Need a second international City
Statistics New Zealand are reporting that due to continued high immigration and high birth rates (looks like we are above the population replacement rate of 2.3) New Zealand is due to hit five million people by 2020. Auckland on current projections would probably hit 1.8 million with the two million mark reached by 2025 (some seven years ahead of what the Auckland Plan had projected).
Five million means we are still a small nation compared to others of similar physical geographic size but that does not mean we should turn off the tap to more people nor should we be bundling everything into Auckland solely.
Auckland at the moment is our sole international City that can compete with others in the Pacific Rim. However, Christchurch should also be nurtured to allow it to become our second international City so New Zealand as a whole is in a better position in competing with other Pacific nations. Given the Government is looking at dropping a cool $125 billion on infrastructure over the next ten years the time to set Auckland and Christchurch up properly with the regions supporting both Cities would be about NOW.
And by infrastructure I do mean things like rail (especially freight and inter-city rail), water reticulation and sewerage treatment, civic infrastructure, power stations, ports and most of all adequate housing. Not motorways, not East West Link truck-ways I mean productive infrastructure assets as the population surges towards five million.
Typically development will follow rail connections between two points whether it be residential or industry before following something like a motorway or expressway. Why? Despite what some might think about driverless cars, trucks and busses (we already have driverless trains as a technology) rail is still and will always be the most efficient form of moving the most amount of people and goods over land in medium to long distance runs (coastal shipping is the most efficient form of moving goods overall so should not be forgotten). The rail efficiency applies even more as populations grow and the road space is incapable of handling the increased loads from cars and trucks (you can not build your way out of congestion by just building roads).
So with that $125b and five million people coming I would be seriously looking at where is Point A and Point B, link them up with rail (or upgrade the rail links), build intermediary points long the rail link as development follows that link and away we go without getting stuck on a highway.
With coastal shipping this is where inter-modal transport kicks in moving goods between Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch. The rail links up with the ports from the urban centres while the ports and ships link each other. Your trucks then form the “last mile” gap in getting the goods to their destinations.
Can the Government get it right as we approach five million? Hmm I wonder.