Ban would make the top of Mt Eden a more attractive place for everyone, and we’d all still be able to get there.

If I were a bit doddery on my feet, or wheelchair-bound, I suspect I'd be delighted to be able to totter around the summit of Maungawhau/Mt Eden at my own pace without the worry of a foreign driver backing his hire car into me.

But critics of the proposal to ban private cars from the upper parts of this, and possibly other, Auckland volcanic tourist spots have jumped, erroneously, to the conclusion that the ban will effectively bar access for the halt and the lame and the elderly as well, unless they can somehow drag themselves up the slopes under their own steam.

But that's nonsense. No one, to my knowledge, has ever come up with such a Presbyterian, sackcloth and ashes approach. Barring private cars is not an anti-people move. Just the opposite.

A detailed proposal will be presented to the April meeting of the Maunga Authority, but I'm sure it will follow the pattern of earlier versions and any ban on cars will be offset by some sort of shuttlebus service for those who can't make the summit by themselves - something along the same lines as the mini-bus shuttle run by Ngati Whatua on behalf of Auckland Council that was introduced in 2011 after the bus ban was introduced. Initially, two 14-seater, $29,000 electric shuttle buses were purchased to augment an existing 12-seater van service.


The shuttles had to be withdrawn after a year when the Land Transport Safety Authority reversed its original decision that they were safe. The council says it could find no alternative use for them. They sold on Trade Me last week for $5200 each. The 12-seater is still available for visitors. In August, 308 people used it, September, 321 and October, 575.

A long-time advocate of the vehicle ban, Kit Howden, who chairs the volunteer group Friends of Maungawhau, says one possibility would be to charge able-bodied tourists who don't want to walk for their ride to the summit.

This would help cover the cost of providing free rides for the disabled.

Last Sunday was the annual Love Your Mountain Day on Maungawhau. Currently, it's the one day of the year when all vehicles are banned. It's a day, says Mr Howden, when you can hear the tui.

And that sums up the key reason for the ban. In an increasingly intensified city, the last thing you want in these important green lungs within the urban environment is a constant stream of combustion engines.

A passive recreation area is a place where people can go to escape the noise and fumes and dangers of urban living, and should not replicate the urban environment you are trying to escape.

It's frustrating to hear the same red herrings that were dragged up by the tourist bus lobby in a vain bid to kill the 2011 bus ban. They, in turn, were repeating the mantras lazy car users had been throwing up each time the issue was raised.

The Mt Eden 1986 management plan called for a ban on buses to help protect the historic Maori earthworks. Nothing happened.

In 2006, Auckland City under Mayor Dick Hubbard tried again, resolving to ban vehicular access to the summit. But this was conditional on creating a "sustainable, low-impact transport system" for the elderly, disabled and the lazy.

Unfortunately, that's where the proposal effectively died. Instead of a cheap "sustainable" electric bus, council officials came up with proposals for a $3.17 million rubber-wheeled electric train and/or a four-person electronically guided pod system costing $14.9 million. There was never going to be money for such frivolities.

The only part of the Hubbard plan that did see the light of day was the upgrading of the historic tea kiosk. Upgraded to a high standard, it has since remained unused.

But that could finally change. The recent meeting of the Maunga Authority called for expressions of interest in running the place as visitor tea rooms. Also in the pipeline is a long-needed visitor information facility.

Together, they will make the perfect starting point for the 150m climb to the summit.

It's hardly an ascent of Everest proportions. But will give time enough, free from the need to avoid passing cars, to appreciate that this maunga is not only a view platform, but a site of great heritage value.