Cruisy holiday journeys on State Highway 2 this summer


NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi is taking measures to ensure steady, smoother journeys for drivers travelling on a key holiday highway this summer.

Similar to previous years, passing lanes on State Highway 2 between Pōkeno and the SH25 Mangatarata roundabout will be closed on select dates during the busy Christmas and New Year holiday travel periods. 

Those cruising on down SH2 through the Karangahake Gorge will have more time to soak up the stunning scenery. The 600m section between Crown Hill Road and School Road has had its speed reduced temporarily from 80km/h to 50km/h. This section of the highway includes the entrance to the Karangahake Reserve, which is the starting point for many of the popular walks in the historic gorge.

SH2 is the main highway connection between Auckland and the holiday hotspots of the Coromandel Peninsula, Waihī Beach and Tauranga. Waikato System Manager Andrew Oakley says that it’s all about making the highways safer for everybody.  

“When the roads are super-busy, maintaining a steady flow helps prevent crashes from traffic merging at the end of passing lanes.   

“Queues might be a little longer when the passing lanes are closed, but there will be minimal impact on your journey time. A slightly slower speed doesn’t make for a longer journey, overall, as traffic moves more steadily.

“The reduced speed through the gorge is to help keep people safe while driving, walking and cycling in this popular summer holiday spot.

“Slower speeds through the area will give all road users a bit more time to react to what’s around them,” says Mr Oakley. 

For those heading off on a Christmas break, the eastbound passing lanes on SH2 (towards Coromandel) will be closed between 4am and 8pm on Friday 22 Saturday 23, Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 December 2023.

Heading homewards, drivers will find the westbound passing lanes closed between 4am and 8pm on Tuesday 2, Wednesday 3, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 January 2024. 

Reopening of the passing lanes and ramps will depend on the traffic flow. If traffic remains heavy, the closures will remain in place for longer.

The reduced speed limit in the gorge will remain over the Christmas and New Year period, when holiday traffic is at its peak, until Waitangi weekend. 

These measures form part of a proactive approach to managing traffic on the state highway network that road users will see in other locations, such as stop/go traffic management at the SH25 Pepe Stream Bridge. 

With the summer holiday period approaching NZTA reminds everyone to plan ahead for safe, enjoyable summer trips using our holiday and real time journey planner tools. And of course, it’s as important as ever to drive to the conditions, allow extra time and take regular breaks to stay alert.