Identifying opportunities for central Auckland.

If our urban rivers and streams were liberated from underground pipes and brought to the surface again, what might change? It’s a question Boffa Miskell landscape architect and ecologist Mark Lewis has been investigating.

“Stream daylighting, as it’s called, is a pretty radical change in thinking about our urban drainage systems,” Mark says.

“There’s a growing realisation, here and overseas, that properly managed urban waterways offer multiple benefits.”



Project team

Mark Lewis

Worked with

Lisa Truttman
Pattle Delamore Partners

Project date


Rivers and streams can provide the basis for high-amenity open space corridors, with walking and cycling routes through our towns and cities. Further environmental benefits can include improved flow capacity and water quality, opportunities for flood mitigation, natural habitat restoration and – no long-term liabilities for underground pipe replacement!

Mark says overseas examples of stream daylighting have shown economic and social benefits too. “Water edge property is always at a premium and restored waterways have proved a driving factor in urban revitalisation. Citizens have quickly engaged with the idea for re-inventing nature in the city.”

Auckland Regional Council’s Stormwater Team has been interested in the stream daylighting question too and worked with Boffa Miskell, engineers Pattle Delamore Partners and historian Lisa Truttman to investigate opportunities in central Auckland.

Focusing on three watercourses in Freeman’s Bay, Parnell and the CBD, Boffa Miskell developed a methodology for identifying the historic location of watercourses. The team then assessed and mapped potential stream daylighting constraints and opportunities, and concluded that two of the catchments – the Tunamau and Waipapa Streams – had very real short-term potential to see the light of day again!

“This methodology enabled us to assess feasibility and prioritise the daylighting potential of these particular streams,” Mark says. “It’s also provided the basis for further catchment investigations.”