Has the Mt Victoria tooting tunnel been silenced by an upgrade?


Renovations to a decades-old tunnel in Wellington may have inadvertently killed off a long-standing tradition.

The Mt Victoria tunnel, which runs between the Basin Reserve and the suburb of Hataitai is losing its reputation as the tooting tunnel.

What used to be an icon of Wellington life has almost been silenced and locals are putting it down to the tunnel’s $30 million upgrade.

“We've heard that people have stopped beeping since they've improved it, what do you think? Yep definitely, there's not much beeping goes on in there now,” one motorist said.

Others said people have got bored of it, while others say it doesn’t echo like it used to.

Legend has it the tooting began in memory of a pregnant 17-year-old who was buried alive by her boyfriend, in "fill" from the tunnel while it was being built in 1931.

An upgrade to the 620m-long tunnel was completed in June and was necessary to improve safety. 

It includes earthquake strengthening the walk and cycleway, lining the walls with fire retardant panels.

NZTA Wellington Highway Manager Neil Walker says there is also a new broadcast system in the tunnel.

“The benefit of that's been that people can listen to the radio when they go through, but the reason why we have it there is should there be an event in the tunnel itself, then that broadcast system will cut across people’s radio systems telling them what’s going on.”

NZTA says it's done nothing to intentionally reduce the tooting and that people may now just prefer listening to the radio over car horns.