Nelson Street Cycleway - Te Ara I Whiti (Light Path) Hero

Nelson Street Cycleway - Te Ara I Whiti (Light Path)

The spectacular Nelson Street Cycleway and Canada Street Cycle Bridge located in the midst of the Central Motorway Junction in Auckland, the country’s busiest and most complicated section of highway.


The Nelson Street Cycleway was built to form part of the cycle network in Auckland, connecting the shared off-road pedestrian and cycling path on Upper Queen Street to the waterfront at Quay Street.
The cycleway is a mixture of shared pedestrian and cycling paths and two-way, on-road cycle lanes separated from the general traffic by raised buffer islands. The network of cycle ways is being delivered in partnership by the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport.

'Distinctly New Zealand look'
The design was developed following a Shape Auckland survey, held in June 2015, in which participants  called for the cycleway to be modern and have a ‘distinctly New Zealand’ look. It includes LED lights, which line the safety barriers and pulse as people pass them, as well as a strong magenta surface colour that fades out  at both ends into a Māori design.

What we did:

The project consists of 1 km of infrastructure for walking and cycling. Hawkins’ scope of work involved:

  • widening of the Canada Street footpath
  • construction of an elevated steel bridge from Canada Street leading to a new 160 m steel orthotropic bridge crossing SH1
  • an upgrade of the old Nelson Street off-ramp including installation of pedestrian/debris screens along the length of the ramp
  • lighting and pavement works
  • upgrades of the both the Nelson/Union and Hobson/Union street intersections
  • On Canada Mall sections of precast retaining wall at the eastern and western ends were constructed on the exposed slope, with new fencing, lighting and signage installed. The existing kerb line was replaced, the intersection reconfigured and new traffic signalling and software installed.

Unique Challenges:

The project location introduced construction and design complexities that required careful monitoring of Health and Safety while working at heights, and detailed traffic management to avoid affecting the motorway during the day.

This all demanded innovative thinking, high level collaboration amongst consultants and stakeholders, and cutting edge structural analysis and design expertise of an extremely complex 3-D structure. An enduring solution driven attitude was essential due to tight programme and design changes, and retrofitting the old into new infrastructure, to deliver an active transport link for Auckland.


The Outcome:

This initiative has received considerable local and international acclaim, setting a benchmark for future cycling facilities. To date this is the only triangular shaped orthotropic curved bridge and perhaps the only magenta coloured surface cycleway in the world. Interactive lights, Māori carvings and a vibrant magenta surface have turned the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp into a must-see Auckland attraction for people to walk and cycle across.