The NZ Transport Agency is today celebrating the completion of improvements on State Highway 1 to Cape Reinga.
The $19m project was begun in September 2007, and includes widening the highway, smoothing out tight curves to give motorists, cyclists and walkers clearer and safer visibility, and the sealing of the final 19 kilometres of SH1 from Waitiki Landing to the Cape, allowing motorists to drive the entire 2.022 kilometres of SH1 from the Cape to Bluff on a sealed road.
Northland MP John Carter lead today’s celebrations, joined by staff from the NZTA, the Department of Conservation and local iwi.
The NZTA’s Regional Director for Northland, Wayne McDonald, says the project’s completion is a significant economic and social event for Northland and New Zealand.
“Tourism is important for the country and for the Northland region and the increasing numbers of people making Cape Reinga a tourist destination now have a smoother and more enjoyable journey. Equally important, the people who live in the isolated communities around the Cape now have a more reliable connection to larger centres.”
Mr McDonald says the highway improvements were the result of a successful team effort from the NZTA and its project partners - the Department of Conservation and local iwi, Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri. DOC has upgraded visitor facilities at Cape Reinga, and provided interpretation sites along the highway with historical and ecological information for visitors. Iwi have propagated about 500,000 native plants, which are being used to beautify the drive to the Cape and help stabilise land.
“It’s been a fantastic legacy partnership that will provide enduring physical and spiritual benefits for the region,” says Mr McDonald. The project has already won an excellence award from Roading NZ for environmental sustainability.
New Zealand’s state highway system for main roads was introduced 57 years ago in 1953. SH1 originally went no further north than Waitiki Landing. The final 19 kilometres to Cape Reinga was taken over as an unsealed state highway in 2004 by the NZTA’s predecessor, Transit New Zealand.