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Laneway becomes Rainway for opening

The theme song for the opening of the city’s new laneway in Lombard and Bond streets today should have been ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’.

Photos by Huup Waagen

Despite the bad weather, the opening of the city’s newest laneway went ahead regardless, with rain-coated spectators watching models catwalking under canvas, as well as live music, performing arts and a photo booth.

As with Wellington City Council’s other Laneways projects, Lombard and Bond streets have been transformed into a more attractive pedestrian-friendly environment, connecting to Manners Street, Cuba Street and Victoria Street.

The upgrade has been designed to transform pedestrian shortcuts and make the space more walkable and appealing with improved lighting and ground surfaces, extra green spaces and seating.

The initiative is part of the 2040 vision to revitalise the city by transforming laneways that were underutilised. With seven projects finished and more in the pipeline, the results have been hugely positive says Mayor Justin Lester.

“Masons Lane, Eva and Leeds, Bond, and Egmont Streets are all examples of what a difference a bit of smart urban design and TLC can make to an environment.

“Not only do these rejuvenated laneways contribute to the walkability of the city and the enjoyment factor of locals, but they also attract visitors to the capital, and this all makes the areas more appealing to businesses and residents.”

Central City Projects portfolio lead Councillor Nicola Young believes it’s fitting that the Lombard area has been rejuvenated as a busy hub for business and culture.

“This area used to be the capital’s shoreline, with wharves, Customhouse and the Bond Store, and now this busy, bustling, precinct reflects its history.

“Commercial enterprises are drawn to revitalised and vibrant areas with character, as we have witnessed in the thriving spaces of Eva/Leeds and Egmont Streets. This latest project is already mirroring its predecessors with a popular community of restaurants, cafes, retail outlets, businesses, and the first New Zealand inner-city gin distillery opening soon.”


New kids on the block Denzien Urban Distillery believe the area is a perfect fit for their new venture, according to Director Eamon O’Rourke.

“As urban Wellingtonians, we are of course frequent users of the amenities that have sprung up in Wellington’s burgeoning laneway scene. In fact, early discussions about our business idea were conducted over a gin or two at Hanging Ditch on Leeds Street, so I guess you could say laneways are part of our DNA.”

“When we began our quest for the perfect location for New Zealand’s first urban distillery, we knew it had to be somewhere very special.

“Unlike the existing laneways in the city, Lombard’s focus is on fashion, but we think this is just perfect. Given that gin is the only spirit in Australasia that is consumed by more women than men (55 per cent), we feel like it’s a marriage made in heaven. With foot traffic in the laneway steadily increasing we believe this is to the mutual benefit for all the tenants.”

Other planned Laneway projects include Forresters Lane, which is in progress, with new lighting to be installed, and  Swan Lane and Garrett Lane, which are in the early scoping stages with stakeholder engagement in advance of the design process.