Plans to turn Auckland tunnels into an underground city could be a reality in six months

Rock News 31/01/2018

The developers of what's been dubbed the biggest tourist attraction in New Zealand say it could open in six months, if Auckland Council get its act together. 

Four kilometres of tunnels sit unused under the CBD's Albert Park, with plans to develop them into underground bars, restaurants and even a glow worm cave. 

Video shot last month shows the Albert Park tunnels don't really exist as a structure any more. The roof has caved in and the timber beams have failed. 

Project transport manager Nicolas Reid says the tunnels are effectively gone to the ravages of time.

"What remains are the holes in the earth the tunnels used to sit in."

It took eight months and 118 workers to dig out more than three-and-half kilometres of tunnels to be used as an air raid shelter in World War Two. They've been sealed ever since, but dubbed 'Subterranean City', there are now grand designs to restore them.

The tunnels sit in the heart of the CBD, with the main one running from Victoria Street to the bottom of Parnell. Commuters would be able to use that as a walk and cycleway. 

"This is a real missing link, if you will," says Mr Reid. "A real jewel in the crown of the cycling and transport plan." 

Developer Bill Reid called it "the biggest tourist attraction under one roof in New Zealand and possibly Australasia".

Bill and Nicolas Reid are behind the development, and say a tunnelling company has told them they could have it open in six months.  

"That's lined, paved, open to the public in six months. I would like to see the tunnels open Christmas this year."

It's predicted to cost up to $20 million, but they're not asking for any ratepayer funding. Instead, private backers would bankroll it and pay a lease back to the council.

The challenge now - getting the council on board to turn it from a pipe dream into a reality.