light the harbour bridge, is providing expertise and technology for the Queen St project.
This includes connections to the server that controls the lights on the bridge, meaning the Queen St lights can run on their own or be co-ordinated with the bridge lights, a spokesman said.
Vector is also providing about $200,000 and in-kind support over 10 years.
"We see it as a brilliant complement to Vector Lights," the spokesman said.
Mayor Phil Goff said the lights would be a fantastic addition to Queen St at night and create a great ambiance in the city.
"This is a way in which the corporate sector can make Auckland a better place while not placing the burden on ratepayers," he said.
The mayor said the council would take ownership of the lights, which will be maintained by Auckland Transport.