Wharf Street from The Strand to Willow Street was a typical, car-dominated street between the city centre and the waterfront. Tauranga Downtown Mainstreet (TDM), the local business organisation, and Wharf Street businesses wanted to increase the number of people visiting the area and cement its identity as a key connection to the waterfront. Tauranga City Council (TCC) supported this goal in principle, as it aligns with the Tauranga City Centre Spatial Framework, which envisions the area with share people spaces, a greater pedestrian focus, and more outdoor seating opportunities for dining and relaxing.
TDM and Wharf Street businesses initiated a 12-month trial to convert Wharf Street into an outdoor dining precinct, funded by business and property owners, TDM, and corporate sponsors, together with contributions from TCC. All outdoor furniture was made from railway sleepers from the old Matapihi Bridge, which were gifted to TCC for this purpose. The placemaking treatments were:
These were used to:
Regular meetings were held to keep Wharf Street businesses and property owners up to date, with other city centre businesses informed through weekly newsletters. A six-week launch programme involving activities, performances, an outdoor movie night, street food, and live DJs and bands was scheduled to demonstrate to the public how the street could be used as a pedestrian-friendly zone.
The project was considered successful by local businesses and TCC, with several changes observed:
As a result, the trial was extended, and in 2018, a permanent upgrade to the street was approved.
Issues identified included: