Closing a main street opens new possibilities for reconnecting Wānaka’s community with its scenic landscape
With easy access to mountain and lake recreation, it’s no wonder Wānaka became a popular resort town. But, popularity, and the growth it spurs, can undermine the original appeal of a town. Unprecedented growth in Wānaka resulted in fragmented development, poor land use, and substandard transport outcomes, putting the town’s unique characteristics under pressure. For example, a main arterial road severed the town’s centre from its scenic lakefront.
Wanting solutions that would enhance the character and quality of life in the town, the Council sought our expertise. Their directive to us was irresistible—be bold! So—we closed the main road. A four-day closure let us test how the community and transport network would respond to transformational change. It provided the community with a sense of how the space could be used, reconnecting their town centre with the lakefront, activating streets and public spaces, and improving movement by all modes.
In partnership with architectural consultants, Jasmax, we developed a masterplan (addressing urban design strategies) and a programme of transport investments for Wānaka. We worked closely with mana whenua (indigenous land rights group) to integrate mātauranga Māori (knowledge, wisdom) into the outcomes. With survey outcomes, test data, and an actionable masterplan, the Council is confident their town will become even more popular.
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