12 simple ways Auckland gets walking right

cities for people

We at Modacity recently spent five days in the beautiful city of Auckland, New Zealand, having been invited by Auckland Council to share some lessons from Vancouver’s recent implementation of an AAA (all ages and abilities) bike network, and how that crucial shift in strategy has broadened the type of people riding bicycles: including women, children, and seniors. While Auckland has much work to do in order to become a cycling city, we left thoroughly impressed at how pleasant, comfortable, and even delightful they had made the act of moving by foot. Despite paying endless lip service to pedestrians, many cities tend to neglect them, focusing on the sexier worlds of bikes, buses, and trains. In our view, Auckland is truly practicing the transport hierarchy they preach. So, without further ado, here are 12 simple ways Auckland gets walking right:

Chris Bruntlett is the co-founder of Modacity, a multi-service consultancy focused on inspiring healthier, happier, simpler forms of urban mobility through words, photography and film. You can find Chris on Twitter: @modacitylife.

All photos by Chris Bruntlett


The Cities For People features are a project between Spacing and Cities For People


  1. Wow amazing to see Auckland praised for walking – it must be bad elsewhere if that is the case. Auckland is one of the most auto dependent cities in the world – it makes LA look like a beginner in catering for one mode only.

    The city is a very hostile place for people walking or cycling though glacial progress is being made. Parking is a sacred cow and removing any parking meets howls of dismay from businesses and motorists. http://caa.org.nz/auckland-transport/parking-aucklands-sacred-cow/

    I guess it shows that a place can look very nice if you are just visiting. Here is a selection of posts that TransportBlog (the 3rd most read blog in New Zealand and by far the biggest on urban transport issues) has published about our terrible walking environment (and I haven’t included the many about the terrible cycling environment):


  2. Sure, walking has been prioritised in the centre of the city. But what about the rest of Auckland? Mentions of ‘shopping districts’, that I’m sure the majority of Aucklanders never visit. And it’s still cheaper to park in the city on weekends than it is to take public transport, at least if there are 2 or more of you (I’d like to see the cost of public transport go down, not parking go up).

    Loads of issues with pedestrians at intersections outside of the CBD – so many T intersections where you have to cross twice when you only should need to cross once, because there isn’t a crossing at the other side, though I suppose it is better than the horror stories one hears from the US.

    Ben’s comment above, and the analysis at Transport Blog, is a lot more comprehensive than my few complaints.

  3. you’ve got to be kididng me?? walking in auckland is an incredibly unpleasant experience. everywhere you go you’re surrounded by four lanes of traffic, gated parking garages, parking lots, etc. there’s no pleasant interface as a pedestrian. even on the waterfront you just get a big red fence. this city is beyond car-dependent. it’s pitiful.

    cars get the priority here even when you’re just trying to cross the street. how could authors from canada claim auckland gets walking right when in canada pedestrians are given the right of way, not cars. this in itself shows exactly what is prioritized in nz.

  4. Yep, Ben nails it. A lot of work to be done if pedestrians are to be truly the highest priority like the transport planning says.

    There should also be a couple of law changes around turning and giving way to pedestrians and cyclists.

  5. If anything sums up the attitude to walking it is the fact that Queen St retailllers campaigned against pedestrianising Queen St.

  6. I’ve lived in both Vancouver and Auckland for years, and I think this article accurately shows how much better it is to be on your own two feet in Auckland’s CBD compared to Vancouver’s downtown core. Vancouver’s lack of downtown walkability is a shocker. Yes cars are a little more slow and polite in Vancouver, but the built environment is considerably worse for pedestrians. At the end of the day, I’d love to see a comparison with a truly walkable city like Copenhagen.

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