Wellington Police are calling for patience from all road users as tomorrowâ€™s Hikoi will bring parts of the inner city to a traffic standstill for at least two hours.
Detective Inspector Rod Drew, acting Wellington Police District Commander and head of the police operation, says there could be more than 5000 people participating in the march which is now expected to leave from Te Papaâ€™s forecourt between 10am and 10.30am.
A â€˜feederâ€™ march from Newtown Park leaving at around 8am will put pressure on the eastern and southern corridors. More than 500 vehicles associated with the Hikoi will also be on State Highways 1 and 2 from early morning as participants leave their overnight accommodation at Marae in Porirua and the Wairarapa to travel into the city.
"Many of these vehicles will be in convoys escorted by police for road safety reasons," Detective Inspector Drew says. "Itâ€™s far better to keep people together in groups especially if they donâ€™t know where they are going."
Delays on the state highways from Porirua and the Hutt Valley are likely.
More than 200 police â€“ most from Wellington District but more than 30 from Eastern and Central Districts â€“ are involved in Operation Hikoi. Extra police patrols will be on the highways and in the inner city helping smooth traffic flow but delays will be a reality.
Police are urging commuters to plan their travel and allow extra time.
"Itâ€™s going to take at least two hours for the Hikoi to complete the walk to Parliament as many of the participants are elderly people," Detective Inspector Drew says. "Weâ€™ll be closing roads and re-opening them as soon as the march clears an area but the delays for traffic will be significant."
Police met today with Wellington City Council representatives and key Hikoi organisers and finalised route details. Some small changes were agreed to.
The known routes are:
â€¢ 8am departure from Newtown Park by a group of up to 800 people. Police will escort the marchers onto Mansfield Street, the left hand lane of Riddiford Street, the left hand â€˜greenâ€™ bus lane on Adelaide Road, around the Basin Reserve, the right hand lane of Cambridge Terrace, the right hand lane of Wakefield Street, then into Chaffers Street and the Te Papa assembly point.
Police will try to keep other traffic lanes open in Riddiford Street, Adelaide Road and Cambridge Terrace. They appeal for motorists however to go slow while passing the marchers.
Traffic around the Basin Reserve must be prepared to stop if signalled to do so.
Motorists using the waterfront quays, Cable Street and the Chaffers Street areas should ensure theyâ€™re through these areas before 8.30am as the roads will be closed.
The main Hikoi will leave from Te Papa between 10am and 10.30am. Itâ€™s route will be:
â€¢ Te Papa, across Cable Street, along Taranaki Street, right onto Dixon Street, Victoria Street, Manners Street, Willis Street and Lambton Quay to Parliament.
â€¢ Another group of marchers will leave from Victoria University will follow footpaths along Salamanca Road, The Terrace, MacDonald Crescent and Dixon Street to Te Aro Park where they will link with the main Hikoi.
Police say it could take an hour for all the march to get across Cable Street and Wakefield Street. Traffic should avoid this area and use the west of the city including the motorway through The Terrace tunnel.
Stagecoach bus services will be diverted. Ring Ridewell on 801 7000 for updated bus timetables.
"Weâ€™re asking everyone to be tolerant, exercise some patience and respects the rights of each other," he says.
"Itâ€™s inevitable a march of this size will impact on the public but if everyone keeps a cool head then hopefully it the disruptions will be minimised as much as possible."