Oruku Landing – Master Plan Development

Concept design

Northland Development Corporation (NDC) was looking to develop a unique Whangarei Events Centre with associated hotel, apartments, commercial space and parking on 12,460m2 of reclaimed river land between the Hatea River and Riverside Drive in Whangarei later known as Oruku Landing. The aim was to provide Whangarei with a leading edge facility that would enhance the local economy as well as attract visitors locally and internationally to the region.

The buildings and facilities envisaged for the site include:

  • A new Whangarei Events Centre catering for 750 people with banqueting for up to 620 people
  • A new 4-star hotel – 132 rooms
  • 18 new riverfront apartments as part of a mixed use building including retail and parking
  • Ferry dock
  • Marina

The overall development was designed to be “uniquely Whangarei” designed for locals, visitors and representatives of all of Northland. The design needed to be welcoming, communicate warmth, light, strength, adventure, openness and comfort but also be “gritty” (i.e. modern but not too shiny). Another important requirement was the desire to communicate a strong cultural narrative threaded seamlessly throughout the design. This brief was derived from the client team and a number of interested community groups.

In looking at the site, orientation, surrounding landscape and key features, the design team formulated an overall site layout for the three key parts of the project; Events Centre, Hotel and mixed use building. The two main local landmarks are Mt. Parihaka and the Hatea River. The connection between the two was critical and at a very early stage in the design process it was decided to build a series of individual buildings that allowed for views through and across the site. To capture this connection, the buildings were orientated South-West looking across the river, with sight-lines over the pohutukawa tress to Riverside Drive and the lower slopes of Mt. Parihaka.


During 2019, after gathering a significant amount of information from the client, user groups and representatives from Te Parawhau and Ngati Tahu o Torongare a design meeting was held between key members of the design team which included:

  • HB Architecture
  • Brewer Davidson Architects
  • Dalman Architects
  • 4SIGHT Landscape Architects
  • Matakohe Architecture and Urbanism Ltd

From this design meeting the basis of the current urban plan was agreed and this subsequently evolved into the layout which we now have. A significant element of the plan was the continuation of the Hatea Loop along the water-front edge of the site. It was proposed to enhance the current pathway with a wider boardwalk promenade to strengthen the Hatea Loop and to encourage people onto the site.

The key building on the site (now called Oruku Landing, a reference to the historic significance of the place) is the new Whangarei Events Centre which opens onto a significant public plaza between the centre and the new hotel, providing an open connection between the Hatea River and Parihaka. This building is “wedged” into the triangular eastern end of the site with the concept being designed by HB Architecture.

To the western side of the plaza is the new 4-star hotel designed by Dalman Architects. This is a five-level building running from the Hatea River to the road, opening up at the ground floor to the new public plaza, river and garden and hotel forecourt areas to the west.

To the extreme western end of Oruku Landing is the proposed mixed use building also designed by HB Architecture. This five level building will sit between the Hatea River and Riverside Road.
Both the hotel and mixed use building have been orientated towards the closest two historic pā sites.

Associated with the development is a new commercial marina and berths with a wider boardwalk expanding and further enhancing the existing Hatea Loop walkway. Also proposed is a further pedestrian bridge over the river to link Oruku Landing more directly with the Whangarei Town Basin and the existing tourist attractions along the southern edge of the Hatea River.