City Focus Refresh

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Journey to Change

Refreshing City Focus was one of many key issues within the inner city which retailers started considering back in October 2013.

One of Rotorua 2030’s focus is to create a vibrant city heart and made a priority of 2016.

To achieve that, key inner city stakeholders drafted strategies at a series of workshops, meet and greet sessions and subgroups. They took those strategies to the public through the first Ideas Store during the summer of 2014 - 2015. 

Locals submitted more than 1000 ideas and suggestions showing there was an appetite for change – the majority of submitters agreeing that City Focus needed a refresh.

The Inner City Steering Group, formed in February 2015, reviewed the feedback received through the Ideas Store. Without knowing what that change looked like for City Focus, they recommended a wholesale removal and this went through public consultation through the Long-term Plan in May 2015. Submissions showed removal wasn't needed but change would be welcomed.

​​Clearing clutter, simplifying and refreshing our city heart.

Strengthening the spine of our city.​


Putting People first

  • 50% per cent more public open space
  • Clearer, prioritised pedestrian routes
  • Design to reflect stories of Tutanekai and Hinemoa
  • Recognising cultural significance to Te Arawa
  • Shared space zones east and west
  • Flexible spaces for relaxing and events
  • Mix of paved, lawn and garden surfaces
  • Spaces for cafes to open out on to
  • Safe pedestrian and through-vehicle routes
  • No loss of parking spaces​

To understand what the refresh might look like, three concepts were commissioned based on the key themes coming through from the feedback, those being:

• Achieve a more efficient vehicular movements (including all turns)
• Clear the sight lines in all directions (declutter)
• Ensure there is a focus on people, enabling them to gather, stop and enjoy.

The three concepts went on display at a second Ideas Store close to City Focus so people could easily visualise themselves within the designs. For four weeks, the public had the opportunity to give their feedback on the concepts and decide if this is what the refresh looked like, or if they would prefer the existing design to remain. Ninety percent of the people selected one of three concepts with one concept getting a clear majority.

A refined concept was born, that took into consideration some of the elements of the other concepts which council approved in November 2015. 

​See 2015 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards 

Read magazine articles related to our City Focus Refresh:

The Design

Efficient Vehicular Movement - The vehicular movements include allowing all turning movements. This includes significant modification to the existing circulation routes and a switch in hierarchy to give Tutanekai St priority with unobstructed north-south vehicular movement. By doing this, the design provides significant opportunities to improve pedestrian connectivity, creates shared space for improvement in the provision of useable open space, amenity and safety.

Clear Sight Lines - The design also includes achieving clear sight lines, north to Eat Streat and the lake, south to Rotorua Central, east to the Polynesian Spa and west to the caldera rim.  This includes removal of trees and other clutter.  This will seek to strengthen the spine of the city, giving a clear indication that Tutanekai St is the main street of Rotorua and adding to the value proposition and investment opportunities and create stronger visual site lines and improved safety.

Focus on People - The design is for a space that puts people and pedestrians at the forefront. Key improvements resulting from the concept design including clear and highly prioritised pedestrian routes, recognition that the space as not only a central node for the people of Rotorua, but also a point of key cultural significance to Te Arawa, 50 per cent increase in public space and a flexible range of spaces that would cater to casual day to day use and bigger events.

See City Focus Refresh - What does change look like (PDF 4MB)


At the request of the adjacent retailers, work will not start until after Easter 2016.  The build time will be as quick as possible to minimise disruption to adjacent businesses as well as residents within close proximity. 

For further questions see City Focus Refresh FAQs

Page reviewed: 11 May 2017 8:56am