Auckland’s first dedicated stream daylighting project

Stream day-lighting is the practice of bringing buried pipes to the surface and restoring natural streams in their place. Naturalised streams offer multiple benefits over pipes, including restored habitats, enhanced stormwater management, and a natural asset for the community to enjoy.

Following Boffa Miskell's 2006 work entitled ‘The Opportunities for Stream Daylighting in Auckland’ (an NZILA awarded project), Boffa Miskell and Morphum Environmental Ltd, approached the mayor’s office to form a stakeholder group to review feasibility of stream daylighting projects in the region.

In December 2010, the Mayor’s office chose La Rosa Reserve in Green Bay, West Auckland to be the flagship stream day-lighting project. Two tributaries of the Avondale Stream were daylighted from their culverts for a combined length of 200m. La Rosa showcased bioengineering techniques for stream restoration and illustrated how a community can be reconnected with their local stream.



Project team

Mark Lewis
Eddie Sides

Worked with

Auckland Council Stormwater
EDC Ltd Engineers
HEB construction

Project date



Arthur Meade Award for the Environment and Sustainability | IPENZ Engineers New Zealand
Sustainability Award | NZILA Resene Pride of Place Landscape Architecture Awards

The La Rosa Stream Daylighting Project involved:

  • The removal of 200m of 1050mm and 1350mm diameter culverts and the naturalisation of stream channel in their place using stream bioengineering techniques
  • The formation of a channel profile that increases flow capacity in the reserve and reduces flood risk to adjacent properties
  • Construction of three pedestrian bridges over the streams and installation of 300m of boardwalk, pathways and platforms to make the stream and reserve accessible
  • Riparian planting of 2,500 m2 with 5,000 ecosourced native plants
  • Establishment of a community orchard, pa harakeke, and community art works in the reserve
  • Extensive ongoing community and Iwi involvement

This project was also used as a demonstration and pilot project to:

  • Establish the cost and effort required to daylight buried streams
  • Test bioengineering techniques as suitable for managing stream bank erosion in Auckland’s clay soils
  • Determine ecological benefit of day-lighting and how long it takes for ecologies to start recovering before and after construction
  • Demonstrate natural character and landscape values associated with stream daylighting projects
  • Involve young people through outdoor education on the site in the hope that they will value our streams and natural environment into the future
  • Actively involve Iwi in the project design and outcomes.

Community and Iwi were active partners, embracing the project in early engagement, and involved through community artwork, planting design and installation, pa harakeke, and orchard design and installation. The local community have taken ownership of the project, with local schools, day-cares, and special needs facilities using the reserve as an outdoor classroom, and community groups undertaking fish surveys, planting, and ongoing care of the stream.