Sevens / Waitangi Weekend Road Closures Approach

26 January 2011

A huge weekend in Wellington is approaching - from Thursday 3 February right through to Sunday 6 February (Waitangi Day). The capital hosts the NZI Sevens, a final salute to the VELUX 5 Oceans yacht race competitors and Waitangi Day celebrations including the opening of the much-anticipated Wharewaka o Poneke.

Wellington City Council's City Events Manager, Lauren Fantham, says this means several things for Wellingtonians - the chance to party, celebrate our national day in style and enjoy the waterfront in all its bustling splendour.

"It also means a lot of road closures will be in place over that weekend to facilitate it all. We do this to enhance people's experience of these events, but it's mostly in the interest of safety," says Lauren.

Starting on Thursday 3 February, the annual NZI Sevens Parade leaves from Ballance Street at 12.45pm and winds its way along Lambton Quay, Willis Street and Mercer Street before finishing at Civic Square. Motorists should only be affected for about an hour that afternoon, but it's best to avoid driving in the area if at all possible during that time.

Courtenay Place will as usual be transformed into the NZI Sevens Street Party on the following Saturday night (5 February). Road closures will be more extensive than in previous years - some of the several safety and logistics-related measures the Council is trialling in the lead-up to Rugby World Cup 2011. There will be no entry for motorists to Courtenay Place and some surrounding streets like Blair, Allen and Tory streets from 5.00pm that evening until 6.00am the next morning (Sunday 6 February). From 9.00pm that evening, the closure will take on a wider scale, including parts of Taranaki, Dixon and Manners streets. Those closures will be in place until 6.00am the next morning as well.

Lauren says both ends of Courtenay Place will be blocked to pedestrians from 9.00pm to 12 midnight. Access to Courtenay Place will be via Tory Street during this time.

"Again, this is just in the interest of safety for those enjoying the Sevens party. Also, the road closure at the Taranaki Street end of Courtenay Place removes the problem of a potentially unsafe mixture of people and alcohol, and cars, at the busiest time," says Lauren.

Lauren would like to remind Sevens revellers that the 24-hour alcohol ban will remain in place throughout the weekend, and that there are plenty of establishments in the area where people can be served alcohol if they wish. Courtenay Place will be free of BYO-alcohol and glass. Consent has been given to some restaurants and bars in the area to place extra seating outside, to help create a great atmosphere.

The traffic closure includes buses and taxis. To compensate for this, there'll be extended bus stops on Wakefield and Ghuznee streets, and temporary taxi stands on Wakefield Street between Blair, Allen and Tory streets and on Cambridge Terrace between Courtenay Place and Alpha Street. For information on buses, go to the Metlink website.

Lauren says that while there are no road closures on Waitangi Day (Sunday 6 February), it would pay to avoid the waterfront area if you're driving through the city.

"There'll be lots of people in the area which could result in heavy traffic on the day in the waterfront/Jervois Quay area. And if you're going to the Waitangi Day celebrations - which will no doubt be fantastic - try and use public transport or walk. There'll be very little parking space available in the area."