The Auckland Domain, at first glance, may appear a quite typically English park. Lots of imported deciduous trees shading the slopes, and on mowed green lawns, you see people playing cricket.
It takes a bit of a closer look to see that there’s a volcanic cone in the centre. And an appreciation of history to realise that this was an important pa site for Maori – well-protected by a swamp where the playing fields are now. And what is much-loved can also be much-fought over – hence the name: Pukekawa, the “hill of bitter memories“.
We think it is neat to see more Maori symbolism being integrated into the park upgrades to reflect this older history – such as in the road renewal of Lower Domain Drive. This didn’t only get us an uphill cycle lane and a proper footpath, it also added great-looking fencing and carving poles reflecting that heritage. You rarely see a cycle lane framed that neatly.
On the more technical side, we found the cycle lane makes an enormous change to riding this route, especially if you aren’t really that good on hills. It is relatively steep, and not feeling like an impatient driver could be hanging on your heels does a lot for peace of mind. Downhill, of course, no cycle lane was added, but many people will be fine with that, as the cycling goes faster, making things a bit less stressful in more than one way.
So – well done, Auckland Transport! We look forward to see the other planned changes to make the Domain better for walking & cycling.