Advocate calls to reopen tunnels
Auckland’s next big tourist attrac- tion might be stagnating under the city at this very moment.
Beneath Albert Park in the Auckland CBD 3.5 kilometres of air raid tunnels have been sitting unused since they were closed off after World War II.
Bill Reid, 77, is campaigning for them to be reopened and used as a tourist attraction with separate tunnels for glow worms, black water rafting, a Maori Battalion museum and a chapel.
The tunnels, which were built in 1942, could also provide a direct link for walkers and cyclists between Victoria St in the central city and Parnell.
The tunnels were built to house up to 22,000 people in case Auckland was bombed during the war.
In December 2016 Reid met with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and has further meetings scheduled in the coming weeks.
ATEED’s spokesman Steve Armitage said opening the tunnels was an interesting con- cept.
However he said the idea was very much in its infancy and more work would need to be done to assess its feasibility.
‘‘At face value the idea aligns with the goal of developing new attractions that encourage visitors to our region to stay longer and spend more.’’
Armitage said ATEED would not be responsible for funding the tunnels.
With the upcoming meetings Reid was hopeful 2017 would be the year the tunnels finally reopen.
‘‘These tunnels are an absolute asset to Auckland,’’ Reid said.
Reid said in 2013 contractors McConnell Dowell estimated it would cost $6 million for the main tunnel to be cleared.
Adjusting for inflation Reid estimates it would now cost $8m to set up a construction site, remove 8.5 million red clay blocks, line the tunnel, set up lighting and ventilation and to seal the floor.
‘‘It only took 8 months with 114 men to build the original tunnels,’’ he said.
Reid said he didn’t know why it had taken so long to reopen them.
‘‘I don’t know why it hasn’t happened, it should happen and it will happen.’’
And if it doesn’t happen this year, or even in Reid’s lifetime, then he said his 35-year-old son William will carry his mission on.