Auckland America Cup Base Options – Which Ones Should Councillors Go With (And Cue Infighting)

I like option one


The five options for where the America’s Cup bases should be held. Cue political infighting for the next wee while but in the meantime let’s take a look from the options.

From Our Auckland:

Five base options proposed for America’s Cup

Published: 13 November 2017

Auckland Council’s Governing Body will next week be asked to approve a team base location for hosting the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.

On 13 November, councillors were presented with five infrastructure options for hosting the event, which will add between $550 million and $1 billion* in direct benefits to the New Zealand economy.

Decision required by 23 November

Auckland Council Chief Executive Stephen Town says a decision on a location is required at the Governing Body meeting on 23 November to allow for resource consent to be lodged in January.

“The main America’s Cup races are likely to be held from January to March 2021, so to meet the event’s timeframes and the anticipated arrival of syndicates, construction needs to be substantially complete by mid to late 2019,” he says.

Council, government, Emirates Team New Zealand work on requirements

Since Emirates Team New Zealand’s (ETNZ) victory in the America’s Cup in late June, the council has been working closely with the government and ETNZ on the infrastructure requirements to deliver the 2021 event.

Panuku Development Auckland, the city’s regeneration agency, has led this work and its Design and Place Director Rod Marler says technical experts have undertaken a robust evaluation of a longlist of possible locations across the Auckland region.

“The locations have been evaluated based on three key criteria: ability to deliver in the timeframe (consented and constructed by late 2019), ability to meet the requirements of the teams and event (such as security and an event village), and the extent to which any investment delivers a legacy for Auckland and New Zealand,” says Marler.

The five short-listed options are

  • Halsey Wharf extension
  • Captain Cook West
  • Captain Cook East
  • a dispersed option across Halsey Wharf and Westhaven Marina
  • a dispersed option across Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf and Wynyard Point East.

See below for full details of the five options.

Costs range from $140m-$190m

Stephen Town says the indicative costs for the five options range from $140 million to $190 million.

“This funding will be included in the council’s Long-term Plan, on the basis that a funding package will need to be negotiated, sharing costs between the council, the government and private sector investors,” he says.

“We understand that the government will consider its involvement next month, with decisions in early 2018.”

Town added that the Governing Body will also consider the consent process that will be required to meet the event deadline.

“While this is an exciting opportunity for Auckland both around the actual event in 2021 and for the legacy that any event infrastructure can deliver for the city, we also understand the need for a great environmental outcome,” he says.

Previous events brought more than $1b in benefits

Steve Armitage, General Manager Destination at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), says hosting two previous America’s Cup regattas delivered more than $1 billion in total benefits for New Zealand – mainly in tourism and the marine industry.

“The regattas of 2000 and 2003 were momentous for our region in numerous ways, and the benefits went well beyond our lion’s share of the national economic injection,” he says.

“The events showcased Auckland to the world, and preparing for the regattas was the catalyst for waterfront transformation – a legacy Aucklanders still benefit from today.”

“It’s estimated that extra economic activity generated by the 2003 regatta alone sustained more than 8100 full-time equivalent jobs, which was nearly 2 per cent of Auckland’s employment at that time,” says Armitage.

ETNZ has stated a strong preference to hold the event in Auckland, but reserves the right to hold the event in Italy if suitable infrastructure is not available. The deadline for a final announcement on the location is 31 August 2018.

Full details of base location options

Halsey Wharf extension

Halsey Wharf extension
Source: Auckland Council
  • Wharf structure/location consistent with the intent of Waterfront Plan 2012
  • Meets event requirements, and provides a legacy for the marine and events sectors with new sheltered water space.


Captain Cook West

Captain Cook west option
Source: Auckland Council
  • Uses existing wharf infrastructure plus an extension
  • Meets event requirements and close to amenities such as Shed 10 and The Cloud.


Captain Cook East

Captain Cook east option
Source: Auckland Council
  • Uses existing wharf infrastructure plus an extension
  • Meets event requirements and close to amenities but does turn its back on Queens Wharf.

Dispersed – Halsey Wharf and Westhaven Marina

Dispersed – Halsey Wharf and Westhaven Marina
Source: Auckland Council
  • Westhaven development and Halsey Wharf extension consistent with the intent of Waterfront Plan 2012
  • Delivers new sheltered water space to provide for the growth of the marine and event sectors.

Dispersed – Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf and Wynyard Point East

Dispersed – Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf and Wynyard Point East
Source: Auckland Council
  • Central village location, close to existing amenities
  • Wharf structure in this location consistent with the intent of the Waterfront Plan 2012. Delivers the new opportunity of sheltered water space to provide for the growth of the marine and events sector.

Further Information

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment commissioned a study by Market Economics on the potential economic impact of Auckland hosting the 36th America’s Cup. The study stated that hosting the 2021 America’s Cup will add between $555 and $977 million to the New Zealand economy. That figure is simply the direct benefits of hosting the event. It does not consider the benefits of any new infrastructure, or ongoing benefits to the marine industry.


I know which option I like but know won’t proceed due to political infighting and too many busy bodies like Save Our Harbour sticking the nose into it. I also like another option as a back up but I have a few concerns like Wynyard Wharf and Sea Link ferry being put out from that option.


The back up option which can be deemed a quick win and path of least resistance would be the Dispersed – Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf and Wynyard Point East option. It uses existing infrastructure and clusters things pretty closely together. But it does not give a centralised base of operations for the America’s Cup nor does it seem ambitious either. While it does not scream the usual habit of half arsing things it does scream of our too conservative and timid nature of setting about lasting infrastructure and civic spaces for the present and future. I think we can do better.


Enter the first option the Halsey Wharf extension option the option I like but the option I know will struggle despite it ticking all the boxes.

Halsey Wharf Extension for me outlines ambition and planning for the present (the America’s Cup event) and future. The option gives both maximum and centralised space for both the Cup boats and yachts (as they get an extension of space) while Sea Link Ferry and Wynyard Wharf are both protected. Halsey Wharf also gives us a second inner protected harbour (the first being the Viaduct Basin) while the extensions do not protrude into the main Waitemata Harbour as it wont go past Wynyard Point and Princess Street Wharf.

Given this option also complies with the Waterfront Plan 2012 getting the option off the ground should not be hard.


But I know the most logical option – Halsey Wharf Extension will be dogged from infighting and captured interests.

This from Simon Wilson over at The Spinoff:

There is a third underlying problem and it helps explain the other two. Waterfront planning in Auckland has been captured by vested interests and compromised by siloed patch protection. That’s why it’s so hard to find evidence that anyone is doing the joined-up thinking.
The cruise ship industry says things have to be done their way or they can’t be done at all. The shipping companies handling freight say the same thing. Within the council, Ports of Auckland also insists there’s only one way to do anything and it’s their way.
Other agencies also jockey for power and influence, with Panuku, ATEED, Auckland Transport, the Design Office and the council’s own executive all seemingly determined to prove they have the essential skills to lead and manage strategic planning.

quote context:


This would be the perfect example right now for the Minister of THUD (Transport, Housing and Urban Development) Phil Twyford to come in, take the entire project off Council and establish a specific Urban Development Authority to deliver the America’s Cup 2021. The automatic benefit of a Government UDA taking the America’s Cup project off Council from go is you get a one-stop centralised shop in handling the huge array of “needs” in getting the event set up and off the ground. No going to several different agencies across Local Government you just go to the one centralised agency. Ironically if this all falls over blaming one centralised agency is easier than trying to pin it on everyone else, cynical I know.

My message to Twyford becomes this:

Establish the UDA and select the Halsey Street Wharf Extension by the time the Council Governing Body meets on November 23. Issue an Order in Council to then truncate and fast track the planning and development of the site with the premise it goes back to Council in 2022.


This won’t be the firs time I can think of a Government UDA coming in and taking over projects either. Unlock Takapuna and Transform Manukau would be two urban regeneration projects while both Airport Lines would be examples of two transit lines a UDA would work well on.


So which option for the America’s Cup bases do you like? And more to the point will it be delivered?