Tun­nel vi­sion put to coun­cil

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN AN­THONY

Plans to turn a moth­balled Auck­land bomb shel­ter into a ‘‘sub­ter­ranean city’’, com­plete with cy­cle­way and glow­worm at­trac­tion is gain­ing mo­men­tum.

Be­neath Al­bert Park in Auck­land’s CBD lie 3.5 kilo­me­tres of air raid tun­nels that have been sit­ting idle since they were closed off af­ter World War II.

Bill Reid, who’s worked on re­open­ing the tun­nels for the past 30 years, and his busi­ness part­ner Nick An­dreef, will present a pro­posal to build a ‘‘sub­ter­ranean city’’ to Auck­land Coun­cil’s city cen­tre ad­vi­sory board on Wed­nes­day.

The tun­nels were built to house up to 22,000 peo­ple in case Auck­land was bombed dur­ing the war.

The main tun­nel, run­ning from Vic­to­ria St East in the CBD to Beach Rd in Parnell, and lined with tim­ber beams, is 4.4 me­tres wide and 3m tall.

Reid pro­poses con­vert­ing this tun­nel into a pedes­trian and cy­cle­way link be­tween the city, Univer­sity of Auck­land and Parnell with two sets of el­e­va­tors con­nect­ing the tun­nel to Princess St and Sy­monds St.

The tun­nel, es­ti­mated to cost up to $19 mil­lion, would ef­fec­tively be an ex­ten­sion of the con­course to Aotea Sta­tion, be­ing built as part of the City Rail Link. It was es­ti­mated up to 3500 peo­ple would com­mute through the tun­nel each day.

As well as the com­muter tun- nel the ‘‘sub­ter­ranean city’’ would in­clude a war mu­seum and memo­rial to the 28th Maori bat­tal­ion.

Wine and cheese caves have even been in­cluded in the pro­posal, with in­ter­est al­ready shown from winer­ies, Reid said.

Fi­nally a ‘‘glow­worm en­counter’’ has been pro­posed, de­liv­er­ing a Wait­omo Caves-style ex­pe­ri­ence.

In De­cem­ber Bill Reid met with coun­cil’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment agency Auck­land Tourism, Events and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (Ateed) about the pro­posal.

At the time Ateed spokesman Steve Ar­mitage said open­ing the tun­nels was an in­ter­est­ing con­cept, how­ever more work was needed to de­velop the idea.

‘‘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.


There are 3.5 kilo­me­tres of tun­nels un­der Al­bert Park. Bill Reid

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