Preferred Waikare Gorge route could have one of NZ’s highest bridges


A unique bridge across the slip-prone Waikare Gorge on State Highway 2 (SH2) is a key feature of the preferred route that has been given the green light to move into the detailed design and consenting phases.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is designing a bridge that would span the gorge without any piers. At just over 160m long and more than 60m tall, it could be one of New Zealand’s highest road bridges once built.

The total length of the preferred route (known as the ‘white alignment’) is 3.9km and will sit west of the existing 6km section of SH2. 

“Now that we have confirmed our preferred route, we can progress to the next stage of this project where we can do detailed design,” says Senior Project Manager Rob Partridge.

“We are already underway with drilling at the bridge ends, where we are taking rock samples up to a depth of 70m. This will help inform the design.”

Detailed design is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. Waka Kotahi will then need to secure funding to move into the construction phase of the project.

Funding for the design phase of the project comes from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The Waikare Gorge is vulnerable to closures from slips and rockfall, resulting in long detours of up to six hours between Gisborne, Wairoa and Napier. It sits northwest of Putorino, a small close-knit rural community mid-way between Wairoa and Napier.

For the last two years Waka Kotahi has been working with stakeholders, the community and local iwi to examine the options as part of the business case process. The options considered how to improve safety, resilience, and access on this part of SH2. 

The Waikare Gorge realignment is one of several projects that will improve resilience, safety and enhance access to economic and social opportunities across the Tairāwhiti region.

Find out more about the Connecting Tairāwhiti projects

SH2 Waikare Gorge realignment project

Preferred route (‘white’ alignment) fly over(external link)

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