Wellington Police, the Wellington City Council and Transit New Zealand are appealing to the travelling public and other commuters to consider leaving their cars at home and to use public transport to help minimise traffic congestion in the central business district during ceremonies associated with the return of the Unknown Warrior this week.
Traffic is expected to be particularly congested for most of Thursday 11 November, with Buckle Street from Sussex Street (Basin Reserve end) through to Taranaki Street closed for 12 hours from 6am to 6pm. Other streets in the CBD will also be closed for several hours.
Superintendent Rob Pope, Wellington Police District Commander and head of the police response to the Unknown Warriorâ€™s arrival in the city, says heâ€™s confident people will respect the dignity and importance of the formal ceremonies.
Key venues are at Parliament where the Warrior will lie in state overnight on Wednesday, a service at St Paulâ€™s Cathedral on Thursday morning from where the Warrior will be carried by gun carriage to the National War Memorial in Buckle Street where his remains will be entombed.
About 150 police staff from across the District will be involved in the police side of the two-day operation which starts at the Military Terminal on Wednesday morning when the Unknown Warrior is brought home from France. After a small military ceremony at the terminal, the Warrior will be slowly transported about 11.30am in a procession of police and Defence vehicles from the airport, arriving at Parliament around midday.
The route is:
• Lyall Bay Parade, Onepu Road, across Coutts Street and Rongotai Roads to Evans Bay Parade, Oriental Bay Parade, Wakefield Street, Jervois Quay, Customhouse Quay, Whitmore Street to Parliament.
The public will be able to watch the Warriorâ€™s arrival from vantage points along the route and inside Parliament Grounds.
Superintendent Pope says most of the ceremonies take place on Remembrance Day â€“ Thursday 11 November. "This is when we expect greater pressure than usual on the cityâ€™s key arterial routes including motorways as people try to get into work or go about their business during the course of the day.
"Please, if you can, leave your car at home and catch alternative transport. There will be roads closed in the central city, some of them all day, and this will put increased pressure on alternative routes.
"Avoid giving yourself a headache by planning your travel ahead. Allow extra time for your journey. We will have officers on point duty and will be re-opening streets as soon as possible. But if you are stuck in traffic, please remain patient."
The casket will be carried from Parliament to St Paulâ€™s Cathedral for an hour-long service starting at 11am. At the conclusion of the service, the Warrior will at 1.15pm be taken by gun carriage in a military procession through the central city to the National War Memorial in Buckle Street.
As the Warrior leaves St Paulâ€™s a military four-gun salute will start. Superintendent Pope says the gun salute will last for approximately 19 minutes so do not be alarmed by the noise. The firing party will be positioned on Queenâ€™s Wharf.
Superintendent Pope also suggests that those wishing to spend lengthy periods watching events near Parliament, St Paulâ€™s Cathedral or near the National War Memorial to make sure youâ€™re dressed for the weather, and have access to some water.
Superintendent Pope says the police approach will be as low-key as possible.
"Weâ€™re obviously prepared for any eventuality but our hope is that the events will go well and be respected by the thousands of Wellingtonians who I am sure will line the vantage points to pay their respects."
Temporary road closures on Thursday are:
• Road closure 6am to 6pm: SH1 Buckle Street (Sussex Street to Taranaki Street)
• Road closures from 9am to 2pm: Aitken Street (Molesworth to Mulgrave Streets), Lambton Quay (Bowen to Molesworth Streets), Hill Street (Molesworth to Tinakori Road), Molesworth Street (Lambton Quay to Pipitea Street).
• Road closures from 11am to 2pm: Lambton Quay (Bowen to Willis Streets)
• Rolling road closures â€“ 12 noon/12.30pm to 1.30pm: Cuba Street (Wakefield to Manners Streets), Manners Street (Cuba to Taranaki Streets), Mercer Street (all), Taranaki Street (Manners to Webb Streets), Victoria Street (Harris to Wakefield Streets), Wakefield Street (Victoria to Cuba Streets), Willis Street (Hunter to Boulcott Streets).
• Temporary parking restrictions 6am to 2pm â€“ No parking at all times
Aitken Street and Hill Streets (both sides and all of street); Manners Street (Cuba to Taranaki â€“ all), Molesworth Street (Lambton Quay to Pipitea Street â€“ all); Willis Street (Boulcott to Hunter Streets â€“ all); Cuba Street (Wakefield to Manners Streets â€“ all); Lambton Quay (both sides and all), Taranaki Street (Manners Street to Webb Streets), Wakefield Street (Victoria to Cuba Streets â€“ all).
• No parking â€“ temporary bus stops 6am to 2pm
Customhouse Quay (outside Shed 11), Jervois Quay (outside Frank Kitts Park), Wakefield St (Blair to Allen), Customhouse Quay (Brandon to Johnston), Jervois Quay (Harris to Willeston Streets), Wakefield Street (Behind Reading Cinema).
There will be delays on bus services but people will still be able to travel as far as Courtenay Place and the Railway Station on shuttle buses which will use the waterfront routes.
Buses will not be able to use the procession route while the procession travels from St Paulâ€™s to the National War Memorial.
Bus travellers can check with the Ridewell Service Centre on 04 801 7000. Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa callers can phone toll free 0800 801 700.
Wellington Police District communications manager
Tel: 496 3464 or 0274 373 020
Wellington City Council communications
Tel: 801 3578 or 0274 453 837
Transit New Zealand Communications
Tel: 801 2521