Welcome to Emerging Auckland


I am the developer of Emerging Auckland which I have created out of a genuine passion for Auckland, a love of urban exploration, of urban design, architecture, photography and construction, all combined with eager excitement for what lies ahead for our city over the coming decade.


By day I work for on the City Rail Link Project.  I am very proud to work for a new and progressive business and with a team of people who are passionate about, and dedicated to helping improve our city.


Auckland made a huge impression on me as a teenager arriving for the first time from provincial New Zealand in the late eighties.  Compared to Napier, Auckland was the big smoke, the real deal. At that time youthful antics on Friday nights transformed Queen Street from a shopping strip to a drag strip, where muscle cars lined the roads bumper to bumper up to the domain. Thinking back to those days, Auckland city was very different, unlike today, only two real cafes existed, if I recall the original Melba in Vulcan Lane and DKD behind the Civic Theatre, not far from the ‘all you could eat’ Hare Krishna Restaurant, where the Metro Centre is today. K’Road really was a red light district, an eye opening extravaganza of hedonism and debauchery set amongst the pink empire of Rainton Hastie.  Kingsland, Grey Lynn and Herne Bay were party zones, ruled by the flatting class, indies, Goths, artists and alternatives of every persuasion. Ponsonby Road was dusting itself off to the middle classes, previously home to a vibrant Polynesian community.


Auckland was pretty cool at the time, Saturday mornings were spent at Real Groovy Records before heading to High Street, the domain of hipsters. In 1990 High Street was also the destination for nightlife with the popular Box Nightclub, Alfies and very trendy Cause Celebre, home to the jazz, soul and funk scene. Along the road you had the uber-cool de Brett’s Corner Bar and House Bar.  Not too far away, the foyer to the luxury Regent Hotel (now Stamford) was home to the camp piano antics of the legendry Billy Farnell, New Zealand’s own Liberace and a short distance further, along Fanshawe Street, up inside the now resurrected Kauri Timber Co Building, the dark and mysterious Attica Bar existed for the Goths (and unwashed). Mid city, remnants of the failed Chase Corporation ‘Chase Plaza’ remained, only two years earlier home to the glitzy ‘Candios’ nightclub and Margaritas, staples of the late 80’s youth culture.

By no means a hipster, in 1992 I shared a flat above the Rare Bookshop at No.6 High Street. Inner city living was a rarity back then, so much so that you could park your car on the street immediately outside the flat, there were no parking charges. Outside of night time, the City was a sobering place to be, there wasn’t much of anything, certainly no real means of reliable public transport and come 5.00pm on any given week day mass exodus occurred as the employed departed for suburbia and the Auckland City Centre became abandoned to the bohemian crowd and serial drinkers.


On weekends, living in City was relatively lonely until dark approached again when the youth of the day flooded back in for another great night. If you happened to live in the City, you were the business! How that veranda stayed hanging outside No.6 I’m not sure, it was the stage for many a party.

Auckland 1988

Like many of my generation, I quickly out grew what Auckland had to offer at the time and left during my early twenties for an intended OE of two years; quickly becoming lost in the cultural Metropolis of London for eight. Eventually, responsibility and home beckoned but for an urbanite, leaving a city like London was a hard choice and my reluctant return to Auckland in 2000 proved a major anticlimax as I ‘reintegrated’ myself into a city that was, essentially, still a big town. A beautiful town, certainly improved since 1992 but still lacking any real sense of identity for me. A meander from one end of Queen Street to the other, or a stroll along Ponsonby Road and you pretty much had the city covered, nowhere to get lost.

The rear of the former Central Post Office Building from Britomart in 2000

Britomart 2000

The following decade saw Auckland City meander along, slowly until the early 2000’s where good direction and leadership of the day initiated the redevelopment of the redundant Central Post Office to establish the Britomart Transport Centre, replacing the stale, uninviting Municipal Britomart of old. I consider that development alone was a major catalyst for change, creating a sense that finally Auckland, ‘the big town’ was becoming a real City. This was further perpetuated by significant foresight to improve and upgrade the rail network and the superb and still ongoing redevelopment by Cooper & Co of the Britomart Precinct to create an alluring destination and model for urbanism. The redevelopment of Queen Street and Aotea Square quickly followed.

Fort Street 2000

DKD Cafe behind the Civic Theatre - late 1990's

During the later part of the 2000’s the vision led by Sea+City for a redeveloped ‘Tank Farm’ started to gain traction and by 2010 following creation of the ‘SuperCity’ the stage was set for the first tranche of the city shaping transformational projects we enjoy today. The private development by Kiwi Income Property Trust of the ASB North Wharf Building, and civic led developments of the North Wharf Promenade, Silo Park, and creation of the modern and inviting urban environment we now know as ‘Wynyard Quarter’ started to move Auckland forward towards the premier league.


Since RWC 2011 Auckland has continued to emerge and transform itself into an even more exciting and great place to dwell…and what’s more, Auckland city keeps getting better and better!


Fortunately, throughout this transformation period of Auckland’s evolution I maintained a private development tracker and managed to capture much of the construction progress through the lens (albeit somewhat crudely from time to time), but particularly more recently the development of Wynyard Quarter, the Aotea Square redevelopment, Victoria Park Tunnel Project including the engineering feat of the Rob Roy Hotel relocation; as well as many private developments and other civic infrastructure projects.


During the latter part of 2015 I waded through literally thousands of photos and created a series of photo galleries, now incorporated into Emerging Auckland and showcasing the best of these projects as well as various aspects of the city. I have also reinterpreted my private development tracker into a more concise version that forms the basis for Emerging Auckland, presented as a searchable database and map.


To record progress as Auckland enters a new period of intense development from now through to around 2023, I have created three development trackers, one for current private projects, one for civic led infrastructure projects, and one that showcases projects on completion including those already completed which I consider to the best of the most recent developments over the past few years. Each and every new development has its own unique photo gallery which will be regularly updated to track the evolution of each development from inception through to completion. I have included architectural renders with each gallery where possible, credit of which goes to the architects and designers.


The real intent of Emerging Auckland is to bring together all of the significant city shaping developments planned and underway within the city and provide some visual context to a period in our history that will ultimately lead to the transformation of Auckland well beyond how we see it today, certainly well beyond how I saw the city in 1992.


Perhaps the most significant project before us is the City Rail Link. I consider myself to be very fortunate to be part of an exciting, city shaping project. I hope to be able to provide some insight into CRL construction through Emerging Auckland as the project advances.


While I won’t pretend to suggest that every new development will be transformational, Emerging Auckland is not here to critique or judge any particular development or anyone party to that development, the intent of the site is simply to record current and upcoming developments across Auckland City Centre and the city fringes through one consolidated and visual medium, for everyone to enjoy.


In my opinion, these are very exciting times for Auckland, not everyone will be excited and the scale and complexity of development will at times produce frustration, inconvenience and disruption but the ‘end product’ produces more accommodation, improved options for public transport and a greatly improved urban environment. The worlds most liveable city…we will have to wait and see.


I hope this website will provide you with helpful insight into our ‘Emerging Auckland’ and act as a point of reference with development progress within the Auckland City Centre.




Brett Robertson

Images courtesy Sir George Grey Special Collections; DKD Cafe courtesy of Derek Townsend. Auckland in 1989 image below thanks to Edward.


Emerging Auckland is a Development Tracker - documenting, tracking  progress and 'showcasing' current and planned private construction and civic infrastructure developments within 'inner Auckland', New Zealand.


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