Fine parking, or parking fine?

Going to Wellington city centre in the weekend, and determined to take the car? Soon you’ll be paying – but TBH we all should have been, for years now. 

Good morning Wellington!  

Weekdays, eh? There’s public transport change afoot, trying to make it easier to get in and out carlessly – more frequent trains, and better busses (ain’t that right Metlink and Greater Wellington?!).   And for driving into town on weekdays, it’s always been parking at the end that’s The Hard Thing.  Hourly charges are rising, and those with a private carpark often tell you so with a little smirk (once they’ve arrived after sitting in the congestion).

But on weekends, our streets have for years been Free Parking!  “Whoopee!” Two hours of free parking!

Now, Wellington City Council are considering introducing charges at weekends too (and lifting coupon charges too).  

Here’s what’s on their website:

“It is proposed that:

  • weekend parking fees be implemented from 1 September 2018
  • a rate of $2.50 per hour be applied in all areas with a weekday rate of $3 and above
  • a rate of $1.50 per hour be applied in all areas with a weekday rate of less than $3
  • a full-day weekend central city trade coupon be introduced at a rate of $22.50
  • parking time limits remain unchanged.

These parking fees will:

  • transfer the cost of maintaining city centre amenities from local businesses paying the Downtown Levy to those who use the parking spaces
  • help keep rates increases to a minimum.

It is anticipated that the weekend fees will encourage higher turnover of parking spaces so that more people are able to access the city.”

How much and where?

  • “The $2.50 rate will apply to about 3,000 parking bays between Oriental Parade, Willis Street, The Terrace and Hutt Road.
  • The $1.50 rate will apply to about 400 parking bays in Oriental Parade, Kent Terrace, Cambridge Terrace, Thorndon Quay and Hutt road.”

“But it’ll be terrible for retail!”

“We have to have carparks so people will come here” is a line you have to use when your city’s a bit mediocre, when you have to lure people with the “get there, do your business, get outta there” nature of a booty-call into the city centre. (No offence, Lower Hutt, Paraparaumu, Porirua).

But when your town is a bit cooler, a bit more interesting, has more stuff to do in one place and is just a more pleasant place to be in, people are willing to spend time there. Hang out, browse, wander around – get a coffee, shop, drop in, see a thing, investigate, have lunch, listen to a busker, hang out, get a beer…  so it’s not a big deal that you don’t have the car. In fact, it can even be a pain to have it. Especially when there are other options for getting around, like half-decent public transport and walkable streets.

So, Wellington, yes: you can feel safe making it a bit less convenient to park (remember, they’re not taking away carparks – just making people pay a bit).

Don’t believe us? Remember how the city kept humming when we lost Reading’s 900-odd spaces to that minor rumble in the earth? And that was in the run up to Christmas.

“But why shouldn’t it be free anyway?  This is an outrageous money-grab by Council!” 

Deep breaths folks.  Here’s some stuff we (everyone) knows: 

  1. Cities are great when there’s heaps of good stuff happening close together.  That’s why land values are high: you can benefit from being close to other things.  
  2. Inner-city space is the most valuable land, and the bit that’s publicly owned – the roads and streets – are both valuable and rare – they’re precious! You want to put your precious resources to the best use, right? Otherwise it’s a waste. And storing my Mazda for free, because I choose not to take the other pretty doable options, is a pretty wasteful use of that space.
  3. Coupon parking charges are going up a bit too. 

Why should I have to pay so much though? If you’re feeling skeptical, check this out:

“This is a slippery slope, they’re just taking away all the parking!”

Another deep breath…

1. they’re not.  They’re only asking if I should get to store my Mazda there for free.

2. Even if they were actually taking some parks away – we’ve got quite a lot on our streets.  Imagine… what would our streets be like if we put some of this space to another use?

Why it’s important to be sensible about parking

As many authoritative people have said – most recently, guru Lucy Saunders of Healthy Streets – the single biggest barrier to rebalancing city streets towards people, rather than machines, is people raising hell about parking.

And we know our streets should be more people-focussed, yet many of our fellow citizens will raise hell about this proposal.


Perhaps because we like giving council hell about stuff and we feel deeply entitled to store the Mazda as near as we can to the places we want to go. Even when there are other options, and even when we love those cities (overseas) where the streets have the above sort of stuff instead of quite so much carparking.

So what’s a sensible Wellingtonian to do?   Easy:

Pop in a submission!

Both the coupon parking and the weekend parking consultations close  5pm on Tuesday 7 August 2018.   If you agree with us, you could say something like…

Weekend parking: “Yeah it’s okay to pay to store my Mazda in the public street on weekends; Wellington will be absolutely fine with weekend parking charges; perhaps make it even easier to get people on to those new buses eh!”  Email more discursive comments to

Coupon charges: “Yeah it’s OK to pay, but how about improving the walkability and bikeability from the peripheral areas of the city too so people are more willing to park further out and get into the centre under their own steam? At the moment it feels too dangerous to bike and footpaths are too narrow to courteously scoot in far too many of our outer CBD streets.”

Interested in parking? Here’s more!

Image Credits

  • Feature image: Pond5
  • Parking meter by Rob Kitchin / Stuff
  • PARK(ing) Day installation 2018 – Wellington City Council
  • Parklet –

9 comments on “Fine parking, or parking fine?”

  • Jo Booth says:

    Wellington needs a park n ride 😉 Bring your car to the outskirts and use the bus to get around?

  • luke says:

    Transit Oriented Development produces more riders per sqM than ParknRide does plus as ParknRide expands it reduces the walk up catchment of the transit station.

    We have a housing shortage yet we are using prime realestate near our Train Stations (Petone, Waterloo, Porirua, Paraparaumu, Waikanae) to store peoples cars for ‘free’.

    • Isabella Cawthorn says:

      Anyone know if GWRC has a strategy for this stuff? Aunty Google couldn’t lay hands on one quickly…

  • Cb says:

    Given the public transport is now more than a bit sh*t, and Metlink can’t guarantee getting people into town during the week, then getting people in on the weekends sounds like an impossible dream

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