Christchurch catching up

rebuildgraphicCatching up is hard to do, but Christchurch appears to have managed it and then some.

Four years after the earthquakes The Press has found many underlying indicators returning to normal and others more typical of a rebuilding city.

There are no prizes for guessing that the construction industry has produced a huge amount of activity in the city. Compared to 2010, dwelling consents have quadrupled in Christchurch and, according to cement producers Holcim, twice as much cement has been sold.

Car imports coming over the Lyttelton wharfs have increased by about 15,000 in a 2010-2014 comparison and working-age people dependent on benefits have decreased in Christchurch by about 8077.

Container traffic at Lyttelton Port of Christchurch in the 2014 financial year was about 100,000 containers higher than in 2010.

The median household income was about $48,000 in 2010 and has risen to an inflation- adjusted figure of more than $54,000 in 2014. While Christchurch seems to be a bit richer than in 2010, it has lost about 7000 people, according to the 2006 and 2013 censuses.

A smaller population is not reflected in flows at the Bromley Treatment Plant, however. In the year before the first earthquake the current daily flow was 155,544 cubic metres a day and in 2014 it had gone up to 215,280m3/day. The 40 per cent increase in flow was mainly because of groundwater getting into the system through cracked pipes, a council spokeswoman said.

Electricity supplied has yet to return to 2010 levels and Orion New Zealand has about 2000 fewer customers.

Orion spokesman Stephen Godfrey said power usage on the Orion network fell 10 per cent after the February 2011 earthquake but energy usage had recently begun to recover as homes were rebuilt and the city grew. “However, it may be [several] years before power usage returns to 2010 levels. Power usage throughout the country has been flat in recent years as energy efficiency in homes and businesses improves.”

The number of diesel- powered machines in Christchurch has not translated into a big increase in bulk fuel supplies coming into Christchurch and the tonnage in 2014 has not increased much over the 2010 figure.

Christchurch Airport has yet to achieve the level of activity it had in 2010, with passenger numbers and aircraft movements down on 2010.


  • The Press
  • Martin Van Beynen

Christchurch pips Auckland for cranes

SCCZEN_A_271113NZHGBCRANE3_620x310Major centres are sprouting a growing crane population, with 76 cranes now on big sites.

The Rider Levett Crane Index shows Christchurch is the country’s crane capital, with 31 of the giants, followed by Auckland with 26, Hamilton with seven, Wellington with six, four in Queenstown and one each in Dunedin and Tauranga.

Chris Haines, Auckland director of consultants Rider Levett Bucknall, said national crane numbers rose 7 per cent during the past six months.

“The Four Avenues area of Christchurch has recorded a 41 per cent increase in the number of cranes counted on its city skyline in the past six months. Twenty-one cranes have been removed or dismantled as projects or parts of larger projects near completion but 30 new cranes are now onsite, making Christchurch the NZ crane capital,” Haines said.

Cranes are on the sites of the Justice Precinct, Cashel Square, Awley development and many are in the reconstruction zone in Gloucester St, Cambridge Tce and Hereford St.

Work has also started at the Southern Cross Hospital and Christ’s College, according to Haines.

In Auckland, the crane population rose 4 per cent in the past six months, including at Metlifecare’s The Poynton between Takapuna and Milford and an additional crane on the University of Auckland’s science centre project on Symonds St. Cranes are on apartment blocks rising in Howe St, Ponsonby, Eden Tce, and Exmouth St.

Queenstown has seen a big increase in the number of cranes with three new ones erected, all for commercial projects – one in Shotover St and two in Frankton. A single crane had been erected at the Shotover Primary School, Haines said.

“Wellington has remained steady with six cranes, equal to the previous count. For the residential sector there has been a crane removed at each of Rugby St, Cable St and Clyde Quay and the continuation of Taranaki St, leaving just one crane for the residential sector.

“Civil maintain two cranes with the continuation of Buckle St tunnel and the commercial sector has one crane each for commencements at Wigan St, The Terrace and Waterloo Quay.”


  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Greg Bowker

New wharf for Lyttelton

getimage (1)Construction of Lyttelton’s new wharf has begun with a daylong concrete pour involving 75 trucks…

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Faster trip to airport

SCCZEN_A_080313NZHDPTRAFFIC03_620x310Traffic will gain clearer runs to and from Auckland Airport from a $140 million accelerated project to turn George Bolt Memorial Drive into a full motorway.

The Transport Agency hopes to start the project in the New Year and complete it in early 2017.

It should be ready at about the same time as the $1.4 billion Waterview connection starts giving drivers faster trips to the airport from downtown Auckland via the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways.

The agency last night disclosed a plan to dig a trench to carry airport traffic under busy Kirkbride Rd in Mangere, and to provide slip lanes to turn the dangerous intersection with George Bolt Memorial Drive into a full motorway interchange.

That will do away with traffic queuing at lights there, improving the reliability of trip times to and from the airport and reducing risks of rear-end crashes.

There have been four fatal crashes between the Southwestern Motorway and Kirkbride Rd since 2004, including one on the intersection, and eight which have caused serious injuries.

The project is part of an $815 million package of accelerated Auckland motorway upgrades announced by the Government in May’s Budget, to be part-funded from a $375 million loan.

Daily vehicle trips to and from the airport precinct are predicted to more than double to 140,000 by 2044.

interchangenewThe plan will also close the George Bolt-Montgomerie Rd intersection further south, meaning trucks going to a rapidly growing industrial park will have to turn off at a big roundabout to Landing Drive, closer to the airport.

But Transport Agency highway manager Brett Gliddon said the airport company had built the roundabout for that purpose and to leave an uninterrupted motorway north of that point.

The agency is also considering closing a motorway exit to Bader Drive further north, causing concern to Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chairwoman Lydia Sosene about the effect on local streets if traffic has to find alternative routes.

She said the community had fought hard for the exit to western Mangere.

Mr Gliddon said a decision about the exit had yet to be made.

The agency wanted to avoid conflicts between traffic accelerating up the future slip lane from Kirkbride Rd, and vehicles cutting across them to the exit.

A possibility was to add an auxiliary lane to what would otherwise be a four-lane motorway running about 4km from Landing Drive to State Highway 20.

Mr Gliddon said disruption to traffic during construction should be minimised by digging the trench slightly west of the existing George Bolt Memorial Drive, while keeping Kirkbride Rd open.

Although there are still no plans to extend the Onehunga railway line to the airport, Mr Gliddon said the motorway would leave room for such a link.


  • NZ Herald
  • Mathew Dearnaley
  • Photo: Dean Purcell

Auckland – $10 Billion do-up

CBDprojectsAuckland is being rebuilt before our eyes, as projects worth at least $10 billion-plus rise across the city.

In one of its biggest transformations, a series of infrastructure, education, roading, commercial, retail, housing and prison projects are rising or planned; much of which is simply catch-up after the global financial crisis.

But economic growth, Auckland’s fast expansion, a critical shortage of residential accommodation, desperate need for big new housing estates, the development of entire new town centres to meet demands, expansion of the workforce, rising population, requirements for better university and school buildings, consumer demand for bigger and better supermarkets, and extending our roading network are just some of the drivers.

The biggest project now on is the $1.5 billion -$2.5 billion Long Bay housing estate and town centre.

Yet Todd Property has only just begun and it will be many years before this vast, controversial new suburb on rolling grassland above the regional park is finished.

The $1.4 billion Waterview twin tunnels motorway job is the second biggest now on but the $2.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) and a $2.4 billion job at Auckland International Airport will top the other jobs.

Property purchases have been made to secure the CRL route but construction is yet to start, while at the airport planning is well advanced for its big transformation.

A string of projects are in the $1 billion league: the new $1 billion Westgate town centre is now well under way by the privately owned NZ Retail Property Group; the University of Auckland’s $1 billion spend planned over a decade is also well advanced; the $1 billion Wynyard Quarter CBD waterfront urban renewal, which will see hundreds of new apartments, a six-star hotel, new transport links, offices, shops and cafes; and the $1 billion Britomart transformation, which is yet to see a big new group of office blocks or a new hotel, all on the drawing board.

After a lull of some years, apartment building is again popular, and private developer Robert Holden, a former Bayleys real estate agent, is one of the busiest with four big jobs including the new Urba now rising by the motorway in Freemans Bay.

Construction work ground almost to a halt last decade when a number of developers folded, taking many finance companies with them.

Now, demand has risen, money is easier to get and tower cranes dot the skyline. The work is not being funded by mum and dad investors, buying bonds in mezzanine finance companies. Much of this work is backed by our major trading banks, extremely keen to lend to businesses with strong balance sheets, like giant $1.7 billion-plus Precinct Properties, which is required to be transparent about its accounting because it is NZX-listed.

Banks are also solidly backing Ryman Healthcare which has a $710 million Auckland spend-up planned after buying many hectares of land across the city.

But the taxpayer is also footing the bill: the Government is a huge player, pouring money into the transport network and other infrastructure and educational work.

To see a city change before your eyes, don’t blink. Watch this space.


  • Anne Gibson
  • The Herald

First for arts precinct

10537495The first new development in the performing arts precinct could soon be under way…

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Alice breaks into daylight!

11_93Q4117_620x310The longest road tunnel in New Zealand is one step closer to completion after Alice the boring machine broke into daylight in Auckland this afternoon.

The milestone marks the end of Alice’s 10-month long, 2.4km underground journey from Owairaka to Waterview.

It also marks the completion of the first of the twin tunnels that will connect Auckland’s southwestern and northwestern motorways as part of the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) Waterview Connection project.

The tunnel bored by Alice is the 10th largest in diameter in the world, and the longest road tunnel in New Zealand.

Once opened in early 2017, it will carry three lanes of southbound traffic up to 40m below Avondale and Waterview in west Auckland.

The tunnel – part of a 5km, six-lane motorway link from the Great North Rd interchange at Waterview to Maioro St in Mt Roskill – is a key part of the long-awaited Western Ring Route.

NZTA Auckland highways manager Brett Gliddon said the tunnel’s completion was a significant milestone for the $1.4 billion project.

“This is a fantastic achievement.”

Mr Gliddon said the breakthrough was completed safely and ahead of schedule.

“It is a huge engineering feat for New Zealand, one that is attracting worldwide attention.”

Alice will now be turned around to bore the northbound tunnel. However, turning around the 90m-long, 3100 tonne machine and reconnecting its cutting head and three trailing gantries was not expected to be completed until early next year, when tunnelling on the second tunnel could commence.

The machine’s second run, from Waterview to Owairaka, was expected to be completed in about October next year.

About a year of work would then be needed to complete the mechanical and electrical fit-out of the tunnels, including completing ventilation buildings at both ends and constructing 16 cross-passages to connect the tunnels.

The entire project – which also involves building surface connections to the existing motorways, 9km of new cycleways, new community amenities such as walkways, playgrounds and skateparks, and planting some 150,000 trees and shrubs – was due to be completed in early 2017.

The Waterview Connection was one of five projects to complete the Western Ring Route as an alternative to State Highway 1 through central Auckland and across the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

It has been prioritised by the Government as one of its roads of national significance.


  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: NZTA
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