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Project introduction

The SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway project is an upgraded 22km four-lane corridor that will improve transport connections between Auckland and Whangārei. The Government has decided further work will not be progressed through the New Zealand Upgrade Progamme.

June 2021 update

The Government has made decisions on the New Zealand Upgrade Programme that will change this project.

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Project overview

The Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway project is an upgraded 22km four-lane corridor that will improve transport connections between Auckland and Whangārei. The upgrade is part of a wider programme of improvements to improve safety, access, and reliability between Whangārei and Auckland that includes:

  • Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth project (under construction)
  • Warkworth to Wellsford (consenting phase)
  • Improvements to the State Highway 1 (SH1) and Loop Road (SH15) intersection and SH1 and Portland Road intersection (under construction)

Together, these projects aim to improve safety, build greater resilience into the transport system, and improve the connection and access to Northland.

Waka Kotahi is delivering the project with funding from the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, which supports a shift to greater transport choice, will improve safety and boost productivity in the country’s growth areas.

Project features

  • Upgrading 22kms of SH1 to four lanes through a mix of offline and online improvements between Whangārei and SH15 (Port Marsden Highway), including upgrading the SH1/SH15 intersection.

  • Two of the four lanes will be for general traffic and we’re investigating the possibility of ‘managed lanes.’ This could include one lane in each direction being prioritised for public transport, freight or multiple occupancy private vehicles.

  • Separated walking and cycling path between Whangārei and SH15.

  • Alignment with the Safe Network Programme to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries between the Whangārei and Port Marsden turn off.

Why do we need this project?

Northland’s population has grown faster than any other region as a result of growth overflow from Auckland. The upgraded corridor will strengthen the region’s transport links with Auckland, supporting the annual movement of two million tonnes of freight between Northland and Auckland. The project will support Northland economic growth, such as tourism which contributes around $1 billion per year to the region and improve road safety, which in turn will help improve travel reliability for all users.

More than 100 people have died or been seriously injured during the last five years on SH1 between Whangārei and Te Hana, the worst section being between Whangārei and the Port Marsden turn-off. Many of these crashes involved drivers crossing the centreline and colliding with oncoming traffic. Safety improvements planned for this section of SH1 under the Safe Network Programme will still be required.

Road closures as a result of crashes have impacted on Northland’s economic growth, as many detour routes are unsuitable for freight vehicles.

The new corridor will provide for safer, easier and more reliable journeys for everyone. 

Safe Network Programme

To support growth south of Whangārei and provide greater choice in the way people move, we will investigate using two lanes along sections of the four-lane corridor to prioritise public transport, vehicles carrying multiple people and/or freight. The new corridor will provide for safer, easier, and more reliable journeys for everyone.

New Zealand Upgrade Programme

Waka Kotahi is delivering the $6.8 billion transport programme on behalf of the Government. The investment will save lives, get our regions and cities moving and boost productivity in the country’s growth areas.

The programme will play a vital role in helping to stimulate the economy and support the country as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19. It supports a shift a shift to greater transport choice – with a balanced investment in public transport, roads, walking and cycling.

Find out more about the New Zealand Upgrade Programme

Project timeline

Breakdown of the SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden project timeline

Community consultation

In September 2020, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced a shortlist of two route options for the SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway project, with a preferred option to be confirmed by the end of the year.

The two options included upgrading the current state highway to four lanes (with some sections built offline to straighten out curves) or upgrading the existing state highway to four lanes with a section built to the west of SH1, avoiding the coastal marine environment at Oakleigh. Both options included widening of the urban corridor to four lanes and the project also included a separated walking and cycling path between Whangārei and Port Marsden Highway (SH15).

Waka Kotahi sought public feedback on both the urban section of the project between Tarewa Road and Toetoe Road and the two route options in the rural section between Toetoe Road and Port Marsden Highway. Feedback closed 23 October 2020.

View the online feedback(external link)

In December 2020 we asked for feedback from communities within the Whangārei district, regional road users and visitors to Northland on how they move through the section of SH1 so we can make informed decisions on highway design elements. Feedback closed on 31 April 2021. 

View the online feedback(external link)