From time to time, Sarah and I have seen Facebook posts about people either wanting to stay in or close to downtown Auckland. Some have managed to find their way to Z Pier in Westhaven just to the west of the Viaduct area, but very few people seem to know about it. With this in mind, we decided that since it’s close to home, we would incorporate a visit here with a couple of our walks and then I could publish another chapter in my blog about the place.
Update to post
Sadly the facility at Z Pier is currently closed (December 2020) It looks unlikely to reopen until the Americas Cup has been completed in March 2021. We will revisit in April 2021 and update the post at this time. We have also found a place to park nearby check out the link here.
Since we did this walk a couple of times, we also approached Westhaven from two different directions the first time we wandered down Curran St. That runs from Herne Bay down the hill towards the road that runs under the Harbour Bridge. It was a beautiful sunny day until we spotted the water with a dense fog blanketing the bridge and the North Shore.
That is until we walked under the bridge and the fog just disappeared, giving us a clear view of the city behind all the boats moored at the Marina. You can admire the boats as you walk past perhaps consider changing the motorhome for one that travels on water. There is an area with the ones for sale on display with prices ranging from a quite modest $20000 through to ones in the millions.
A lot of motorhomers we have met used to own a boat before taking to travelling on land. So for a lot of people walking this area would bring back memories of their time on the water.
For the second walk, we started along Ponsonby Road on another clear blue sky day. Both of us have now lived here for more than 30 years and have seen many changes along the road during that time, but the underlying bones of the place still remain. Although the old Post Office and Fire Station are these days used for other purposes, it’s always nice to see the character of the buildings continue.
There is almost nowhere in Auckland that you cannot see the Sky Tower, and these days the skyline is also dominated by numerous cranes that seem to be building more and more apartment blocks.
Leaving Ponsonby, you walk down the hill to St Mary’s Bay where the Jacobs ladder crosses the motorway to Westhaven. Crossing the “ladder” takes you over one of the busiest pieces of road in New Zealand with over 200,000 cars crossing the bridge on more hectic days of the week. Although the average is currently only 154,000 per day, it’s still a lot of vehicles.
From the end of the “ladder” above Z Pier, it’s a tremendous view of both Westhaven and the bridge behind it as well as the first glimpse of the camping area below. On both occasions, we visited there were only 3 or so campers perhaps this is because it’s winter or probably because it’s not that well known.
Access to the camping area is from Westhaven Drive, and you can click on the map above to get directions.
With a maximum stay of 3 days parking is $20 per day as shown in the above photo. The interesting thing to us was the second time we visited campers had parked between the marked orange lines, which have the largest spaces. However, there is a sign stating that all campers must park between the white lines on the outsides of the parking area. That’s great if your motorhome is only 6 metres long but somewhat problematic if it’s 9 metres long like ours.
I often wonder in places like this are we meant to purchase 2 parking tickets to cover the two spaces the motorhome or car and caravan will take up? Or do we just buy one and hope for the best with the parking wardens?
The area is well set up with an onsite dump station, toilets and even showers available if you talk nicely to the local security officers. The facilities are clean, tidy and serviced regularly. The only downside appeared to be the lack of water there was a tap next to the toilet block, but it had nothing to say it was potable so you would need to check this first.
It’s not too far from the camping area to get to the New World supermarket located on the other side of Victoria Park. Don’t forget to take your skateboard to take advantage of one of the largest skate parks in the country. Seriously though it’s a vast open green space if you need somewhere to exercise the dog.
When camped somewhere we always explore the area so there is no reason why we wouldn’t do the same here. It’s a very short stroll through the commercial sector of Westhaven to get to the Wynyard Quarter and from there to the Viaduct and the bottom of Auckland’s Queen St.
The vehicle ferries to both Waiheke and Great Barrier Island depart from here so if you are heading “overseas” it might be that Z Pier is a convenient place to spend the night rather than try and deal with Auckland traffic if you had an early sailing.
We visited earlier in the morning, so the numerous restaurants in the area were still either closed or had very few customers. However, it would be a very different story if you visited later in the day with them in full swing. The Fishmarket also has a terrific selection of fresh seafood with a couple of cafe’s inside.
The Wynyard Quarter blends into the Viaduct Harbour as you stroll along what used to be old wharf’s used for commercial fishing and the home for the America’s Cup boats in the early 2000’s.
The Viaduct Events Centre is just before the bridge that allows boats in and out of the inner harbour on the day we visited it was all quiet, but we have been there in the past when it’s been going up and down like a yoyo. It makes for quite an exciting site.
As you continue on towards the bottom of Queen St. you pass by the container with a help-yourself library that seemed very well stocked, a good book exchange since there isn’t one at the campsite. Then onwards past the Maritime Museum home to some of New Zealand’s sailing history and well worth a visit. Outside the museum is KZ1 a massive yacht built by Micheal Fay as part of the doomed America’s Cup challenge in 1988.
From here it’s into downtown proper and the Ferry Building where you can catch a ferry to several different islands in the Hauraki Gulf. You could quite easily leave the motorhome at Z Pier walk here take the day trip and then return to the motorhome stopping at one of the many cafes for a bite to eat on the return.
Or you could simply do what we did, and that’s just enjoy the walk along one of the prettiest parts of Auckland. Obviously, on a hot summers day, the place would be heaving with people, but on the day of our visit, it was a very relaxed visit.
Next door to the Ferry Building is the Cloud that was put together as a temporary structure for the Rugby World Cup and still stands today 7 years later. It’s a fascinating shape but is beginning to look a little tired inside and would need a major tidy up before being used for the next America’s Cup in 2020/21
The hall seemed very barren with just these giant chess pieces on the floor in the middle of the place.
At the end of the wharf is the hideous State House sculpture commissioned by the Auckland Council. While the James Cook statue and neon lights inside are impressive, I find it hard to believe that Auckland benefits from this monstrosity (my opinion anyway)
It was also interesting to see several people fishing at the end of the wharf, and while we didn’t talk to any of them we did notice that one person had landed quite a decent Kowhai. I would imagine that lifting it out of the water and preventing it from going under the wharf would be quite a challenge.
Then from the Cloud, it’s just across the road to the Britomart Transport Centre where you could catch a train or bus to other parts of Auckland.
Given that you can stay at Z Pier for 3 days that would allow plenty of time to explore all that this area has to offer. We saw a lot more, and I took heaps of photos of things that I haven’t covered in this blog because after all, it’s also about the reader exploring the area themselves.
So if you want to experience downtown Auckland and can put up with a bit of traffic noise from the nearby motorway, then Z Pier is the place for you.
If you would like to see a map of our travels click here
If you would like to see other ratings of campsites we have visited click here