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Stuart’s 100 #18 A Great South Rd?

18: A Great South Road?


What if Great South Road truly was great?

The creation of Great South Road was one of the great formational moves in the early expansion of Auckland. Starting in 1861, some 12,000 soldiers built the highway over 2 years to provide a direct route south out of Auckland to the Waikato hinterland during the New Zealand Wars. It quickly became the primary commercial and community link between areas to the south of the isthmus, providing opportunity for the garrison communities like Otahuhu that had sprung up along its route to become important centres in their own right.

That role has long been surpassed by the Southern Motorway, but the legacy of Great South Road remains. It is a highly important route connecting communities and large employment areas in the south. As a route however, the legibility of where it goes and what it connects to is perhaps not very widely known or understood for Aucklanders who live and work further afield, who will be much more familiar with the motorway.

Much of Great South Road already is great. Places like Otahuhu are vibrant and diverse with a bright future. Otahuhu has significant development potential underpinned by a fantastic legacy of a historic fine grain pattern of streets and subdivision on flat land. It can readily adapt to support further growth that will benefit both the town centre and forthcoming rail-bus interchange.

By contrast, other sections of the route aren’t so great, still feeling like the road is still the main highway out of town.

Wouldn’t it be great if Great South Road – in stark contrast to the southern motorway – could become a celebrated route through the south that relates to the urban fabric and communities of Auckland? A strengthening of the corridor and centres through greater mixed use development,  improvements for walking and cycling and a legible and frequent bus route with rail connections at Manurewa, Manukau, Otahuhu, Penrose, Ellerslie, Greenlane and Remuera starts to add up to what sounds like a great urban corridor for this part of Auckland.

Great South Road, and other similar urban corridors, should have stronger alignment of land use and transport planning in the future to work steadily towards becoming positive forces in the city that can help shape and guide how Auckland grows and develops into the future.


11 comments to Stuart’s 100 #18 A Great South Rd?

  • Jacques

    What if Great South Road was renamed into something less nonsensical? giving a direction as the name for a road is pretty odd, as it’s bidirectional by nature. There’s quite a few other streets with similarly confusing and boring names (great south rd, new north rd…). What about renaming them into something more evocative, more poetic, and more attractive? Nothing like a good name change to change people’s perception of an area. cf Te Atatu North -> Te Atatu Peninsula.

  • S

    I like the Great South Rd name and the others because of the links to Auckland of old. I also like the way that they’re entertainingly weird – using Great North Road to get to what is now emphatically West Auckland, for example.

    Great South Rd through Papakura has potential to be much more than it is at present. Good post.

  • nemisis

    Manurewa where I grew up was a great little garden community town with a very enlightened borough council under mayor Harry Beamont.
    Under Harrys leader ship the borough purchased many parks and encouraged ground breaking garden subdivisions working with the natural landscape and discouraging fencing between properties and encouraging planting instead. Most of the titles had caveats preventing fencing. Manurewa at one time had probably the most parks per head of population anywhere. Sadly manurewa was annexed by manukau city and its corrupt and one eyed planners who created the nightmare that Manukau is today plus completely ruined Manurewa and then Papatoetoe It would be great to reestablish the identify of the old towns while creating new centres for the poor areas tacked onto the original towns.
    The sea of housing filling the spaces between the old towns deserve their own centres that give some focus and identity to that neighbourhood. There are already some existing secondary corridors that would work well and all that is required is some vision from our so called leaders at Council and our highly paid planners to do their job for urban revival to happen for these areas. It is an exciting prospect.
    Thankyou Patrick for focussing our attention on the forgotten parts of Auckland.

  • JamesS

    Totally agreed RE Otahuhu. Has great old bones and a huge amount of potential – give it ten years and people will be tripping over themselves to live there.

    There is something very endearing and sentimental about the string of old South Auckland towns: Otahuhu -> Papatortoe -> Manurewa -> Papakua. Can’t wait to see that part of the city blossom.

  • Rharris

    Agree. Great north rd and new north rd should be the same. All these roads should be as iconic as queen, ponsonby, dominion. A lot of history along these roads. Could be a greater focus for Ateed and creating urban journeys for locals and tourists. The 6 great streets of Auckland.

    Some of these town centres along these roads could do with reviving, mt Albert, Avondale. Have great potential as most sit on the rail lines. Should be the future of Auckland, thriving town centres along rail lines.

  • Jordan

    I have always been confused by the street numbering on Great South Road, which seems to restart at odd points for no discernable reason. For example, there’s 100 Great South Road in Epsom, 100 Great South Road in Otahuhu and 100 Great South Road in Manurewa.

    Can anyone explain why? I’m not aware of any other main roads (like Great North Road) that have this feature.

    This seems like something that should be addressed if Great South Road is to become a more cohesive and iconic route.

    • > Can anyone explain why? I’m not aware of any other main roads (like Great North Road) that have this feature.

      The places along Great South Road used to genuinely be separate towns, separated by rural areas, with separate local governments. The numbers didn’t restart at any point, it was just treated as a different street in each town, and the bits between towns weren’t numbered at all.

      The thing that’s unusual isn’t restarting the numbers, but the fact that the road has the same name the whole way along. Most intercity main roads didn’t (and often still don’t) have proper names, and if the main road was also the main street of some town, it’d be given a specific name (like Queen Street) for the part within the town, but roads between towns would often just be described by their destination, rather than be named.

  • John Mackay

    Happened to drive along a bit of The Great South Rd yesterday. There’s an appalling stretch just north of Drury where the berms are lined with bedraggled 2-metre high paling fences, behind which squat the low tiled roofs of recent suburban developments. Then suddenly, on the southern approach to Papakura, it becomes Great – overhung by magnificent big trees (And not just those of Kirk’s Bush). What if we kicked off Stuart’s idea by cruising down the full length with a big 2-metre drill bit and dropping a new street tree into every bit of kerbside asphalt that isn’t necessary for normally dimensioned carpark spaces or moving carriageway ?

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