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The beach loop, just one of many great ideas below (Image designs: Emma Maguire)
The beach loop, just one of many great ideas below (Image designs: Emma Maguire)

PoliticsApril 16, 2024

A series of alternative, equally ambitious, transport options for Wellington

The beach loop, just one of many great ideas below (Image designs: Emma Maguire)
The beach loop, just one of many great ideas below (Image designs: Emma Maguire)

You want to build a giant underground tunnel? Dream a little bigger.

On Monday, news broke that the government is investigating the prospect of a mega-tunnel, running from Wellington’s The Terrace to Kilbirnie, designed to reduce the car load on State Highway 1 and speed trips up by an astounding 15 minutes. 

In mid-2021, the concept of this mega-tunnel (colloquially: munnel) was posited in the now-dead Let’s Get Wellington Moving and subsequently ditched for being “eye-wateringly expensive”; but the new government’s keen on bringing it back. 

Now, I’m not here to write about the prohibitive cost, or the dangers of making the longest munnel ever built in New Zealand in a region with both earthquake and underground troubles, but instead, I’m going to encourage you to look further outside of the box. 

If we can spend a ludicrously large amount of money on a munnel instead of light rail or new Cook Strait ferries, just think of what we could do if we put that flair for innovation into other places.

Here’s a series of great new ideas for transport around Wellington. There are no problems or dangers with any of them. At all. 

Cook Strait monorail

Due to the new government’s decline of funding to improve the Interislander (and buy more ferries), travel across the Cook Strait could soon be in jeopardy. However, I reckon we should ditch any kind of ships for the future and go for a Cook Strait monorail.

Now, some of you might be thinking “this is a terrible idea, the Cook Strait is one of the roughest water crossings in the world, you can’t run a monorail over it, it will fall off and people will perish” — and to that, I say: “You’re just not thinking big enough.”

Small ideas are antithetical to business innovation. We have to go bold or go home. With a Cook Strait monorail, we have a fast and scenic way to cross the Cook Strait. It has none of the problems of the ferries, and it can’t capsize in high tides. Sure, it’ll be some effort to run a monorail across a piece of water that large, but we’ll get a lot of tourism from it. 

Highway to the Waves

I love the Cook Strait ferries. I think they’re fun, I think they, for the most part, are pretty nice, and they’re a scenic way to get across the Cook Strait; excluding the bit that they’re allegedly “not fit for purpose” any more. 

They are, however, pretty dang slow — clocking in at a max speed of 40km an hour. A good 40 minutes of the (average) 3.5 hour long journey involves coasting out of Wellington Harbour. So, let’s remove that 40 minutes.

“Four lanes to the planes”? More like “four lanes to the waves”.

Wouldn’t it be better if State Highway 1 didn’t curve off towards the east, and instead continued straight down to the South Coast? Build a ferry terminal off  Ōwhiro Bay, and start the ferries off without losing a third of the journey to motoring out of the harbour.

It’s basically a straight line, and I see no problems arising from this at all. Our port isn’t situated within the relative shelter of Wellington Harbour for a reason, or anything, and I’m certain the residents of Brooklyn, Happy Valley and Ōwhiro Bay will be fine with bowling their houses in the name of progress.

That’s what business is, right? Progress.

And we need to progress down to the South Island.

Mt Vic slide

You know those big wide metal slides? Imagine one of those here.

Ever walked up Mount Vic, had a squiz at the views and then thought, “hey, my knees are not going to survive the walk down”?

Well, I have an idea for you. Running approximately a kilometre, this slide would get you from Mount Vic Lookout to Courtenay Place in 17 seconds. Talk about rapid transit.

Yes, travelling 52.4 metres a second is the approximate speed of a small aviation plane, but that’s only the top speed the slide could get to, and I’m sure Aotearoa’s best and brightest could make something like this work.

And just think — during Pōneke’s wettest days, it would become a waterslide! I foresee no problems here.

East-west submarine

An underutilised form of transport in Wellington is the east-west ferry, which is a shame. Why be trapped in a bus to Eastbourne when you could not be? The ferry is fast(ish), condensing a trip that’s usually an hour and a half into about 30 minutes.

Plus, it’s got scenic views, a bar and toilets — and you also don’t have to travel through Thorndon. However, it is a service that gets cancelled frequently — due to high tides or unpleasant conditions.

So, what if we don’t go over the waves… we go under them.

There are tourist submarines available on the market, and subs aren’t affected by high swell. A tourist submarine could make the trip between Queens Wharf, Seatoun, Days Bay, Matiu/Somes Island and Petone in just over an hour — and would never be interrupted by Wellington’s frequent bad weather.

Chuck a bar and some bathrooms with some comfy seating in there and you’ve got yourself the world’s first commuter submarine. What could go wrong? Nothing. Nothing could go wrong. 

please just anything that connects Upper Hutt with Porirua that isn’t a car please I beg of you this trip is hell 

Want a munnel? Here’s a place for one. Drill a big tunnel under the Haywards. Connect Melling with Porirua via Kelson, Manor Park, Whitby, and Paremata. 

Do it, I dare you. 

Or, Metlink could just yeet a bus across Haywards Road, but that’s an unexciting way to deal with something that is genuinely a problem.

Sir Peter Jackson’s trebuchet

Not true to scale

Sir Peter Jackson’s well on his way to buying up most of Wellington, it seems. With over 20 residential properties, as well as the newly-acquired Shelly Bay, it seems nothing is too big for the world-renowned film director.

Now, I know this is a radical idea, but what if there was a huge trebuchet from Rivendell (in Kaitoke Regional Park) to Shelly Bay? With cars of 15+ people, it could fly you from one of Wellington’s best known film locations to Shelly Bay (one of Sir Peter Jackson’s favourite locations) at a speed of-

Well, those physics are a little bit harder than I can do without the knowledge of certain variables, but let’s just say — it’d be fast. I can think of no problems with this! No issues with health or safety or flight paths or anything.

It’d benefit the film industry, it’d benefit tourism, it would absolutely fuck with people who are stoned — all of these are benefits!

We are cooking with gas, fellas. This business presentation is going so well.


I don’t know, my mate gave me this idea, but I reckon it’s got legs.

Beach loop bus

Ever wanted to be on a bus for nearly four hours and not leave the region? Well, have I got a proposal for you. Enter the BEACH LOOP bus.

From Waikanae to Eastbourne, via Waikanae Beach, Paraparaumu Beach, Raumati Beach, Paekakariki, Pukerua Bay, Plimmerton, Paremata, Porirua, Johnsonville, Mākara Beach, Aro Valley, Owhiro Bay, Island Bay, Houghton Bay, Lyall Bay, Moa Point, Breaker Bay, Seatoun, Karaka Bay, Scorching Bay, Massey Memorial, Shelly Bay, Kilbirnie, Evans Bay, Hataitai Beach, Kio Bay, Weka Bay, Balaena Bay, Little Karaka Bay, Oriental Parade, Jervois Quay, the Bus Station, Kaiwharawhara, Ngauranga, Petone, Petone East, Point Howard, Lowry Bay, York Bay, Mahana Bay, Sunshine Bay and Days Bay.

More than 50 stops, depending on placement. Nearly four hours. 160km. Is it worth it in winter? Hell no!

But in summer… we could be looking at a sweet business deal. A lot of these beaches aren’t served by a bus currently, so we could see them thrive! One day I will be able to take the bus to Mākara. One day…

A Hutt-airport bus service

I know, wild thought, ae. It could run every 20 minutes, stopping at the bigger stops along the route, and servicing both the central city and the Hutt for airline passengers going further afield.

It could reduce strain on the 83 — a bus that’s chocka every time I’ve used it. It could encourage sustainable travel between the airport and parliament for politicians commuting.

It could have comfy seats and wifi… and maybe we could even paint it a bright colour so tourists would easily recognise it! Maybe something like… orange.

Please come back

Light rail

Bear with me now. 

Light rail ties cities together, has high transport capability, is faster than being stuck in traffic and most importantly, gets cars off the road, rather than just diverting them under it. It could be new and innovative and modern, instead of throwing the same idea at the wall for 20 years and hoping it sticks.

But no, I think, out of all of my big thinking and out of the box ideas in this article, this one’s got to be the least plausible. 

Keep going!