Tahitai—one tide, one journey—is the name gifted by Taranaki Whānui for the 7km spectacular harbour-side route connecting Wellington’s central city to Motu Kairangi / Miramar Peninsula and the Eastern Suburbs. This new path celebrates the taonga of Akau Tangi and The Whanganui a Tara, and forms part of Te Aranui o Pōneke / the Great Harbour Way—a vision to link the entirety of the Wellington Harbour coastline with high quality walking and cycling paths. Competition for space required a pragmatic and place-based approach to balance making the journey safer and more enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities with private cars, freight, and public transport. Modular precast retaining wall blocks draw on the forms of the natural rock formations of Ōmarukaikuru, and provide vertical separation between the paths and lookout areas—their careful choreography creates a dramatic pattern. Hardy planting accents the experience—separating walking and cycling pathways and adding variance that that highlights the unique reclaimed coastal environment and the dynamic habitat it provides.
In addition to delivering transformational transport infrastructure Tahitai enhances the quality and resilience of Wellington’s waterfront environments and provides a series of new destinations that express the natural history and cultural significance of the area. Seating platforms encourage access to the water, in a way that is sympathetic way to the existing rock-forms and sized to be penguin-proof. The new rock revetment along Cobham Drive incorporates cavities for kōrua to call home and kete inspired ecological tiles—space for kai moana to flourish.
Tahitai works with a tight material palette to keep the design well-integrated and cohesive. The length of the project offers both variety and unity, giving constantly changing experiences while at the same time providing a coordinated edge along the waterfront. Level changes are explored in ways which add richness to the coastal landscape, and which place users in intriguing relationships with the landscape around them. At some points the user might be thrust out into the exhilarating space beyond the safety of the cycleway, and at other locations tucked back into a tussocky refuge.
The project harnesses the site’s opportunities, working with and around existing sculptures as focal points along the journey. Tahitai offers not just a safe walking and cycling route but also a series of destinations that add value and unlock additional potential of a popular coastal trail with honest and purposeful interventions.
Wellington City Council
Lisa Rimmer, Blair Brixton, Tim Cook, Wade Lipsham, Aaron Miller, James Pattullo, Dan Males, Sam Gwynn, Chelsea Kershaw, Scott Wigglesworth
WCC, Taranaki Whānui, Aecom, Calibre, Tonkin + Taylor, Jacobs, GHD