Waterfront Trams FAQ


Here is everything you need to know about the Auckland Waterfront Tramway starting August.

Waterfront trams arrive |Ports of Auckland

This site has been strongly in favour about the return of light rail to the CBD.
As seemingly the only media that seems to be bothering to cover the tramway extensively in words and pictures over the months, there’s been a large number of reader questions come in to AKT recently asking about it.

Here is a sample of the questions they have sent in and I’ll try to answer them.

Q: “What is it going to look like?”

This is how it is portrayed for Daldy St.

How it's expected to look in Daldy St

Q: “How much is it costing?”


Q:”Where is it going?”
The heritage tram will simply travel clockwise on a 1.5km circuit of Wynyard Quarter between Jellicoe, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy Sts .

Q: “What’s the point then? It’s only around the block. What would bring people there?”

The trams will promote on board the Wynyard Quarter attractions. The waterfront trams will have 4 stops along the way: at North Halsey, East Gaunt St, South Daldy St and North Daldy St.


Q: “What can people do if they alight at the stops? Even with the Wynyard development starting to appear, it presently feels a wasteland.”

My walk around the tram circuit route was not one of Auckland’s tourist highlights: a street level open Tournament parking lot, an empty lot, the NZ Bus depot (whose time is running out), the back of a service station  and a number of uninteresting semi-industrial looking premises, dwarfed by high rise corporate in the distance.

But this is future-proofing as Wynyard Quarter will be a growing attraction from around the RWC starts and develop further over the years - so this is coming at the start of an exciting  transformation to the area.

And it’s starting to look exciting!

The new events centre

The official project plan explains:

North Halsey Street / Gateway Plaza: This stop has been located to serve the eastern end of Jellicoe Street. This includes  the key destinations of North Wharf, Gateway plaza, the Viaduct Events Centre and the future Hotel on sites 15/25.  This stop will also pick up pedestrians moving across the waterfront axis from the CBD via the Wynyard crossing bridge and future Te Wero bridge
East Gaunt Street: This stop is located to the south east corner of the circuit within walking distance to the Fanshawe Street bus stops, the Victoria Park precinct and the southern area of the Viaduct (Lighter Quay). This is the closest tram stop to the CBD and will serve people both arriving into and leaving the Quarter.
South Daldy Street: This stop will be integrated with the proposed bus stop and will provide an interchange option for people enteringor leaving the Quarter. This stop is also located adjacent a proposed “central park.”
North Daldy Street: This stop located at a key point in the Quarter will in the first instance serve Jellicoe Street, Jellicoe Plaza, Silo Park,  Sanfords and North Wharf.

Q: “How many people will make the effort to use them or will they be a quaint tourist attraction for people who get dropped off in tourist buses to have a ride around the block before getting back on the buses?”

I have never seen any numbers listed of expected patronage except one early reference to the number being “limited,” especially until it gets to Britomart. But when it gets to Britomart, it could be a different story as many people now work in that area.

Q: “Why can’t it at least go to the CBD?”

The original thought was linking it to Britomart via the planned Te Wero bridge but the bridge suffered a delay under the Banks council but is now on its way. Other options looked at to connect it to the CBD and rejected were:

  • Connect Halsey Street via Viaduct Harbour Avenue – appealing but difficult because of tight turns and very narrow carriage way and therefore too problematic
  • Simply connect up through Fanshawe Street – too congested already with cars and buses
  • Take the option of not trying to connect the Wynyard Quarter with the CBD.

Are there moves to get it to Britomart?
The Mike Lee-led Auckland Council transport committee passed a resolution that Auckland Council officers work with Waterfront Development Agency and Auckland Transport to extend the tramway to the Britomart Transport Centre as soon as possible. Let’s hope those bodies can make it happen.

Q: “Besides the Britomart issue, could we not get trams back in the suburbs?”

Art doyen Hamish Keith has argued for trams to run on a loop from K Rd with overhead wires along Ponsonby and Jervois Rds where a larger and more sustainable population could use them. Others are pushing for them to run as far as Dominion Rd and a plan was drawn up to take it via Ponsonby Rd to tourist attractions MOTAT and the Zoo and so linking up with MOTAT’s line.

Q:”The tram lines are in reasonably narrow but busy streets. Will Halsey St become one way?”

Halsey remains two-way. But the intersection near Vodafone will be fun to watch. It is already a busy tricky turning point, especially with the number of buses heading to the nearby NZ Bus depot.

It will intriguing how motorists will cope with trams making the turn, in addition to the heavy traffic - especially as Auckland motorists have not had trams since the 1950s and may never have learnt the intricacies of manoeuvring around them as practised by experienced locals in Melbourne!

The corner near Vodafone

Q: “What’s happening to the popular street parking there, especially handy for visitors to the corporates and businesses around even Beaumont? My business around there needs it.”

There will be the loss of numerous back street short-term public car parking spaces as the tracks are laid too near the kerb to allow the parking that was there.


Q:”How does the MOTAT tramway do?:

MOTAT has a heritage tram service. In the last 12 months, the trams have carried 176,111 passengers, 9956 or 6% more than the previous year.

But the trams are at a destination - a museum- and so riding them is part of the experience of exploring old transport exhibits there. The tram ride is also free with every museum entry or only $2 return for an adult, $1 for a child or a family of 2 adults and 4 kids can ride return for $5. We have yet to see what the charges will be for the waterfront trams.

The increase is riding the trams was also accompanied by an increase in visitors  to MOTAT itself in the last 12 months  - a total of 266,273 admissions which represents an 8.5% increase in numbers on the previous year.

The MOTAT tram

Q: “This feels rushed”

The tram option happened because the money required was available and it was considered by advocates a start to get light rail back in Auckland on the much-used  pretext of getting it done for the RWC2011. It was pushed by the ARC and there was a rush to get it across the line before Auckland Transport arrived. If it hadn’t, the whole idea may have been buried as so often happens in Auckland. Mike Lee was the advocate that got it moving and we have him to thank.

Once it starts and as Wynyard develops, there could be other options including using modern light rail which extends to other places.

Q: “Are we not getting modern light rail as I have seen overseas?”

For now, we have to lease an old W2 and X1 from Bendigo’s tram museum in Victoria. There has been talk of having a loan of light rail from Japan but this may have been halted because of the quake. Light rail will cost more than leasing a couple of old trams.

So what are the trams we have got?
Waterfront Auckland has leased two 1920’s trams – a W2 Class Tram and X-1 Class Tram – to run on the tracks.
The 17 tonne, 48 feet long W2 tram has a seating capacity of 52 and a 2-person tram (driver and conductor). The 9 tonne, 31 feet long X-1 tram has a seating capacity of 32 and requires one person – the driver.

What colour are they?
They have both been painted in the original 1950’s ‘carnation red’, and emblazoned with “Waterfront Auckland Trams ”livery.”

Who is running it?
The same people who run the Christchurch tramway but under a separate company. The tramway will be very similar in appearance to MOTAT’s in Western Springs and the heritage circuit in Christchurch. The Christchurch tramway has yet to resume but it’s thought to have suffered “minor damage” overall according to its website.

Can I become a driver?
They were advertising. Nine have been chosen.

I work in the area. Won’t they be noisy?
Waterfront Auckland says a unique installation technique is being used in in the track installation. It involves a specific type of polyurethane which gets poured into the trench which the tracks sit in. This grout acts as a shock absorber and provides significant reduction in the sound and vibration that occurs.
This is the first time the installation method has been used in the southern hemisphere and whilst it is great for the ambience of the surrounding area, it has proven to provide real headaches for the installers! The reason being the polyurethane grout has a consistency of water when it’s poured into the track trenches it goes solid in less than 10 minutes. Not exactly easy considering the tracks need to be set to exact specifications down to the millimetre.

How much will the fares be?

The Wynyard Quarter trams will cost $10 for an all day pass.

It will be free for children 16 years and under accompanied by an adult (to a max. of 3 children per adult). Otherwise it’s $5 for a child ticket.

The service is being run by the same people who run the Christchurch heritage tram service. The Christchurch fares are $17 for an adult and $5 for a child.

Can they go across the new bridge providing pedestrian and cycle access from the Auckland Viaduct to Wynyard Quarter which provides a direct link from the end of Te Wero Island in the east, to Gateway Plaza in the west?

No. The bridge is too small. The bridge plan had a bit of a chequered past under the old Council and its grandiose plans got knocked back and delayed.


What has the construction involved?
The project includes the laying of tracks and road renewal, as well as installing the over-head wires at approximately 6m in height. The project involves:

  • Construction of the tramway infrastructure
  • Supporting overhead infrastructure including poles and overhead wires at approximately 6m in height
  • Tram stops
  • Removal / pruning of existing Pohutukawa trees on Halsey Street and Gaunt Street

There are two stages.

  • Stage 1 provides a permanent track within Jelllicoe, Halsey and Gaunt streets and a temporary route running parallel to Daldy Street.
  • The second will further integrate the tram route and associated infrastructure (such as light columns, tram stops and street furniture) into the built form.

Where the trams will be housed

Latest pictures of the construction are here

Latest pictures of Wynard Quarter Development are here
How Auckland trams will look




  1. Jarrod Gill says:

    I love it. I hope they extend this past Britomart, up Queen St and thru Ponsonby. I am sure it would be extremely well used.

  2. Patrick R says:

    You gotta love Mike Lee, he’s a sly dog, he’s been extremely clever at sneaking improvements past the limitless layers of resistance in Auckland. Onehunga, Manukau City rail lines, now this…. well done Mike. Let’s just hope that we can get to a stage where we can plan and build the things that will so obviously improve the city without having to fight the forces of regression all the way. Eh, Rodney and Steve?

  3. Scott says:

    I love it too, I hope its extended via Britomart and Queen street to Dominion road. Do you know what voltage it will be? Has the battery powered tram idea officially been scraped? I see an overhead in the render.

  4. rtc says:

    The battery powered tram was scrapped because the altered the route slightly meaning overhead cables could be used, making it a lot easier.

    Great move to get it downtown ASAP, will be great to see this looping down to Britomart.

  5. greenwelly says:

    To get such a link to work properly, it needs to involve the Te whero bridge, which at last look had a cost of $20-50 million,

    @Scott the Battery powered tram was likely to be a Kawasaki SWIMO, which allowed it to run on sections that had no overhead, (it was a sop to the boat industry) who objected to overhead on Beaumont ( the originally intended route)

  6. Owen Thompson says:

    Is the bus depot getting the boot out of the area?

  7. Sam says:

    I cant see the current loop being used that much for commuting, given the current low population of the area, the fact that the vast majority would have to catchat least one more service on their commute, the 2 bus routes which will also service the area, and that it would take a simalar time to walk the route when waiting time is considered.

    Extension to Britomart needs to be pushed through as fast as possible, before people start taking the opportunity to decare trams in Auckland a failure.. It will be interesting seeing the public response to diggin up Quay Street again!’

    I am however fully in support of the trams- very exciting news! It wouldnt have created the same atmosphere if they were battery powered. wynyard Quarter has so much potential- the first time Auckland has put some good effort and thought into public space in my opinion. I just hope people can get there easily enough!

  8. Matt L says:

    Owen - Infratili want to develop the land for something more productive, they put in a bid for the National Convention Centre using that site. If they don’t win it (which is likely) then they will build something else there.

  9. Nick R says:

    I hope that the extension can go ahead before Wynyard is developed much, so that people and buisinesses can get used to having a quality transit link to the city and the central transport interchange. If they leave it too long companies will demand lots of car parking for their workers and customers and new developments will have a heap of carparking, lots will stay empty to park cars and there will be pressure to maintain a high level of street parking.
    A car based office park/mall is the last thing we want on our waterfront.

    If they do extend to Britomart, they should just go the whole hog and extend it up Queen St to K Rd. There is now only one bus route to be on Queen St, this will go from Wynyard to K Rd. Lets just make it a tram.

    @Scott, it is most likely to be either 750V or 600V DC. Just about every tram in the world operates to one of those two standards.

  10. Kon says:

    This gradual stealth approach has to be applauded, eventually the network will be extended and enclude most of central Auckland and beyond!

  11. Surely extending to Victoria Park would have been easy, then at least it would link two tourism destinations. (Albeit not top 10 destinations). As well as with the very popular link bus. Then Franklin road or college hill

  12. DanC says:

    This is very good. It’ll kick start further expansion. (Mike Lee is a legend)

    If I had my way I’d run this historical style tram service from St Heliers around the bays past Britomart, Te Wero Bridge around the current build outside edge of the loop then under the Vic Park flyover, up Hepburn, down Williamson, Tuarangi then link up with the Motat line. This would be used by tourists and commuters.

    A modern service should run the dominion road / queen street route.

    Just a link across to Britomart will be ideal.

  13. Andy says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some oblivious person parked their car on the tracks!

  14. Max says:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if some oblivious person parked their car on the tracks!”

    Then that oblivious person will very fittingly wonder where he has parked it when he gets back and it has been towed ;-)

    I fully approve that this needs to go to Britmart QUICK, or it will be derided harshly. In fact, the hope that it will connect to Britomart (and hope springs eternal - to Ponsonby and Tamaki Drive one day) is all that keeps me from deriding it…

  15. Brent Efford says:

    Yes, Jarod – downtown trams, a la streetcars, are the big growth area in US urban transport and were also second only to the Cathedral as the icons of Christchurch. I am picking that they will be a major factor in the earthquake recovery, defining and servicing the new-look CBD.
    Chch Mayor Bob Parker calls it the magic of ‘steel and sparks’. Whatever it is, it works. Post-RWC the incentive to push ahead with an extension to Britomart and up Queen St is undeniable. The Wynyard loop is all that could be done before the RWC, given the supercity reorganisation. It is only a toe in the water, not a complete system, and should be judged as an economical way of getting the concept established.

  16. Nick says:

    I haven’t lived in Auckland for very long, but having trams running down major roads like Dominion just seems like common sense. Your major roads like Dominion, North Rds appear to be plenty wide enough for trams. When I see the bus lanes in action they’re mostly just used for carparking. I think thats a waste of space. Trams are more pedstrian, cyclist friendly and I would think more efficient at carrying passengers too.

  17. Ian M says:

    Cant wait for the trams to start and the area to be revitalised. Wow, wouldnt a national stadium down on the old bus depot site been great-would have been a great asset and much better than at the port. Im also curious as to why the convention centre down there wasnt designed to be our national centre. It seems that we are now going to have two convention centres competing.

  18. KarlHansen says:

    Ian M - the Marine / Viaduct Events centre is not quite the same as a big convention centre. It’s for smaller, and more maritime / general public-themed events

    For comparison, SkyCity is now thinking of investing, what - $200-300 million? - into their new convention centre. The Viaduct Events Centre cost approx 32 million. That gives you a rough idea of scale.


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