A Proposal for an Aerial Gondola linking Wainuiomata to Days Bay

5 12 2011

Wainuiomata has about 16,800 residents. It’s a distinct suburb/town of Hutt City in the Greater Wellington metro area. It takes about 60 minutes to get from Wainuiomata to Central Wellington on a bus which has to go over the Wainuiomata Hill Road (which operates only in the peak, otherwise a bus goes as far as Lower Hutt and you can change for the train at Waterloo). Yet it only takes 20 minutes on the Days Bay Ferry from Days Bay to Wellington and Days Bay is just the other side of the hill from Wainuiomata.

The Eastern Harbour Regional Park  owned by the GWRC lies between Days Bay and Wainui.

It’s the perfect place for an aerial gondola. I propose 3 stations over an approximately 4.5km route. One in the park near the Days Bay jetty. One near the intersection of Main Road, Fitzherbert St, and the Wainuiomata Road, just south of the main set of shops and one near a lookout on the Main Ridge Track (which would only be used in daylight hours, and supports people out for a walk).

The Wainuiomata station site is in the park shown below and the cable would go up to a tower on the ridge. There are only a very few houses (maybe only a couple that would be inconvenienced by over-flying. If they are upset buy the house at a good price and then sell it again to people who don’t mind being overflown for not much of a price difference)

Despite being surrounded by hills the floor of the valley is flat. So build lots of secure bike parking by the station. Everywhere in Wainui is only at most 15 minutes bike ride from the station. So to get to Wellington ride your bike to the station, hop straight on an aerial gondola without much of a wait and fly over the hill, wait for the ferry and 20 minutes later you’re in Wellington. With a few hundred people commuting from Wainui this way each day then it would be economic to up the frequency of the ferry, which is currently every 30 minutes in the peaks. Total journey time could be as low as half the bus commute time.

For those thinking that an aerial gondola is incompatible with the ethos of a public park I suggest they examine the Cairns SkyRail (see my guest post on the Gondola Project).

This could be a success if there is integrated ticketing and the combined ferry and aerial gondola trip is price competitive with the bus.

The gondola cabins chosen could seat between 4 and 10 people, and could accommodate bicycles and wheelchairs, depending on the design chosen.

The view down to Days Bay:

The view down to Wainui:

Maybe the Days Bay terminal would look a little like this (nicked from here):

The cost I guess would be in a low number of million dollars (20 perhaps?). I have no idea really. There’s nearly 17,000 people in the valley, a few more in Days Bay and Eastbourne (who could do their shopping at the Wainui shops instead of going into Lower Hutt) and the running costs would be a lot less than maintaining and staffing the fleet of buses. It’d also draw a few tourists out for the day and a few more hiking in the park. I think it a good idea worthy of more investigation. Certainly functional, useful, modern public transport is a better thing to spend public money on rather than the steam train proposal for the Rimutaka Incline or the White Elephant Motorway.

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13 responses

5 12 2011
The other Wainuiomata gondola proposal « Wellington Region Cycleways

[…] know about the other proposal for a Wanuiomata Hill gondola when I wrote my post last night. My proposal is better as the one in the Hutt City document is a tourist gondola to the top of the Wainuiomata […]

6 12 2011
hmmm

I seriously doubt the folks in Eastbourne would do their shopping in Wainui, the so called ‘mall’ over there is a dump, and whilst the nui has access to great areas like coast road, rimutaka forest park etc the suburb itself is also mostly a dump with a pocket of niceness here and there. Spruce the place up before even thinking about a Gondola.

6 12 2011
Matthew

That’s a bit harsh and it would perhaps act as a catalyst for sprucing it all up.

There’s only a 4 Square in Eastbourne. There’s a real supermarket in Wainui. I imagine it’d be a relaxing way to do your shopping.

6 12 2011
hmmm

You’d also be surprised at the many people who do their shopping at the 4 square, the local butcher, deli etc however, many just head to Petone.
Anyway, the Gondola could act as a catalyst but having lived in both Wainui and currently in Eastbourne, the two suburbs are fairly far apart when it comes to wealth, crime etc hell, a few years ago there were a few state houses at the very end of Eastbourne and some folks here complained because the houses “Didn’t look good enough for Eastbourne” that’s the kind of thinking that goes on, and if connected to Wainui, there will no doubt be all these complaints and nimbys who will freak out that crime from Wainui would seep into Eastbourne. I’m not against the Gondola idea, I think it’ll rock personally, I could just picture the Days Bay station next to the duck pond and the pavilion, but the red tape from these people will be enormous, these are the folks who got truck drivers banned for parking up in the old marina in Lowry Bay because a couple of trucks were “unsightly”

6 12 2011
Matthew

Yeah I know there is a difference in the character of the two communities, but sometimes it is worth kicking the comfortable up the arse and remind them that we’re all in this together.

I think getting the nimby snobs all a-twitter would be hugely hilarious.

8 12 2011
Blair

Theres no more or less crime in Wainui than any other area of Lower Hutt. In fact, Eastbourne has had its share of “less than desirable” characterss. It takes longer for Police to get to Eastbourne than Wainui which makes it appealing to the burglery folk. Its about time that Lower Hutt stood as one voice for the benefit of the whole city rather than these pockets of people who have one eyed views regarding “their” neighbourhood. Surely, the benefits for the entire city outweigh the need for biggotted opinion.

8 12 2011
Matthew

Blair,
I’ve seen the argument trotted out before in Adelaide where the “good people” of Walkerville protested a bikeway that was leading to less affluent suburbs. (All those burglars were going to come by bike apparently.) There the bikeway did improve everyone’s lives, rich and poor alike if they got on their bikes. Similarly my proposal would benefit both places, and I think Greater Wellington as a whole.

8 12 2011
Blair

I have been on the Kuranda Gondala…they call it the Skyrail. Either way…its absolutely fantastic. 45 mins from the base just outside Cairns to Kuranda. It was brillant. Kuranda has all sorts of shops to visit as well as the Butterfly Sanctuary. Fantasic and well worth the time. Both Wainui and Eastbourne will have to add attractions of some sort. And not just a cafe…theres only some much coffee a person can drink..but something that really stands out. Wainui could do something with Kiwi, hilighting the success the reintroduction program is having. Maybe like a darkhouse for kiwi veiwing…not many people get to see kiwi, so theres a thought.

8 12 2011
Matthew

I like that idea, Blair. We should get these ideas into the consultations on the Hutt City plan.

15 02 2012
Wellington Region Updates « Wellington Region Cycleways

[…] updated my post on a Days Bay to Wainuiomata gondola by tramping the route and taking some nice […]

28 11 2013
Fraser

A great idea! But I would be concerned about the issue of wind. Having spent a lot of time on Mt Ruapehu where lifts are closed to high wind frequently I am sure that such a gondola would be affected similarly given the high winds we experience here.

20 04 2016
lynda

Would boost Wainui, great idea

10 08 2016
Berenice

Keep tyis going please, great job!

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