Queen Vic Wouldn’t Be Amused


Tired, tacky, quite frankly embarrassing.

Is anything ever going to be done to the 1905 former Auckland City rubbish destructor site developed as a leading Auckland tourist attraction, known as Victoria Park markets?

I doubt the tourist buses stop by there any more, or at least for Auckland’s reputation sake, I hope they don’t.

Since property developer David Henderson bought it in 2004, it’s been promised a major revamp.

Now come reports re-development work is about to begin after a property funder associated with him named Triumph picked up the property for $21.6 million earlier this year.

Right now, reduced to a place of trinkets and cheap food, the markets have little value.

What is desperately need is to take this fantastic historical facility and turn it into something that Aucklanders can be proud of and get the place being used in a way that attracts value to the area.

The recent move of the Nike store into another part of the market is the closest this decaying place has seen to being touched by a modern commercial enterprise and the promise to revamp the place to bring in restaurants, shopping and nightlife would be a dream.

It would give both Aucklanders and city dwellers another option for experiencing inner city entertainment beyond the existing waterfront and Queen Street areas and provide an excellent compliment to the great greenlands and park area opposite.

However, the promises of what this updated Victoria Market can be are yet to be realised and we can only hope that Triumph live up to their name and achieve what they are planning for the historical facility. The isn’t the first time that talk or commitment to upgrade the place has been in play and we will have to wait and see if the new guys can commit to making Victoria Market a attractive location.

The surrounding area is witnessing a renaissance.

Telecom’s new Victoria St HQ is about to open, Glengarry has opened a nice eatery, Victoria Park tunnel is being built, the heritage Campbell Kindergarten is being spruced up, the old Birdcage tavern will be moved back a few metres to form part of a nice village square and not far away Wynyard Quarter is being developed, including ASB moving its HQ down there.

In the middle stands this wasted opportunity.

But we have been promised a New York style bar, German beer hall, a nightclub, a Japanese restaurant and even an Argentinian steak house - and goodness knows what else in the last decade.

If that is to happen for real, the time is now before the hordes of RWC visitors wander down the road to check out our stunning inner city tourist attraction! It’s in all the Auckland Guide books as a major attraction so there is little doubt that they will appear in there droves only to be horrified.

Having been a rubbish depot, a power station, a horse stable and of course a so-called ‘market place’ it would be great to see this building and the surrounding area restored, so as to become a experience that should live up to its present listing in the Lonely Planet Guide, as for now it is really an empty shell waiting for a promise.

Alex K is a new AKT contributor on Auckland issues. Welcome Alex K.




  1. rtc says:

    Victoria Park Market sale nears settlement, August redevelopment start
    Published 28 June 2010
    David Henderson’s Kitchener Group Ltd will complete the sale of Victoria Park Market to Victoria Quarter Ltd next week and work on the market’s redevelopment is expected to start in August.

    The buyer is the vehicle for a consortium fronted by Anthony McCullagh (PKF Corporate Recovery & Insolvency (Auckland) Ltd). The transaction is due to settle by Thursday 10 July. Kitchener bought the market for $14.1 million at the beginning of 2004.

    The builder for the market’s redevelopment is CMP Construction Ltd. Mr Henderson will retain an involvement as development manager, earning the fee which he has proposed using for a debt-compromise scheme with creditors. Under that scheme, creditors owed at least half his total $166 million debt have waived their right to a payment, allowing a payment of up to 4.5c:$1 to the others.

    Mr Henderson won 89% support for his proposal from creditors in April but court approval is being contested by his ex-wife, Rochelle. The application for approval will go to a hearing in the Auckland High Court in September.

    Westpac NZ Ltd has arranged Victoria Quarter Ltd’s funding for the purchase & redevelopment of the market. Mr Henderson has told market tenants the company has now engaged all consultants for the project and is seeking building consent.

    The development will be in 2 stages, excluding redevelopment of the parking building, which was an initial stage in earlier plans but not part of this project.

    Stage 1, from The Great NZ Shop to the Union St end of the market, known as the western courtyard: The existing brick buildings will be rebuilt, a new 2-storey retail premises will replace the ramp and a new 2-storey building will be erected in the western courtyard.

    Stage 1 includes the rebuilding & strengthening of the chimney and 5 new restaurants on Drake St, in the upstairs area of the destructor building, the western & eastern stables buildings and the new building.

    The western end of the market will be closed for 6 months for stage 1 of the development but the eastern end will stay open.

    Stage 2, from Solemates to the Wilson’s carpark, will follow on from stage 1 and will be completed within the following 3-6 months.

  2. rtc says:

    This piece on you’ve written on the Vic Park markets is pretty out of date to be honest. Also, nothing is happening to the carparrk sorry.

  3. joust says:

    Rtc none of that disputes the fact presented in the original post that the VPM is little but a shadow of it’s former self and some of the suggestions sound pretty encouraging. Speaking of encouragement - thanks Alex K for presenting a nicely crafted reminder of a part of the cbd that for most is left out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

  4. William Ross says:

    What a great piece Alex. I look forward to more. When I was on the Link bus this afternoon I saw some obvious tourists wandering across the road from the park making their way there and my heart sank. I dont feel confident it will ever be redeveloped given the developers publicly recorded financial record in the last year or so.

  5. DanC says:

    That car park needs to go, it’s so wrong and also the downtown car park. What strange places for carparks!

  6. Frustrated says:

    It’s a blight on an area that is being otherwise developed. It actually feels quite threatening now with empty stalls and loitering stall people. Glad you raised the issue. It’s been forgotten because of the distraction of the tunnel project going on.

  7. Neil says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this. That place is such a wasted opportunity and frankly an eyesore. That carpark needs to go now! It has so much potential to be an excellent heritage area…. and it has such a fascinating history!

  8. Sarah says:

    I’m very interested in the Campbell kindergarten heritage project which is what brought me into the site tonight after seeing on Twitter you had an item about it and I congratulate the NZTA on picking this up.
    So it’s a timely piece Alex. I only wish the new council will pay some attention to it.

  9. Pukekohe Lad says:

    OMG This brought back memories.
    On our annual school trip into Auckland CBD (by bus not train sadly) we had to go to the markets and thought they were cool especially when kids found the stall selling bongs.
    I went there with my fiancee some months back when i wanted to see the tunnel project and was appalled.
    You captured it well Alex especially with your description of how tacky it is.

  10. Alex K says:

    @rtc Thanks for reprinting some newspaper article but I was aware of the latest decision on redevelopment. I am still skeptical given we have heard claims of redevelopment for almost a decade and I can’t help but note that your reposted article indicated work was supposed to have begun two months ago.

    So I went along to have a look and was horrified. Therefore I feel we need to have this debate.

    Thanks everyone for your feedback so far


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>