The developer of Albert Park’s old air-raid tunnels says they "have to be open before the America's Cup" in 2021.
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Bill Reid has championed the project for the past 30 years, which would link up Auckland’s existing walking and cycling network, and create a subterranean city.
"These tunnels have to be open prior to the America's Cup," Mr Reid told Newshub Nation.
The main tunnel will link Victoria St in the CBD to Beach Rd below Parnell, with two elevator portals below Princes St and Symonds St connecting students to AUT and the University of Auckland.
It will also see the Grafton Gully and Beach Road Cycleway connected to the planned Victoria Street Linear Park, which in turn connects to Skypath over the Harbour Bridge.
"It's the integral link," says Mr Reid.
There are more than three kilometres of tunnels under Albert Park, with cafes, wine and cheese boutiques and a museum planned for some of them.
"Nick Andreef, who owns Waitomo Adventures, he also wants to put in glow worms and black-water rafting in and around the tunnels," says Mr Reid.
"It's fitness, it's health, it's history which is going to be opened to the public."
The construction will be privately funded, with users paying a toll to pass through.
"We believe that it will be paid partially by a HOP card system, linking with the HOP cards that are available at the present moment," says Mr Reid.
The tunnels are not officially recognised by Auckland Council planners yet, but are expected to be included in the updated City Centre Masterplan.
"I think it's a magnificent idea and one that I think is really worthy of pursuing," says Councillor Chris Darby, chair of the Auckland Council Planning Committee.
The tunnels were built in 1942 following the bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese during World War II.
Auckland was also thought to be a target, so 3.5 kilometres of tunnels were constructed to shelter 22 thousand residents in the event of an air strike.
The tunnels were created using untreated wood and were starting to deteriorate by the end of the war.
"It was cheaper to fill the tunnels in with clay blocks than it was to concrete line them so in 1946 the tunnels were sealed never to be seen again," says Mr Reid.
"It's been my 30 year quest to get these tunnels open again to the citizens of Auckland and Auckland City."