A new, jazzed-up look for downtown Auckland will not be finished in time for the America's Cup.

More than 18 months of digging up Quay St, chopping and changing barriers and orange cones is set to continue past the America's Cup, although the footpath on the city side will be finished for pedestrians.

Te Wānanga, the new downtown public space in the ferry basin between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf, is set to open in February but the plantings, furniture and pavings will come later.

This delay was flagged by council's infrastructure director Barry Potter in June last year. He also said a new footbridge connecting the Viaduct with Wynyard Quarter and a new pedestrian plaza in front of Britomart station would not be ready for the cup.


The good news is the Britomart plaza is due for completion in December, providing an attractive connection from Queen St to the waterfront. The footbridge has been scrapped indefinitely.

The Covid-19 lockdown and difficulties rebuilding the seawall along Quay St have also put work back on new ferry berths alongside Queens Wharf back to April.

The $100 million-plus Downtown Programme, which incorporates six significant projects including new ferry berths, seismic strengthening of the Quay St seawall, Quay St upgrade and a bus interchange at Lower Albert St, is about 60 per cent complete.

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The long-running roadworks between Customs St and Wyndham St on Albert St with wider pavements, bus lanes and new trees brought about from building tunnels for the $4.4 billion City Rail Link are also due to be finished in December.

The council has also been accused of messing up Queen St by taking out a bus lane and replacing it with beige paint, plastic sticks, concrete dividers and neon pink strips of paint on temporary bus platforms to make it more pedestrian friendly.

What started out as temporary measures during lockdown to provide extra space for social distancing has sparked a war of words between council bureaucrats and Heart of the City business association.

The new-look Queen St painted beige with concrete dividers and plastic sticks. Photo / Alex Burton
The new-look Queen St painted beige with concrete dividers and plastic sticks. Photo / Alex Burton

Council's chief of strategy Megan Tyler said the changes were part of a co-design process to "make a very real change for the better". Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said the result was a mess at a time when businesses were struggling to get back on their feet after lockdown.

This week, senior councillor Desley Simpson weighed in by calling on the bureaucrats to get rid of the works, saying they were not creating a positive environment for Queen St.


Planning committee chairman Chris Darby said delays caused by Covid-19 and the financial impact of the council's "emergency budget" had been challenging, but the council and contractors are working hard to transform the city centre to enjoy this summer.

Queen St with its beige paint and plastic sticks. Photo / Alex Burton
Queen St with its beige paint and plastic sticks. Photo / Alex Burton

Waitematā and Gulf ward Councillor Pippa Coom said central city businesses and retailers have been severely impacted by the loss of international visitors, workers and students as a result of Covid-19.

"The completion of the new spaces will help attract people back into the city centre and contribute to its recovery," she said.