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Project introduction

The project will provide a safer, more resilient and reliable route between Pūhoi and Warkworth. It will extend the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) 18.5km from the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels to just north of Warkworth.

About this project

The new Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway will extend the Northern Motorway (SH1) from Johnstones Hill Tunnels to just north of Warkworth.  Ara Tūhono means a connecting pathway and the name was gifted by our project treaty partners, Hōkai Nuku.

 The motorway will provide people travelling through this region with a separated motorway and vastly improve the safety, connectivity, and resilience of the network between Northland and Auckland, helping to boost the economic potential of the Northland region.

This will be achieved through easier freight movements and better access to major markets south of the region and to export ports at Auckland and Tauranga. The tourism sector will also benefit with improved journey times opening access to popular destinations in Northland and the Far North.

The motorway
was scheduled to open at the end of 2021, but this has been delayed by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on current progress Waka Kotahi anticipates that NX2 and their subcontractor Fletcher/Acciona Joint Venture will be in a position to open the road in the second quarter of 2023 once all the necessary safety and quality tasks have been completed.

For the latest construction updates, please visit the NX2 website:

NX2 website(external link)

For information about the previous investigation, consenting and procurement phases of the project, please read the project phases sections below:

  • Route investigation and community consultation (2010–2012)

    The project team, working with consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), completed a detailed study of the route in 2010 and 2011. The study considered all issues associated with the road’s construction from the technical, environmental and community perspectives. The topics examined in the study included:

    • Location and form of road improvements

    • Social impacts such as noise, air quality and the effect on the local community

    • Tangata whenua and the cultural impacts of potential routes

    • Property impacts

    • Geotechnical and topography considerations

    • Ecological impacts and the effect on historic areas

    • Connections to the local roading network and walking and cycling access

    • Staging and costs

    • Opportunities to accelerate the project

    Community input was sought through two rounds of consultation. The first round associated with the route investigation was carried out between 21 June and 16 August 2010. A large amount of feedback was received and a map summarising feedback [PDF, 347 KB](external link)  was prepared.

    The second round of consultation took place between 16 November 2010 and 28 January 2011 with the release of the indicative route for the Pūhoi to Warkworth section. Again a large amount of feedback was received and this is summarised in newsletter 5 [PDF, 430 KB].

    The findings of investigations into the Pūhoi to Warkworth section of the route were considered alongside community feedback to announce a preferred route in April 2012. For more information on the Pūhoi to Warkworth preferred route please read newsletter 6 [PDF, 527 KB]

  • Obtaining statutory approvals (2013–September 2014)

    Detailed reports that outlined the potential environmental effects of the project were lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) at the end of August 2013 to support the Notice of Requirement application to build the road.

    The EPA notified and collected submissions on the Pūhoi to Warkworth proposal between 16 November and 13 December 2013. An independent Board of Inquiry heard submissions from the public at a hearing between 7 April and 5 June 2014. The Board confirmed the designation and resource consents on 12 September 2014.

    View the application documents online.

    Read the final report on the EPA website(external link).

  • Procurement (2015–2016)

    In November 2016 the Transport Agency awarded a PPP Contract to the Northern Express Group (NX2) to deliver the motorway in late 2021.

    For more information about the Public Private Partnership model, please read the PPP page.

  • Tolling consultation

    There was a robust process to assess the route and the road was recommended for tolling in March 2020. Waka Kotahi consulted with the community and presented a comprehensive proposal for tolling but the Minister has decided that there will not be a toll on Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth.

    Information about the tolling proposal



There will be a number of transport benefits as a result of the project including:

  • improved safety and connectivity.
  • improved journey time reliability.
  • easier freight movements.
  • boosting the economic potential of the Northland region.

Drone flyover - January 2023

Drone footage of the Ara Tūhono - Pūhoi to Warkworth Motorway project area.

Working in partnership

We have been working with Hōkai Nuku since 2010 when the partnership was originally  formed to collaborate on the Ara Tūhono - Pūhoi to Wellsford.  Hōkai Nuku continue to provide specialist cultural and environmental advice for this stage of the project. Hōkai Nuku is the authorised voice of four Iwi and Hapū mana whenua – Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngāti Mauku/Ngāti Kauae of Te Uri o Hau, Ngāti Rango of Kaipara and Ngāti Whātua.

In November 2016, Waka Kotahi awarded a PPP contract to the Northern Express Group (NX2). Under the partnership agreement, NX2 would finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the motorway for 25 years after its completion. Full ownership of the motorway remains with the public sector.

NX2 contracted the Construction Joint Venture, Fletcher/ACCIONA to construct the motorway and they have engaged Higgins/Acciona as the Asset Maintance & Maintance contractor. They will maintain the motorway for 25 years following opening.

Our partners on this project