Expect Traffic Delays Over Cuba St Carnival Weekend

2 February 2009

Now in its 10th year, Cuba St Carnival has never been bigger, which is why extensive road closures are planned throughout the central city from 20 - 22 February.

And not only that - the National Harley Davidson Hog Rally, consisting of up to 1,500 bikers, will be congregating on Frank Kitts Park the same day as the Carnival - Saturday 21 February.

Wellington City Council's Events Manager, John Dawson, says that anyone heading to the city centre over that weekend should avoid bringing their car in and use public transport if they can.

"A number of central city streets will be closed to traffic, and the vast majority of parking spaces will be used up by the thousands of people involved in the Carnival," says John.

"As well as that, we urge anyone who needs to drive across the city over the weekend to avoid the central city and use the motorway and bypass route instead. Anyone coming in from the north and intending to go to the airport via Jervois Quay, for example, could face delays," he adds.

While the food and market stalls, music stages and street performers are entertaining the masses along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place on Saturday 21 February, bikers will also be rallying around Customhouse and Jervois quays that same afternoon. All southbound, seaward side lanes of Customhouse and Jervois quays, between Whitmore Street and Harris Street, will be closed to traffic from 12 noon to 5.30pm. Traffic going south will be diverted through Whitmore and Featherston streets to Harris and Wakefield streets. Northbound traffic will be as normal.

All the roads needed for the Cuba St Carnival will be closed in a staggered fashion, according to demand. All roads will be fully operational by 6.00am on Sunday 22 February. First up for closure is Swan Lane, which will be closed from 1.00am on Friday 20 February until 6.00am on the Sunday morning. Cuba St Carnival is bringing a big screen to Swan Lane car park to screen the classic Some Like it Hot (PG) at 9.00pm on Friday 20 February.

Cuba Street (from Vivian Street to Dixon Street) and Garrett and Bute streets will be closed from 6.00pm on Friday 20 February until 6.00am the following Sunday morning. From 9.00pm on the Friday night, the following roads will be closed until 6.00am on the Sunday morning: Ghuznee, Dixon, Manners, the rest of Cuba, Marion, Leeds, Eva, Egmont, Tory, Blair and Allen streets; Inglewood Place, Lukes and Furness lanes and Courtenay Place.

The Meridian Illuminated Night Parade will start at 9.00pm on the Saturday at Cambridge Terrace, go along Courtenay Place, on to Taranaki and Ghuznee streets to finish up at Victoria Street. To accommodate this, the left-hand lane of Cambridge Terrace, Alpha and Tennyson streets and the east side slip lanes of Victoria Street will be closed from 10.00am until midnight that day. Taranaki Street will be closed from 6.00pm on the Saturday until 3.00am the following morning.

John says it's a good thing the city is so compact and able to deal with such closures with relative ease. "Many people will walk into town anyway - especially if it's a fine day. And while there will be some traffic delays around the city, public transport providers will do everything they can to ensure as many people can come along to enjoy the festivities as possible."

Alternative bus routes will be in place throughout the weekend. Buses coming into town from the north, and the Railway Station, will continue along Victoria Street - avoiding Cuba Street - go on to Vivian Street and Cambridge Terrace before carrying on their normal route. Any buses that terminate in the city centre will stop at Wakefield Street.

Buses coming from the south will be diverted round the Basin Reserve, on to Buckle and Arthur streets, Karo Drive, Willis Street and on to Lambton Quay to continue on their normal route. All buses that terminate and leave from Courtenay Place will do the same from Wakefield Street by the Reading Cinemas. There are exceptions, so check out the Metlink website or call 0800 801 700 for more detailed information. Signs will also be in place at bus stops city-wide.

John suggests that if anyone is bringing young children along to the Carnival, they put their name and mobile number on a band around their child's wrist. Bands will be available from the Capital E Kidzone in Glover Park and other locations. If you have lost a child - or found a lost child - make your way to the nearest First Aid base or talk to any of the Carnival staff or security.

First Aid bases will be located behind the bungy jump on Taranaki Street, on the corner of Tory Street and Courtenay Place and at Glover Park. Anyone who needs medical assistance should get along to one of the bases or ask any of the carnival staff or security. It is also a good idea to have details of any medical conditions or prescription drugs on you.

"Most Wellingtonians should by now be aware of the 24-hour liquor ban throughout the central city, and this still applies on the day of Carnival," John says.

"There are plenty of bars the length and breadth of Cuba Street and Courtenay Place and alcohol will be served in some restricted areas. Make sure you have ID if you're fortunate enough to look under 25.

"And we can't stress this enough - if you're coming into the city centre that weekend, please avoid bringing your car in if possible. Of course, the city's hospitality and retail businesses will be operating as usual throughout the weekend. Everything will be as normal - except for the giant festival taking over Courtenay and Cuba quarters, hundreds of bikers in Frank Kitts Park and many of the roads closed to traffic."

So come to Cuba Street on the morning of 21 February equipped with sunblock, clothes for all weather, your ID, wristbands for your children, enough cash and perhaps a costume for what is going to be the city's biggest party of the year. Just don't bring your car.

If you have questions about anything to do with Cuba St Carnival in the run-up to the day, check out the Cuba St Carnival website or give the Cuba St Carnival office a call on (04) 801 9390. Cuba St Carnival staff won't be near their phones on the day of the Carnival so call the City Council on (04) 499 4444 if you need any information on the day.