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Need directions? Don’t come to Wellington

Feb 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News


Rochelle Subritzky looks for a sign to show her the way in Wadestown.

WELLINGTON is known for its compact city centre – but the suburbs might not be as easy to get around.
Street signs are elusive, perplexing and sometimes non-existent for those new to the city.

Student Rochelle Subritzky, for example, says she had trouble finding flats two years in a row because of poor street signage.

“There doesn’t appear to be any sort of consistency or system with them,” she says.

“They’re not even maintained. They’ll be covered by trees or there won’t even be one.”

Miss Subritzky cites Moorhouse St in Wadestown as an example of ambiguous signage (pictured).

At the end of the street, signs indicate Lennel Rd and Fitzroy St, but the sign for Moorhouse points away from the street.

She says for someone new to the suburb, this can be confusing.

One Wellington resident, who declined to be named, says the erratic nature of the suburbs’ street signs makes it hard to navigate when following written directions.

“So often I’ll come to an intersection with a sign for one street but not the other. It’s especially frustrating when the street you’re already on is the one with a sign.”

She has noticed this at Sydenham St and Randwick Rd in Northland and Hutt Rd and Onslow Rd in Ngauranga.
Wellington City Council spokesperson Richard MacLean says street signs are not a big issue for the council.

“Most streets have them and where they don’t, we may go look and see if it’s practical or necessary to have a sign.”

In the case of Hutt Rd and Onslow Rd there is not much room for a sign because of the tight intersection.

He says instances of ambiguous signage can be due to “bored teens” pushing the signs around. People usually manage to work things out for themselves.

Occasionally when signs go missing or are damaged, people will call to get them fixed, but it is not something that is causing the council a lot of trouble.


Spot the sign- left and right views of a Northland intersection. There are two signs for Sydenham but none to indicate Randwick.

Indonesian student William Liando thinks the signage in Wellington is clear compared to his hometown, Jakarta, where many streets are not sign posted or the signs are covered by trees.

“Even though it’s a much bigger and established city, I don’t think Jakarta has what Wellington has.”

Geneva Chapler – living in Wellington on a working holiday from the US – says it can be a hard city to be lost in because people cannot always get back to where they were by taking a few left or right turns.

“Streets are mostly perpendicular [in America] and here they intersect at funny angles, or they turn and you don’t know if it is the same street or if it’s a new one.”

Wellington native Anne Cornish says if she wasn’t from the city she would find herself getting lost often.
“The signs seem to come too late and you don’t actually see the signage until you’re in the wrong lane.”

One example of this is on Adelaide Rd in Berhampore, where Herald St turns into Britomart St.
Coming up to the lights from town there is a sign for Herald across the road, which makes it look like the whole street is Herald.

The sign for Britomart is on a building on the top right corner of the intersection, obscure enough for a motorist to have missed the right turning lane.

Another resident relatively new to the city says he gave up trying to find his way around and bought a GPS navigator for his car.

“At last, I don’t get lost from not being able to find street signs that never seem to be there,” he says.

Only one hitch, though: his Navman GPS has an Australian voice telling him where to go, and the pronunciation of Maori place-names is “shockingly bad”.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student who wants to use her writing skills for good, not evil. Miyuki likes: food, Seinfeld and talkback radio. She dislikes: not having time to read, killing insects and the news.
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