It's big and bold, this coat hanger-shaped canvas for our biggest city's new attraction.

So far, the job to turn Auckland Harbour Bridge into a giant light display is about two-thirds of the way through. Workers scattered over the 58-year-old transport link's steel girders and gangways and dangling below the highway that bears about 150,000 vehicles a day, are making good progress on installing 90,000 LED lights and 200 floodlights.

On January 27, the Saturday of Auckland's Anniversary long weekend, that work will come to life when the switch is flicked on the $10 million Vector-Auckland Council project.

It will begin at 9pm with a six minute specially-composed opening show sequence featuring original music, which can be synched via smartphone or radio, and spectacular lighting effects.

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The show will repeat every half hour until midnight and be streamed online at vector.co.nz/lights

The first night will be whiz-bang, but the long term plan is to use the lights to celebrate events through the year, and subtly frame the bridge's architecture outside those times.

Vector's Paul Cannin is managing the project to install colourful lights on Auckland's Harbour Bridge. Photo / Cherie Howie
Vector's Paul Cannin is managing the project to install colourful lights on Auckland's Harbour Bridge. Photo / Cherie Howie

Vector strategic programme manager Paul Cannin told the Weekend Herald every single light could be controlled.

"We have three main elements to the lights. There's a linear strip, which is a continual strip that goes along the road deck and up over the arch, so that highlights the shape of the bridge on both sides, and then we have these individual dots that are on the diagonal and vertical members of the bridge.

"And we have the floodlights underneath the bridge which illuminate all the structures, so of those three elements there's in total 90,000 individual pixels, or groups we can control."

That's good news for those who want to see something special on one of the city's most recognisable structures.

"I don't want to give anything away before the launch but there's lots of different ways you can do it. It's not just a lights show ... there are ways you can use the structure of the bridge and the shapes and geometry of the bridge to come up with some cool effects ... it's the biggest canvas in Auckland, isn't it?"

The project is part of a 10-year energy efficiency partnership, with Vector paying most of the costs and the council funding digital programming of the lights for special events.

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Artist's impression of the Harbour Bridge once the lights are installed. Photo / Supplied
Artist's impression of the Harbour Bridge once the lights are installed. Photo / Supplied

The bridge is believed to be the first major bridge in the world to have all its lighting powered entirely by solar power, which will be generated from 630 panels installed on top of North Wharf, in Wynyard Quarter, and stored in a Tesla Powerpack battery farm the size of a shipping container.

Vector network programme delivery head Minoru Frederiksens said the lights were a way of sharing new technologies that would one day be much more common, and celebrating sustainability.

"It's a living peek into the future ... and a whole story about sustainability, so you can see how something which uses highly efficient LEDs can still come up with something absolutely spectacular."