Travel by motorcar

Travel by motorcar

Panmure Wharf, 104 Kings Road

From 1957 a new bridge was being built from Panmure to Pakuranga. Auckland’s suburbs were booming because people were able to get around in their own cars.

Highways – straight, long and paved in concrete – meant cars could glide from here to Howick, Otāhuhu and Ellerslie. But in pre-European times this spot had also been Tāmaki Makaurau’s main highway – waka could navigate all the way up the river to the narrowest strip of land, where they could be carried to the Manukau Harbour (it’s still called Portage Road). Look right to the teal-blue bridge. The high point of land on this side was Mokoia Pā, where tāngata whenua could survey the waterway.

The new bridge, opened in 1959, was actually the third bridge across the Tāmaki. A wooden bridge that swung open to allow boats through was built in 1865. (Some remains of this first bridge still exist on the other side next to the current bridge.) That bridge was demolished in 1916 when a new concrete one was built, which became structurally unsound and was demolished in 1963.

The 1959 bridge stood higher on concrete piers, and its two lanes were eventually expanded to three by sacrificing footpaths – the middle traffic lane could be used in either direction morning or evening.

In 1973 a motorway-style bridge was opened at Waipuna further upriver (you can’t see it from here). And in 2021 a new bridge exclusive to buses, bikes and pedestrians was opened right next to the 1959 one. That’s the teal-blue bridge you can see.

Tap on the photos above to read more information about them.

Play the audio to listen to a conversation from 1982 where long-time Panmure resident Mr T Hill tells interviewer Richard Baker how he thinks people driving all over to do their shopping is unsustainable. Petrol prices were rising fast at the time, like they are in 2022. The recording is part of the Auckland Libraries Heritage Collection: OH-1350-020.

It’s not part of this tour, but if you head north through the boatyard you can follow walkways along the riverbank for 6km to Glendowie.

From Bush to Borough, by Richard Baker, 1987
Panmure to Pakuranga, on
Mt Wellington 100 Progressive Years, by Mt Wellington Borough Council, 1963

Mr T Hill talks about cars

  • Mr T Hill talks about cars

  • <p>Viewed from Bridge Street in 2022, the bus-way bridge opened in 2021 is painted teal, the concrete pylons of the 1959 bridge are visible behind it, and the 1973 Waipuna bridge is just visible in the distance. Beneath the piles of the white structure under the bridge there are still remains of the 1865 swing bridge.</p>
  • <p>Construction workers in the 1950s build the concrete piers for the Panmure bridge, opened in 1959 and still operational.</p>
  • <p>Seen in 1962, the old bridge about to be demolished is in the foreground, the new bridge is in the background.</p>