In June 2014 the Government announced funding to accelerate a package of regionally important State highway projects.

The package has three parts:

  1. Tranche 1
    Up to $80 million to accelerate the construction of five critically important regional projects in Northland, Gisborne, Taranaki, Canterbury and Otago.

  2. Tranche 2
    Up to $5 million to finalise investigation and consenting for projects in Northland, Gisborne, Taranaki, Horowhenua, Marlborough and the West Coast. Up to $115 million was committed for construction, subject to the investigations finding the projects were needed.

  3. Tranche 3
    Up to $12 million to accelerate investigation and design of three large projects in Hawkes Bay, Nelson and the Bay of Plenty.

Update (27 January 2016):

On 27 January 2016, the Government announced that up to $115 million funding would be made available to fund the construction of four of these projects:

  • Mt Messenger bypass (Taranaki)
  • Awakino Tunnel bypass (Taranaki)
  • Motu bridge replacement (Gisborne)
  • Opawa bridge replacement (Marlborough)

In addition, the following projects, investigated as part of Tranche 2, will be constructed with funding from the National Land Transport Fund:

  • Whirokino trestle bridge replacement (Horowhenua)
  • Taramakau road/rail bridge (West Coast)
  • Loop Road North to Smeatons Hill (Northland)
  • Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge corridor (Taranaki)


Information about the individual projects:

Tranche 1 projects:

Tranche 2 projects:

Tranche 3 projects:

Tranche 1 projects

Kawarau Falls Bridge

Photo of Kawarau Falls bridge

Under construction
Estimated cost: $27 million

The current bridge is one-lane, controlled by traffic lights, just outside Queenstown. A new bridge has been investigated and designed immediately downstream of the existing bridge and is only held up by lack of funding. Government funding is estimated to be accelerating this project by 3-4 years.

Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek Realignment

Photo of part of road from Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek

Under construction
Estimated cost: $22.3 million

This project will increase the safety standard and provide route security for the main road between Christchurch and the West Coast. The current road, through rough terrain, is narrow and seen as unsafe. The road will be realigned and widened to remove dangerous tight curves and dips/hollows from the highway. The West Coast Regional Transport Committee has signalled it as a high priority. The project has been investigated and designed but is awaiting resource consent. Government funding is estimated to be accelerating this project by 5-6 years.

Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane

Photo showing portion of State Highway 1 north of Whangarei

Under construction
Estimated cost: $17 million

This project involves realigning the existing State Highway 1 north of Whangarei to improve the alignment over a 3-kilometre section. The scope also includes a new southbound passing lane and extension of the existing northbound passing lane. The NZ Transport Agency has completed the design stage and land purchase, and designation and resource consent have been acquired. Government funding is estimated to be accelerating this project by 5-6 years.

State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays

Photo of part of Panikau Hill on SH 35

Panikau Hill

Photo of part of Wallis Hill on SH 35

Wallis Hill

Completed 2015
Cost: $1.5 million

Two improved opportunities for passing on State Highway 35 north of Gisborne, at Panikau Hill and Wallis Hill. These new slow vehicle bays will improve safety, and reduce driver frustration for road users by providing opportunities to pass at these critical points. The highway is currently a single carriageway, but in these two locations, there is space to widen the seal to accommodate slow vehicle bays.


Normanby Overbridge Realignment

Photo showing road leading up to Normanby Overbridge.

Completed 2017
Estimated cost: $17.6 million

The current overbridge and adjacent alignment has had many fatal and serious injury crashes. This project will see a realignment of the current road, and changing the current overbridge to a new under rail pass. The government is providing funding for this project because it is a high regional priority.

Tranche 2 projects

Whirokino Trestle Bridge Replacement

Photo of Whirokino Trestle Bridge

Under construction
Estimated cost: $70 million

The Whirokino Trestle Bridge is an 1100m long, reinforced concrete bridge constructed in 1938 between Levin and Foxton. It is regarded as unsafe because it is very narrow, and it is not strong enough to carry High Productivity Motor Vehicles. The upgrade to the bridge is part of the High Productivity Motor Vehicle investment route, as this section currently must be bypassed by overweight vehicles.

Motu Bridge Replacement

Photo of Motu Bridge

Under construction
Estimated cost: $6.5 million

This is the only one-lane bridge on the road between Gisborne and Opotiki, and requires frequent maintenance in order to keep it functioning. It is regarded as a high regional priority as it will improve Gisborne’s connections to the north.

Opawa Bridge Replacement

Photo of Opawa bridge


Construction start date: Late 2017
Estimated cost: $21.3 million

This bridge replacement will enable better access for High Productivity Motor Vehicles on State Highway 1 around Blenheim. The current bridge is narrow, and despite being used frequently, is very old. Upgrading it is a high priority for Blenheim local government and residents.

Following initial investigation, the nearby Wairau bridge may be considered in future National Land Transport Programmes. The bridge is still in good condition, and can be maintained at a reasonable cost.


Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge

Taramakau Road/Rail bridge

Under construction
Estimated cost: $25.8 million

This is currently a one-lane bridge that is shared between cars, trucks, bikes and trains. The new bridge would be two lanes with a separate rail bridge. The existing road would be realigned for improved visibility and safety.

Loop Road North to Smeatons Hill Safety Improvements

Photo of section of Loop Road north to Smeatons Hill

Construction start date: 2018
Estimated cost: $7 million-$10 million

The road layout of this section of State Highway 1 south of Whangarei is poor and unsafe. It is a major road for logging trucks, and is very narrow in some sections. The specific work to be completed will depend on further investigation.

Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge

Photo of portion of road in Mount Messenger and Awakino Gorge corridor

Construction start date: 2017/18
Estimated cost: $114 million-$135 million

This section of State Highway 3, which is the main route between New Plymouth and Hamilton, is through rough terrain, and as a result is windy and narrow. Improvements will be delivered through a number of individual projects, including the newly identified bypasses of Mt Messenger and the Awakino Gorge tunnel:

  • bypass of Mt Messenger ($80–$90 million of Crown funding through the Accelerated Regional Roading Programme)
  • bypass of the Awakino Gorge tunnel ($9–$15 million of Crown funding through the Accelerated Regional Roading Programme)
  • safety, reliability and travel time improvements ($25–$30 million through the National Land Transport Fund).

Projects to be investigated and designed

Napier Port Access Package

Photo of Pakowhai intersection with State Highway 50

Pakowhai and SH50 intersection

Photo of Hyderabad Road intersection

Hyderabad Road intersection

The Napier Port Access Package is a Crown funded investigation within the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading programme. It is a Tranche 3 project, with Crown funding provided for the investigation and design (if appropriate) phases only.

The investigation started in early 2015. The Programme Business Case, completed in December 2015, identified a recommended programme to address the efficiency and safety problems identified for the route. This programme was progressed through the Detailed Business Case stage to form a Napier Port Access “Package” of projects.

On 27 July 2016 the Government announced a $25 million package of three road access improvements as one of the first actions of Matariki – the Hawkes Bay Economic Development Strategy.

The announcement identified three of the projects in the overall Napier Port Access Package which have qualified for funding through the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF), and which are progressing. These are:

  • the Watchman Road intersection project. Construction is underway. Estimated cost is $13 million. Project scheduled for completion by mid-2018.
  • the Prebensen Drive and Hyderabad Road intersection. Design is nearing completion and construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2018.
  • the State Highway 50 and State Highway 2 Expressway short term safety improvements. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2018.

Three other projects were investigated as part of the package however the investigation found the projects do not qualify for NLTF funding at this time. These projects are:

  • the State Highway 50 Expressway longer term efficiency improvements do not qualify for funding under the NLTF
  • the Ahuriri Safety Improvements do not qualify for funding under the NLTF because there are currently insufficient transport benefits
  • the Whakatu Rail Hub investigation will not progress any further until there is more certainty about growth and opportunity for integration at Whakatu. The New Zealand Transport agency will continue to monitor progress on the uptake of the Whakatu Hub.
The NZTA will continue to monitor the performance and traffic growth of the Expressway and State Highway 50 through Ahuriri to the Port of Napier.

Nelson Southern Link

Estimated cost: TBC

This State highway would be an alternate route to the current coastal State Highway 6. The current coastal route would have its State highway status revoked. A route study has been completed and the Nelson Southern Link was one of the preferred options. Accordingly, the alignment and conceptual design have been completed. The proposed link runs from the Nelson CBD, and reconnects with State Highway 6 at the Annesbrooke roundabout.

Most property has already been purchased. Investigation and detailed design, including consenting, is expected to take at least 4–5 years, given the location of the proposed route through an urban area and the 2004 Environment Court decision to reject the route primarily on the basis of community severance, air pollution and route choice.

Rotorua Eastern Arterial

Estimated cost: $24 million

The Rotorua Eastern Arterial project was replaced by the Connect Rotorua programme. Connect Rotorua includes an initial programme of improvements estimated to cost up to $24 million. The programme is split into two projects:

  • Central Corridor – State Highway 30A/Amohau Street
  • Eastern Corridor – State Highway 30/Te Ngae Road

Construction is planned to start in early 2018.