Ban Vehicles On Mt Eden Summit Road


Maungawhau (Mt Eden) urgently needs to get some tender loving care around its precious volcanic cone and the narrow summit road leading to it.

MT EDEN SUMMIT; Tourist buses ruining it

I’m reminded of that because of the official transfer of 15 volcanic cones today to Maori (The Tämaki Collective) including Mt Eden - and the signing of Deed of Settlement for all outstanding historical Treaty claims with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei will receive a financial and commercial redress worth $18 million, which includes $2 million already received by Ngāti Whātua Örākei as redress for the 1993 Railways settlement, and the return of Purewa Creek Conservation Area.

The Government says public access will not be affected.

The 15 cones include One Tree Hill and Mt Eden, Mt Albert, Mt Smart, North Head Historic Reserve and Wiri Historic Reserve.

The Friends of Maungawhau group, in its submission on the Auckland Plan, point out that Maungawhau is a heritage site of international significance.

“Yet we see uncontrolled tourism and other use, cases of private encroachment, erosion, scheduled weeds covering the site and a confused management and governance structure that is not dealing with implementing the management plan.

“The crowded tourist use on Maungawhau is greater than Milford Sound and exclusive use is adversely affecting the archaeological site. Maungawhau gets more overseas tourism than Milford Sound- 1.2 million visitors a year with 51% being international tourists - yet there are poor systems to protect the resource let alone protect local community interests.

Auckland Council finally acted about the deterioration of the area by banning tourist buses from using the very upper summit as from next month. Smaller shuttle buses would be provided for those who can’t make the remaining 200m to the very top and the kiosk would also be upgraded.

MT EDEN SUMMIT: Buses won't be able to park at the very top

The previous Councils’ history in this matter is a well-documented disgrace with plans as far back as 1986 to ban the big buses never being enacted and another attempt in 2077 to create some sort of light rail or small bus operation for the last portion of the trip to the top. That never happened.

Even the latest scheme was threatened with being delayed thanks to ATEED - the Auckland Council Tourism body that famously underestimated the RWC Opening Night numbers and whose chief has resigned as part of the Hamilton V8 scandal

The move has already been delayed because of the RWC.

Friends of Maungawhau have their wonderful Love Your Mountain open day when cars are not allowed but you can walk or cycle to the top on December 4. It’s a great day. I hope by then the bus ban comes into effect.

But I still argue strongly it’s paying lip service to the problem.

Ban buses altogether. People love to walk, run and cycle up the mountain but that’s highly dangerous with big buses at your heels on the narrow road. Provide some area further down at the very bottom where buses can park and small shuttle vans run people to the top if they can not walk. That’s how it would happen in some overseas tourist spots.

STOP; Close the summit road completely

There’s been already far too much damage done to our volcanic cones. Ask Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.




  1. Geoff says:

    I would close the summit road completely, and build a cable car up the mountain. It would actually enhance the whole experience for visitors. Pedestrians and cyclists could then use the old road exclusively.

  2. Jeff H says:

    Banning cars altogether would be unfair to many elderly and disabled Aucklanders who should have every right to freely enjoy the Maungawhau summit.

    Limiting or charging commercial operators is another matter.

  3. Ben says:

    2077? Heck a bit of way out yet isn’t :P

    I agree, close that road completely and possibily have shuttles or a cable car run up and down the volcano :)

  4. Pim says:

    Funiculars are cooler. xD

  5. Matt L says:

    Jeff - If shuttles are provided then they can use those

  6. Owen Thompson says:

    How much are the Maoris going to charge for access to our mountains?

  7. Paul W says:

    In opening I must state that I work for a tour coach company. I disagree with the ban of coaches visiting the summit of Mt Eden. Currently 51% of all visitors travelling to the summit of Mt Eden go by coach. Coaches, per passenger, do less damage to the road than the average 4WD, as air bag suspension takes out all of the impact on the road and distributes the weight more evenly. The fact that the road has been neglected for years on end is not taken into account when people look at the condition of the road – the coaches just get the blame. UV rays and years of weathering have taken a toll on the road – not the coaches. The itineraries of most tours do not allow the time required for passengers to walk up to the summit of the mountain, just a 15-20 minute visit, and the average coach passenger is probably not fit enough to make the walk to the top. The council need to save it’s money and not purchase the shuttles as 51% of all visitors will now be lost as the itineraries have already been amended and Mt Eden will not be included. There are some financial implications for some companies who have contracts to provide sightseeing which includes Mt Eden – they don’t gain any financial reward for taking passenger up to the summit, but will now be fined by overseas tour companies for failing to provide what they have contractually agreed to in their published itineraries. At the meeting with ATEED all the tour operators requested was a longer lead time for the closure of the road to coaches (at that stage only 30-days notice was issued) until the end of the cruise boat season in April 2012, but this was not to be and so the summit will close to heavy vehicles from the 12th of December. I can hear many people rejoicing – but a major icon in Auckland will now miss out.

  8. Geoff Houtman says:

    Owen- I believe “the Maoris” aren’t going to charge anything.

    Paul W- you say the coach companies “don’t gain any financial reward for taking passenger (sic) up the summit”, of course they DO- they’re making money out of taking them up there as you point out in the rest of the same sentence.
    If the itinerary of the tour is too “tight” the companies can adjust it, if the overseas tour companies moan that their passengers are only being taken 200m from the top, the companies can prove that’s the new rule. All of those agreements have a “may change without notice” clause in them anyway.

    It’s no huge problem

  9. max says:

    “How much are the Maoris going to charge for access to our mountains?”

    Owen, did Europeans ever legally buy “our” mountains? And if yes, did they do it in an ethical way? Or did we just apply squatters rules (squatters with lots of gun rules)? Taranaki Rules?

    Kidding aside, the statement DID say that public access would not be affected, and I’d think politicians and negotiators are extremely aware of the free access concerns. It wasn’t like with the similar case of beaches it was a major topic in several elections or anything.

  10. Rene says:

    Surely if tourists want a good quality view of Auckland from an elevated perspective then isnt the Sky Tower a better bet?

    We need to pursue more aggressively a level of quality tourism that is not so dependent in the mass market bus tour packages that actually keeps very little money in NZ. The yeild to NZ of a tourist that sits on a bus and does the standard Auckland - Rotorua - Queenstown - Auckland round trip is not worth buggering up our own backyard for.

    To be sure there is a place for bus tour operators, but not at the expense of the public purse and the sustainability of key locations such as Mount Eden.

  11. urbanlocal says:

    Banning buses is not enough. Smaller vehicles can move much faster than buses which also diminishes walking / cycling experiences.
    Light and narrow shuttles (rubber wheeled trains) would be appropriate to take up those who can’t or won’t walk.

    The shuttle could travel to the nearby Mt Eden Village to result in a greater visitor experience and support the small businesses (which would help with the business case for funding).

    Cable car (gondola / aerial tram) would diminish the appearance of the cone, and a funicular would result in unacceptable earth moving. Cost would never be borne by council.

    @Rene - I think the view from the top of Mt Eden is much better that from the sky tower :)

  12. Rene says:


    I completely agree!. But SkyTower was designed as a tourist trap that is meant to generate revenue, employ people etc. Let it trap!

    Mount Eden and the other cones are freebies that commerical enterprises are able to cash in on unless there is a levy I havent heard about.

    And besides, the demographic profile of bus tourists I’m sure are much more inclined to see the SkyTower experience as something more worthwhile. If they want to see the view from the top, then do it the good ‘ol kiwi way…..strap on your walking shoes and get stuck in.

  13. urbanlocal says:

    I like the sound of you Rene. You have your head screwed on very well!

  14. Just to confirm, there won’t be any traffic on Maungawhau on Love Your Mountain Day, Sunday 4 Dec, except for authorised vehicles carrying disabled passengers.
    So come along and enjoy the day! We have heaps on offer and it’s all free. Check out:
    The summit road, by the way, is not a public road. It’s a road through a reserve, that buses have used without charge for decades. The council will introduce electric shuttles when the heavy buses are banned from 12 Dec.


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