Deserted road makes for safer and quicker work environment


Night closures of the Desert Road will keep the highest stretch of road on the state highway network reaching for the stars.

Night works kick off on Sunday 11 February, with work taking approximately 5 weeks to complete. Workers will be on site Sunday to Thursday between 6pm and 6am each night, with SH1 closed between Waiouru and Rangipo during this time.  

State Highway 1 is a vital route for drivers of all kinds. From freight to holiday makers, military to mountaineers, it’s critical that the Desert Road remains in tip top shape, explains Andy Oakley, Waikato System Manager at NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA). 

“Thousands of drivers use the Desert Road every day, enjoying some of the most stunning scenery that our network has to offer. To keep the road safe and accessible for everyone, we need to complete this important road rehabilitation,” says Mr Oakley.   

“Night closures provide the best opportunity to get these works done, with the least amount of overall disruption as possible.” 

Frequent travellers through the Central Plateau would have already experienced significant maintenance activity this summer, including works on State Highway 4 near the Makatote Rail Viaduct, work at Halletts Bay (Lake Taupō) and other works along the Desert Road.  

“There’s been a lot of work on our network this summer, as we try to make the most of the settled weather. We understand this causes disruption, and we thank drivers for their understanding and patience.  

“People should plan ahead, as the detour between Rangipo and Waiouru via State Highway 46, State Highway 47, SH4 and State Highway 49, back to SH1 and vice versa, will add approximately 30 minutes to journey times.  

“I encourage everyone to check the NZTA link) on the day of their travel to see the latest road and traffic conditions before they set out on their journey,” says Mr Oakley.  

This work forms part of the summer renewals programme, which sees approximately 2500 lane kilometres being renewed between October 2023 and mid-2024. 

For those travelling further south  

A sign posted detour will also be in place over the Pahiatua Track during closures on Saddle Road starting Monday 12 February. 

Saddle Road, which connects Ashhurst to Woodville, will close: 

Monday 12 February to Friday 23 February  

  • Monday to Thursday: 9am and 4pm.
  • Friday: 10am and 4pm.  

Saddle Road will remain open in the evenings and on weekends. 

The daytime closures will allow crews to carry out essential maintenance, including road repairs, drainage improvements and asphalt resurfacing. 

During these closure times, traffic will be detoured via State Highway 2 and over the Pahiatua Track. 

Saddle Road is currently the alternative State Highway 3 while construction is progressing on Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū – Tararua Highway.