Jo Jalfon writes with news of the Howick Local Board’s plans for an extension to the popular Rotary Shared Path…

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The Rotary Shared Path – the new path would continue northwards along the beach. (Image via Auckland Transport)

I’m a big fan of the Rotary Shared Path that weaves along the Tamaki Estuary from Panmure Bridge to Half Moon Bay. It’s wide, largely flat and well-maintained, enabling cyclists, joggers and walkers of all ages to collectively enjoy it year-round.

One of its biggest draw-cards, besides accessibility, is its panoramic tidal vista. It reminds me of the song, I do like to be beside the seaside“, a music-hall hit from the early 1900s… well before my birth date I should stress! The song written by John A. Glover-Kind about his love of the English seaside still has relevance on the opposite side of the globe, more than a hundred years later.

In May I ventured along to a community meeting at Eastern Beach (organized by Auckland Council) to hear about a proposed new shared pathway linking Half Moon Bay with Bucklands Beach and Little Bucks.

The timing couldn’t have been better, as I’ve just discovered the over-water wooden walkway that snakes beautifully from Half Moon Bay to Little Bucks, then connects to its bigger relative along The Parade, Buckland’s Beach.

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The wooden walkway from Half Moon Bay to Little Bucks.

The proposed extended pathway is intended to be multi-use.  It’s being championed by a local policeman as a way to create a safer route for cyclists, walkers and joggers, who like me are forced onto the road once they’ve journeyed along Little Bucks. There’s no path on the water’s edge, only on the opposite residential side of the road.

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Bucklands Beach… but no seaside path to speak of.

That brings me to a question asked by a resident at the community meeting. Why can’t people just use the existing footpath, in front of the houses? Why do they insist on walking, running, or riding along the water’s edge?

Cue the music… as Mr. Glover-Kind so simply said, we do like to be beside the seaside.

A 1923 poster advertising Auckland's Riviera. (Image via Auckland Libraries)
A 1923 poster advertising Auckland’s Riviera. (Image via Auckland Libraries)

Can you imagine Kohi, Mission Bay or Devonport without their seaside paths? New Zealand is a small country surrounded by water. We’re drawn to it, like a moth to a flame, but in a good way. Being next to the water is therapeutic, revitalising, energizing. It’s part of our DNA.

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A concept image from the Local Board – the Riviera promise fulfilled at last.
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Under the boardwalk, down by the sea… (Image via Howick Local Board)

There was some resistance from residents at the meeting in May. One lamented the proposal to install seating and plant trees to shade beach-goers alongside the pathway, while another complained the trees would ruin their million-dollar-plus views, and that improving the beachfront would only encourage more people to use it, causing parking problems. (Never mind that the proposal clearly indicated there will be no change on the numbers of parking spots – and in fact, I think it could reduce traffic, through improving biking and walking facilities.)

I was heartened by what happened when one pathway opponent demanded an on-the-spot show of hands, to see how many were For and Against. To his surprise, the room was evenly divided – offering hope for the enhancement of a beautiful part of Auckland for generations to come.

FACT SHEET: Proposed Bucklands Beach Pathway

CONCEPT PLANS: Proposed Bucklands Beach Pathway

And good news just to hand! As I write this blog post, the news has arrived that construction will move ahead on stage one: “a 120-metre separated path on the road adjacent to the ageing seawall, south of Grangers Point.” This is the first priority because the crumbling seawall is slumping, which means pedestrians have to resort to walking on the road. The Howick Local Board also reports that public submissions expressed “support for the shared pathway to improve safety and accessibility and to increase amenity and enjoyment of the area,” which sounds promising for the rest of the project.

In the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying the Rotary Pathway, and I think I know what song I’ll be singing when this lovely extension is finally completed…

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