Project introduction

Tairāwhiti has been struck by a series of severe weather events in the past year, leaving extensive damage across the region. The scale of damage is significant, and it will take time to repair. Find out more about the road ahead here.

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Asphalting programme – June to September 2023

We're improving the resilience of State Highway 2 between Gisborne and the Waioeka Gorge with an extensive asphalting programme between late June and September.

To minimise disruption, work will be done at night. Work will take place seven nights a week between 7pm – 5am, when the weather is fine, with some full road closures required.

Work will start between Matawai and the Waioeka Gorge. This will be followed by work at Otoko and will move south towards Gisborne. For more information please read our FAQs.

Frequently asked questions about the asphalting programme


Work to resurface areas of SH2 between Gisborne and the Waioeka Gorge under full night time closures is now scheduled to start on Monday 7 August (weather permitting)

Please check Journey Planner before travelling for the most up-to-date information on the road status. This work has been on hold over the past month because of severe weather and the resulting subsidence at Otoko Hill (SH2).

However, because of the travel restrictions in this area during that time, crews were able to make use of the lower traffic volumes to complete many of the sites during the day.

Crews have now completed 10,000 square metres of asphalt resurfacing on SH2 north of Gisborne at Ormond, Te Karaka, Waikohu and Otoko. Another 10,000 square metres on SH2 south of Gisborne and at other priority sites impacted by recent severe weather has also been completed, improving the resilience of key access routes for Tairāwhiti.

Crews will continue to complete the remaining 105,000 square metres of asphalt resurfacing required along SH2 between Gisborne and Waioeka.

Next week, crews will complete enabling works at SH2 near Trafford’s Hill during the day under stop/go traffic controls (weather permitting), in preparation for night works starting Monday 7 August.

Please continue to check this page for updates.

What you need to know

Cyclone Gabrielle re-routed rivers across our highways, caused slips and dropouts, and severed critical highway connections. As we recover, our crews are working hard to restore and strengthen the highway network.

It’s a challenging time to travel around Tairāwhiti, with roads damaged and numerous work sites along our highways. Please check Journey Planner before you leave, drive with care, obey temporary speed limits and respect the instructions of roading crews.

Journey Planner(external link)

Tokomaru Bay to Te Puia Springs

The Hikuwai No. 1 Bridge, which connected Tokomaru Bay to State Highway 35, was destroyed in Cyclone Gabrielle. This road is a lifeline for Tokomaru Bay, Waipiro Bay and Te Puia Springs. Following the hard work of contractors and community support, on 15 June we opened the Hikuwai Bailey bridge.

Prior to this, since March, communities between Tokomaru Bay and Te Puia Springs had been reconnected to the south by the community-led Hikuwai Bypass Road (Pourau Road). This is a diversion road through private land, built by Kuru Contracting. Waka Kotahi supports this initiative and has worked with Ngāti Porou and landowners to enable the public to access this road. The road is classified as a secondary road as per the NZ Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) Road Engineering Manual guidelines. It is an unsealed one lane road, with laybys incorporated to alleviate congestion and ensure there are opportunities for vehicles to pass each other safely. This road will remain in use for heavier trucks which are unable to use the Bailey bridge.

In early April, a new Mangahauini Access Track was also opened, reconnecting people to the north. This Track is a 300-metre unsealed road and we ask motorists to drive with care. We’re committed to keeping this access route open, safe and operating for the community, but it may need to be closed at short notice in bad weather.

A bridge with logs stacked up underneath it

Hikuwai No 1 bridge

Local roads

Waka Kotahi manages the region’s state highway network, and all other roads in the region are managed by local councils. For details on the condition of local roads, check the local council website:

Gisborne District Council website(external link)

The road ahead

The key links into and around Tairāwhiti have been reopened, and we’re using short-term measures to keep the region moving. Those include solutions like Bailey bridges, temporary speed limits and working around slips and dropouts by reducing the road to a single lane.

We are also now working on developing a strategic resilience recovery approach for Tairāwhiti, with Wairoa also included in this work. SH2 (Ōpōtiki to SH2/SH5 intersection), SH35 and SH38 are included in the project.

We are working closely with local councils on this project, which will further support the immediate emergency works that have already taken place. It will build on existing strategic work already done in the region, including the Tairāwhiti Roading Package, and applying a stronger resilience lens. It will also identify the potential initial broad programmes of recovery work to progress as soon as feasible, and the ranges of funding required.

All future programmes of work will be subject to securing funding, and many will require further investigation, planning and community engagement including consultation with those who live and work in the affected areas before physical works begin.

A collaborative delivery model

We’re committed to getting the recovery of the transport network right. We’re working with KiwiRail, Downer, Fulton Hogan and Higgins to establish the construction management team for the long-term recovery.

Local knowledge and resources will play a key role in the recovery and the collaborative delivery model  will work together with iwi, councils, locally-owned contractors and consultants and the community – those who know  Tairāwhiti best – to ensure we meet current and future needs.

The collaborative delivery model is expected to be in place for several years, and the full team is expected to be in place by mid-2023. Until then, ongoing recovery works to improve access levels are being undertaken by the existing maintenance contractors across affected regions. 

More information on our response to Cyclone Gabrielle