Newly opened Southern Path allows for picturesque harbour views, supports active travel modes
| Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Those looking to bike, walk or scooter between Takanini and Papakura in southern Auckland can now take in picturesque views of the Manukau Harbour as they travel along a new shared path.
Te Mara O Hine footbridge across motorway and Southern Path over Pahurehure Inlet.
The Southern Path which connects communities along the Southern Motorway was officially opened on Friday.
“This path provides a missing link across the harbour and connects in with a city-wide cycling and walking network being developed, which encourages communities to use more active modes when travelling shorter distances,” says Waka Kotahi National Manager Infrastructure Delivery Andy Thackwray.
Up until now walking and cycling in the area has been limited, with few facilities and safety challenges including a lack of safe motorway crossing points.
The new path provides more reliable and safe transport options and is expected to be a popular recreational choice for locals, getting them out and about for exercise with their friends and whānau.
“It’s important for us to consider everyone’s needs when upgrading our transport networks to provide more travel choices, as not everyone can or wants to drive. Shared paths provide a safe off-road option and by moving people from private cars to other modes we can also reduce congestion and our vehicle emissions,” says Mr Thackwray.
The Southern Path is effectively the last piece of the puzzle in the wider Southern Corridor Improvements (SCI) project to be completed.
It follows the addition of extra motorway lanes to improve traffic flow opened in December 2019, as well as improved safety barriers and lighting, new noise walls and safety and capacity upgrades to the Takanini interchange.
“Waka Kotahi is working to deliver an integrated and reliable journey to customers, whether travelling by car, truck, bike or public transport. With southern Auckland identified as a rapidly expanding area, multi-modal projects like this are required to meet the immediate needs of the city’s growth as well as future proofing for the longer term,” says Mr Thackwray.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who was among the first to bike the path, welcomed the completion of the work.
“The Southern Path is a scenic route taking in the Pahurehure Inlet and providing access to several parks and reserves,” he said.
“The pedestrian overbridge which forms part of the path will provide a safe way to cross the motorway, enabling people to explore and connect with other communities along the route.
“Developing a city-wide cycling and walking connection will help to reduce traffic congestion for those who do drive, while lowering transport carbon emissions, which make up more than 40 per cent of Auckland’s emissions profile.”
The scenic Southern Path will take people along a 4.5km long route running beside the SH1 corridor between Takanini and Papakura interchanges via two separate bridges crossing the harbour at Pahurehure Inlet.
These two bridges restore public access to a peninsula at Takaanini Point for the first time since the adjacent motorway was constructed in the mid-1960s.
The path also links into the community with local connections at Brylee Drive, Conifer Grove reserve, and esplanade reserves at the end of Gardone Terrace and Pescara Point.
Construction is set to shortly begin shortly on an additional local link to the path directly beside the Walter Strevens Drive overbridge.
A landmark new footbridge, also opened on Friday, connects in with the path and enables people to cross the motorway on the south side of the harbour between esplanade reserves at Pescara Point and Rushgreen Avenue.
Its curved shape reflects the natural contour of the coastal environment below it, while the overall design of the bridge takes the skeletal form of a tuna (eel) and includes a scale-type pattern (referred to as niho-niho) within the balustrade design.
“Mana Whenua have gifted the name ‘Te Mara O Hine’ to the new footbridge, which means ‘The Garden of Hine’. Hinewai was an ancestor of Waiohua who was locally renowned for her expansive gardens and for feeding the people,” says Mr Thackwray.
Eight iwi artworks have also been installed as part of the wider SCI project, with four located along the Southern Path.
At Takaanini Point, Waka Kotahi has also installed a memorial to Chandra Perera, the initial project manager for the SCI project, who passed away in 2018.
The Southern Path will be extended a further 4km between the Papakura and Drury interchanges as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme’s Papakura to Drury South project, which began construction in April 2021.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency works to create transport solutions for all New Zealanders – from helping new drivers earn their licences, to leading safety campaigns to investing in public transport, state highways and local roads.