Wynyard Quarter

Name of case study

Wynyard Quarter


Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand


 2011 – ongoing

Type of NbS

Hybrid living/engineered interventions


Auckland Council


 Auckland Council


$NZ236 million (for various aspects of the development)

Design group

Combination of groups

Madden Street Designed Section. Image by LANDLab
Climate change benefits
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Flooding
  • Increased temperatures
  • Reduced air quality
  • Reduced water quality
  • Sea level rise
  • Urban heat island effect
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Water security and quality
  • Waste management and hygiene
Ecological benefits
  • Climate regulation
  • Disturbance prevention
  • Habitat provision
  • Purification

Summary of case study

Wynyard Quarter is a waterfront precinct located in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, New Zealand. Much of it is on reclaimed land. It is situated on the western edge of the Auckland CBD, Wynyard Quarter has undergone significant transformation in recent years, evolving from a former industrial area into a new hub for culture, recreation, innovation, and urban living. The precinct is home to a mix of commercial, residential, retail, and recreational spaces. The Wynyard development aimed to become Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost exemplar of environmentally responsible development, showcasing world-class strategic and design responses to both local and global environmental challenges (Simcock, 2016).

Wynyard Quarter is an example of innovative urban design and sustainability initiatives. The precinct incorporates pedestrian-friendly streets, and cycling infrastructure, encouraging active transportation and outdoor recreation along with various nature-based solutions ideas including urban green and blue-green spaces, rain gardens, permeable pavements, and nature-based stormwater management systems, to enhance water quality and mitigate flooding.

The project is a response to the growing population of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and the need to plan for urban climate change adaptation. The Waterfront Plan includes a blue-green waterfront, a public waterfront, a smart-working waterfront, a connected waterfront, and a livable waterfront (Waterfront Auckland, 2013). The blue-green infrastructure will be an integrated system (like a sponge city) and contribute to making the waterfront a resilient place. It will ‘minimise environmental impacts, reduce waste, be built sustainably and will respond to climate change’ (Waterfront Auckland, 2013). Issues identified that the redevelopment responds to include: sea level rise, more frequent extreme weather events, and increased storm surges and wave heights.

Wynyard Quarter prioritises the integration of soft infrastructure, particularly vegetation, within the urban landscape. This emphasis on green infrastructure enhances the area’s ability to absorb and purify water, mitigating the impact of increased rainfall events and reducing impervious surface runoff during extreme flooding events. By incorporating green infrastructure, Wynyard Quarter aims to create a more adaptable environment in response to climate change (Simcock, 2016). This approach not only helps to reduce the urban heat island effect but also improves water and air quality, fostering a more hospitable environment for both residents and wildlife. Consequently, the precinct becomes more resilient to environmental challenges, benefiting those who live and work in the area (Waterfront Auckland, 2013).

A crucial aspect of the project is the recognition of mana whenua, the Indigenous people of the area. The area of Wynyard Quarter used to be a mahinga kai (food-gathering place), and many (fortified villages) were built on the headlands with easy access down to the water. Waka canoes) were dragged ashore or launched for fishing expeditions, and people would wade in the low tide to collect shellfish and catch flounder. By acknowledging the rich history of Māori settlement in Wynyard Quarter, both before and after European colonisation, the design guidelines incorporate principles of partnership and cultural sensitivity. This includes recognising Māori names and significant landmarks, enhancing environmental health in alignment with cultural values, incorporating cultural narratives into the precinct’s fabric, and creating opportunities for iwi/hapu to maintain their presence in the area (Waterfront Auckland, 2013).

Ecological benefits have been enhanced by establishing landscaping connections between existing and planned areas, notably along Jellicoe Street and Daldy Street linear park (Waterfront Auckland, 2013). These landscaped areas foster wildlife biodiversity by providing opportunities for open spaces, shaded areas, community gardens, and spaces for food cultivation (Waterfront Auckland, 2013). A small community garden of raised beds is located on Daldy Street. 

The ongoing development of Wynyard Quarter means its ultimate value is still to be determined. With a goal to accommodate approximately 3,000 residents and 25,000 workers, the project holds significant economic potential (Ekepanuku, Development Auckland, 2023). Although an analysis of stormwater management’s value in Wynyard Quarter is pending, it stands as a key component of the project’s climate resilience strategy.

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North wharf promenade. Photo by Simon Devitt. https://nzila.co.nz/showcase/north-wharf-promenade 

Further resources:

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