Harbour Bridge’s 60th anniversary set to sparkle this Queen’s Birthday Weekend


Auckland’s iconic Harbour Bridge is set to sparkle this Queen’s Birthday weekend for its 60th birthday, with a Vector Lights show running every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm from Wednesday 29 May – Monday 3 June 2019 celebrating the city’s transport past, present and future.

Opened with much fanfare on 30 May 1959, the NZ Transport Agency now maintains the bridge on behalf of all Aucklanders. The Vector Lights show, delivered in collaboration with Vector and Auckland Council, depicts the new way forward to a more sustainable transport future with walking and cycling and rapid transit options, as well as vehicles.

A critical link connecting the North Shore to central Auckland and further south, it carries 172,000 vehicles a day and until the opening of the Waterview Tunnel in 2017, was the main freight and commuter route through Auckland. Looking to the future, the bridge is set to play a critical role in connecting Auckland’s cycling network, with construction of a walking and cycling path over the bridge to join up with the planned SeaPath route to the North Shore.

NZTA’s Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton, says, “We’re delighted to deliver a family-friendly light show for Aucklanders to celebrate the 60th birthday of their harbour bridge.

The bridge, as well as being a transport link, is more importantly a link for people, connecting communities with opportunities for work, education and recreation.”

Bring the family and friends to one of these viewing hotspots around the city for a front-row seat to the action: 

Each night the show begins at 6pm, runs for 3-5 minutes and is repeated at 30-minute intervals until 10pm. You can share your Vector Lights experience on social media with #vectorlights.

You can watch the audio and visual live stream on Vector’s Facebook page or on the Vector Lights webpage at www.vector.co.nz/lights(external link).

Just in time for its birthday, the bridge has had an energy-efficient upgrade with new 118 new LED lights providing drivers with clear, clean, white light. The sustainable LED technology is expected to cut the lighting bill by half and significantly boost safety.  

The existing streetlight poles have been in place since the clip-ons were added to the bridge in 1969 and at 50 years old they were approaching the end of their life.

Each LED light is comprised of a bank of LEDs so should a single LED fail, the rest will still continue to light the road. Fewer failures means fewer closures for maintenance and less inconvenience for motorists.  In a nod to the past, the new lights retain one of the bridge’s iconic features – the arch of the original light poles.

The LEDs benefit the regular Vector Lights shows by reducing the light spill to minimise ‘wash out’ to the Vector display, which itself is driven by 90,000 LEDs attached to the bridge structure.

Notes to editors:

  • The light show is approximately 5 minutes long and has three acts representing the past, present and future of Auckland’s transport. Act I focuses on the bridge’s construction, Act II it’s present day use and Act III transport across the Waitemata Harbour in future, encompassing walking, cycling and rapid transit.
  • Before it opened in 1959, the only way passenger vehicles could cross the harbour was by ferry; a time consuming, expensive and infrequently made journey.
  • Any delays to traffic on the bridge affect both the Southern and Northern State Highway 1 motorways, so sophisticated planning and management helps keep motorists and freight moving 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A dedicated team monitors the bridge via live cameras. The cameras transmit images to the traffic operations centre in Takapuna where operators can assess the traffic flow and organise emergency services and tow trucks if and when needed.
  • More information about related Harbour Bridge projects is available at the following links: