Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fixing Auckland

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  • recordari, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    If you’re on the waterfront, I can’t really see the point of not being exposed to your major point of interest.

    You could hardly cover the waterfront.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Oooh, that’s not quite how I’d see it, at least potentially. It can be good for street life when private zones bleed into public ones. Perhaps I’ve been a bit brainwashed by the Jane Jacobs school of urban (non)-planning, but a theory is that residents’ eyes on the street make it safe. Porches and so forth can be sociable in an urban neighbourhood.

    I totally get what you're saying. I can picture a bustling quadrant of high-density downtown living, where markets are open late and people dine and drink on their balconies while music plays in the street below.

    That block behind Viaduct Basin is so not like that.

    I think some of the people behind it weighed into the "what to do with Queen's wharf" debate, proposing more of the same. Fuck's sake.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    To fair, I can’t say this is the time of year where al fresco dining is terribly attractive. Anywhere. If you’re on the waterfront, I can’t really see the point of not being exposed to your major point of interest.

    And it's true that the Viaduct Basin establishments suffered a severe crash for their first few winters. The turnover of businesses was pretty high. But I think some businesses there have learned a bit better how to keep trading all year.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben Curran,

    Apparently there is, or was (I'm not sure) quite a strong residents lobby that in the past has jumped all over any application to hold events/markets that sort of thing as soon as they appear, combined with really strict noise control, pretty much kills any street life that tries to take hold.

    Be interesting to hear more. Seems Auckland has been plagued for the last decade by people moving into the city but expecting the ambience of a lifestyle block - and having the resources to get the system to enforce their preferences at the expense of everyone else.

    Rather than the Council forcing local property developers to do their job properly in the first place. Reverse sensitivity ahoy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I can't really see the point of not being exposed to your major point of interest

    For a moment I was convinced you were still talking about the balcony exhibitionist..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yes, the area around the Viaduct is like an industrial area at night. But with worse parking. It's more dead even than what I remember as a small child - after going to the Teps we'd often wander to the Viaduct to watch the fishing boats come in, and there was a hustle and bustle of activity.

    Nowadays when I go there, it's either for lunch or to go drinking, or I'm riding through. If for lunch, there's an obligatory 20 minutes dicking around trying to find a carpark, or just biting the bullet on getting ripped by a high rise parking building. Then there's a few places to eat, which are reasonably well frequented during weekdays.

    If for drinking, a parking building is the only option, because the on street parking has particularly narsty parkos who I've seen holding back on near-expired parking so they can give you a ticket the moment the time is up, and the buildings have night rates. You wander through cold, dark, deserted streets to the Viaduct, which is itself often quite lively.

    If I'm biking, I'm typically heading to Westhaven drive. I'm quite amazed at how dull and sterile everything is for at least a kilometer after the last bars in the Viaduct. It's pretty enough, if you like to look at extremely expensive boats (I do), the apartments are a blank wall of sameness for about 500 meters, and there's just no one around, even on a nice sunny day. Maybe a gaggle of lost tourists wondering what the hell this boulevard leads to. There's nothing whatsoever to see or do until the boating shop district and the beautiful, but also quite sterile, look at the marina along Westhaven Drive.

    No real clue why it is that this residential area is so boring. I guess it's the total absence of anything else to do there. No bars, no shops, no stalls, no parks, just...nothing, except a pretty boulevard.

    Must check out the Wynyard changes...sounds promising.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I suspect there are also a large number of absentee owners in the area. I initially thought rental investors, but higher grade apartments tend to have lower vacancy rates. So it could more likely be exurbanites imposing their will on the city life, as well as lax sound-proofing laws.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Oh yes, and as I type this, I'm sitting near the Welly waterfront on a cool but dry night, waiting for the next Festival flick to start. The Brewery bar nearby is very much alive, even if the waterfront is less so at this time of night. The joys of free wi-fi.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    The street life experience may be on the quiet side ;) but I can say from brief personal experience that it's a really nice place to live, having briefly rented an apartment in Lighter Quay whilst getting the bathroom renovated at home. The walk along the water's edge to the city was a nicer commute than the NW motorway, that's for sure...

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Sacha,

    Or they are living in apartments constructed without double glazing and sound proofing - apartments presumably approved by the same council that wants a vibrant street life...

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ana Simkiss,

    I’m thinking particularly of cities in Spain and Brazil but I am sure there are other examples.

    You do realise that you just mentioned 2 places that have a siesta which is taken seriously and becomes the quiet part of the day and hence the evening is more noisy and less precious for residents to need to wind down so that in itself may explain the differences.10pm in those countries is much like 7pm over here. Very sensible idea, the siesta, in my book. Beats the western "power nap" if you ask this Mexican.:)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Plus I've been in a few of those apartments down there and they don't even have nogs or studs in their walls.$1000,000+ and hollow walls! What's that about?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    When I lived in an apartment in a noisy part of Melbourne, it wasn't very long at all before street noise had no effect on me at all, and actually lulled me to sleep sometimes - the soccer World Cup, and the Grand Prix were especially noisy times, and I'd often roll over at the sound of a huge burnout or a passing crowd of singing drunks, settling deeper into sleep than before. Most nights, several times, one of the restaurants I backed onto would dump a whole wheelie bin full of empty bottles into a large bin, making a noise rather like a devastating car crash. Visitors would leap up, and I'd have to actually think about what it was they were doing, having not noticed the sound at all. Even now, I still find dead silence eerie and unsettling when I'm trying to sleep, and will put on some ambient sound to help me.

    I can't, however, ignore a subwoofer - a pumping regular bass sound, changing every 3 minutes, is still fucking intrusive. I'm not sure why - I guess it's meant to be penetrating, and it's so damned unnatural, really does sound like some heavy object hitting the ground, which I think humans are probably programmed not to ignore. "Don't sleep through stampedes" might be a biological imperative.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Mark,

    While we are (sort of) on the topic of the RWC - it is my possibly futile wish that the general public (fans or otherwise) welcome our overseas visitors and that churlish comments about how poor other teams/countries are or how great the "mighty" ABs are might be kept to a minimum. I am a mildly enthusiastic ABs supporter but the sheer lack of class some of our fans show does make me cringe. Wouldn't it be great to have the overseas visitors hop back on their planes with nothing but good memories?

    Since Dec 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Mark,

    Wouldn't it be great to have the overseas visitors hop back on their planes with nothing but good memories?

    It's a nice thought. I expect most visitors will be on a holiday buzz, and having a good time no matter what happens with the rugby. But they could sure have their buzz crushed by bad experiences with the locals.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Mark,

    I am a mildly enthusiastic ABs supporter but the sheer lack of class some of our fans show does make me cringe.

    It's not quite on the level of European soccer hooliganism, but even then it would only take one public urination to make the headlines.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    apartments constructed without double glazing and sound proofing - apartments presumably approved by the same council that wants a vibrant street life

    That's what I meant by "the Council forcing local property developers to do their job properly", yes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Mark,

    A nice thought AND quite easily achieved too. A huge proportion of the post-match analyses I've sat through in pubs and smoko rooms are just a rehash of whatever the commentators and pundits said on the telly. So if those guys could talk up the skills and positive cultural attributes of the other 19 countries involved, it would go a long way towards creating a less negative atmosphere. But conflict is entertainment is money in the TV business, so I expect they'll be setting up the the opposition as pantomime villains for us to be hating on.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to st ephen,

    so I expect they'll be setting up the the opposition as pantomime villains for us to be hating on.

    Some TV might do that, but the game broadcasts seem very keen to mention the positives of the other teams. It's an infectious attitude - I found myself with a fist in the air at Ozzie scoring their decent try against us the other night, because skilled play is good to watch.

    Bravado and bluster and trash talk can be fun, though. The trick is to know how hard to ride it. Australians love that crap, but you tend to find them quite conciliatory after a hard game, whether they won or lost. That's the point of sport, really. It's meant to be a ritual of violence, by which real violence can be avoided. Pick who you want to rark up. Hint: Don't rark up drunks, or groups seem menacing. Going for a rark should be about trying to make a connection with those people, possibly to socialize in an enjoyable way, rather than as a precursor to some horrible tribal shitfight. If they seem genuinely bummed, buy them a drink, or change the subject. Or back away, taking note of the exits, and potential trap-points (I always do this on the way in to any bar).

    Personally, the group that scares me most is NZers. The quiet sulking is actually quite dangerous. We're notoriously hard to read, and can actually be quite angry whilst appearing not to be. Be aware that someone from another culture will not notice the subtle hints. Furthermore, realize that some people can appear to be a lot angrier than they are, again cultural factors.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    looking for the black cat...

    ... commentators and pundits ... on the telly...

    is it just me, or has Tim Wilson (TV One News USA) been replaced, Max Headroom-style, by algorithm-driven sampled sound bites and facial gestures?
    or is it just the digital delay...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    skilled play is good to watch

    +1

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    I went with wifey and 4 year old on Saturday and thought the place was very cool. Will be going back when it warms up a bit now and then. Probably the sort of place we'd go once a summer I suppose for wander round.

    Like an earlier poster we were there when the bridge broke down, or broke up might be a better description. There were perhaps a thousand or so on each side stuck. I saw hundreds turning and leaving from the CBD end and eventually when it did come down the two masses met in the middle and it narrowed and slowed to a shuffle taking maybe ten minutes to get across.

    I was picturing it in nasty weather, or with drunks, a punchup, or with some sort of accident and wondered how on earth you'd safely get off there in a situation like that. There's nowhere to go but over the rail.

    So as RB said, they'll have to work that out in advance and put something in place to make sure it's all safe.

    I actually thought when the two ends came down that they were going to hold the people on the CBD side for 5 minutes while the WQ side came over and emptied out a bit, but nope, it was a go for it free for all.

    I think the bridge is about 2-3 metres too narrow, especially considering possible future growth, expansion, development, and the potential events that there could be. They almost need another raising bridge closer to the harbour where it narrows for the boats to come through. As an emergency backup as much as anything.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Yamis,

    I think the bridge is about 2-3 metres too narrow, especially considering possible future growth

    Clip-ons to the rescue!
    (when will we learn not to be such cheapskates)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    If it was permanently down it would maybe never be a problem but it is going to go up and down often for obvious reasons and when they have large numbers wanting to get from one side to the other it's going to be an issue every single time simply because of the time it takes to get it up and down.

    Another solution would be to get a whole lot of canoes tied to ropes that we can ferry ourselves over on, or a raft ferry like in Fellowship of the Ring manned by hobbits, or else ropes and make-shift grappling hooks, Bear Grylls style.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Hey Auckland, when we spent a couple of days in your fine town in February last year, my wife totally fell in love with your city, which says you must be doing something right, considering a) that was her first time ever outside China; and b) the circumstances - meeting my grandmother on her deathbed quite literally 5 hours after getting off the plane then returning for her funeral a few days later. In fact, when we sit around plotting our return to NZ in a couple of years time, or at the very latest, before our daughter is in need of a primary school, Auckland is top of the list (odd as it may sound to some, Hamilton comes second - something about wide open spaces and bucketloads of green really pleased my wife. Wellington, my hometown, has been ruled out. Somehow steep hills, houses packed tightly into narrow, damp valleys, and constant strong, dry winds didn't sit well with my wife. Blame the weather gods for her impressions of those 3 cities). All of which is a very, very roundabout (and unnecessary) way of getting to my point:

    I have been quite happy to read of this Wynyard Quarter development and your mostly positive reactions to it, as I may well in the next couple of years be in need of cool places in Auckland to take my family.

    So please, Auckland, keep the cool stuff coming and keep it working, because we'll be seeing you, and, hopefully, getting to know you fairly soon.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

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