12.08.08 17:44 Age: 10 yrs

ACC 'exploring options' for visitor centre & transport on Mt Eden

By: Ian Fish

ACC are currently exploring options for a visitor centre and transport on the cone. The aim is to improve visitor experiences to Maungawhau-Mt Eden, while protecting the integrity of the cone.

The Council has considered 3 options for the Visitor's Centre: 

  • a new building at Tahaki Reserve west, accessed directly off Mt Eden Road and built up against the former quarry face.
  • a new building adjacent to the roundabout at the intersection of Puhi Huia Road and Clive Road.
  • a refurbished Langton's tea kiosk on the western side of Puhi Huia Road.

A number of different  transport optiond have also been considered. These include:

  • Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)
  • gondola
  • mono-rail
  • electric bus
  • light-weight electric vehicle
  • walking only

In light of regional uncertainty around governance and treaty issues, as well as the high cost of implementing the previously preferred option (of a purpose built visitor centre in Tahaki Reserve West, as set out in the Council's own Management Plan of 2007), the council is now proposing to implement the former Langtons Tea Kiosk option. This option includes a cafe operation and visitor information centre located in a refurbished heritage tea kiosk building (known as Langtons).

At their April 2008 meeting, the Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee asked officers to investigate a public-private partnership for the development that reduces cost to council of the refurbishment of the existing building.

The committee also asked officers to look at alternatives to the heavy vehicles currently using the summit road such as shuttle buses from the tea kiosk that can be provided on a user-pays basis.

Officers are now continuing the development of this option and will report back to the committee with refined design and cost estimates in August 2008.

The Friends of Maungawhau have concerns with the Langton's proposal, it is against the Management Plan intent of developing a Visitor's Centre - "The visitor experience should be authentic, and true to the site's heritage values" and "The heritage values of the existing Spanish mission style building (Langton's) limit opportunities for the incorporation of Maori architecture".

The Langton's proposal includes a cafe of 145m2 (+ additional outdoor space) while the Visitor's Centre consists of an area of 40m2. This would make Langton's primarily a commercial operation, not educational as per the Management Plan.

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