Project introduction

Between 2009 and 2018, 25 people died and 66 seriously injured on this stretch of SH2 between Waihī and Ōmokoroa. Most crashes were caused by running off the road, head-on collisions and intersection crashes. The improvements being made are proven to save lives and reduce risk of crashes.

  • Estimated project cost

    $164 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


Subscribe to updates

What does subscribing mean? Please read our Privacy statement


Tirohanga whānui kaupapa – project overview

We're making State Highway 2 (SH2) between Waihī and Ōmokoroa safer and more efficient for everyone who uses this increasingly busy road. Work to improve this 40km corridor, including road and shoulder widening, installing a wide centreline, flexible road safety barriers in high-risk areas, and intersection improvements, has been underway since 2019.

There are over 15,000 vehicles travelling this highway every day. Each crash has the potential to impact highway traffic flow for several hours. As well as save lives and prevent crash trauma, these safety upgrades will result in fewer crashes which will mean the highway is more efficient and can support productivity and economic growth in the area.

The design solutions and improvements we’ve investigated and selected for SH2 will mean the road will be more forgiving if someone makes a mistake, with crashes less likely to be serious.

Each serious crash has huge impacts on the people involved, their families, emergency services and the health sector. As well as saving lives and preventing crash trauma, these upgrades would result in fewer crashes which would mean the highway is more efficient and can support productivity and economic growth in the region.

The installation of flexible median barriers, and additional intersection upgrades to provide safe turnaround points between Tetley Road and Esdaile Road, are a critical aspect of this project.

While the changes may mean some people need to travel further to make a right turn, or consider their journeys differently following these upgrades, the consequence of not making it home altogether is far, far worse.

What we are doing 

To improve this stretch of road we are:

  • widening the road
  • putting in a wide centreline to help separate oncoming traffic
  • widening the road shoulders to give drivers more room
  • putting in roadside safety barriers where there are hazards such as power poles, trees and deep ditches
  • making intersections safer
  • installing flexible median barrier and turnaround areas.

These improvements will save lives, improve efficiency, and raise the safety rating of the state highway.

Flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades (roundabouts)

Every day, 15,000 vehicles travel this section of highway – and that figure is growing by around 2-3% each year. More vehicles on the road, means more risk, and 40% of the crashes that resulted in death or serious injury on this section of highway were due to head-on collisions.

By installing median barriers, we can prevent many of these happening in the future. And by combining median and side barriers, we can reduce road-related trauma by 75%. We have the case studies to support this.

In 2022, funding was made available for this part of the project. Since then, we’ve spoken widely with the community about our plan to include flexible median barriers as an extra safety enhancement to this project.

With any large road safety project there’s a balance between community safety and convenience, and at many of our community engagement sessions we’ve heard varying perspectives on this. For progress to happen, a balance must be struck, and decisions made.

We know flexible median barriers work. When you hit a flexible barrier, the cables flex, slowing your vehicle and keeping it upright. They’re designed to absorb the impact, protecting you and others in the vehicle, ensuring your vehicle isn’t deflected into another traffic lane. 

Once median barrier is in place, you may need to change the way you use the road.  When leaving the side road you live on, rather than waiting for an opportunity to turn right across a busy state highway, you’ll turn left and travel to the nearest roundabout.  There will be six safe turnaround areas on this stretch of SH2.

The roundabouts will be spaced every three to five kilometres and will make turning right much safer for those who live along SH2. Roundabouts can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by at least 60%, because they make head-on and side impact crashes much less likely, and lower vehicle speeds.

Crashes cost our community in many ways. These changes will require some patience and understanding, but they will make the road safer for everyone.

Project timeline


SH2 Waihī to Tauranga programme business case

Funding announcement - $520m funding injection for key Tauranga route | link)


Design and public consultation on safety improvements

Consents lodged


Construction begins on safety improvements – the 40km stretch of SH2 is split into 10 sections


Heath Road to Trig Road – one of 10 sections completed


Trig Road to Mathers Road, Mathers Road to Athenree Gorge, and Wharawhara Road to Sharp Road – 4 of 10 sections completed


Kauri Point Road to Lindemann Road, and Wainui South Road to Esdaile Road – 6 of 10 sections completed

Further consultation on flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades takes place


Funding confirmed for the installation of flexible median barrier and six intersection upgrades to provide safe turnaround points, under the Road to Zero programme.

Sharp Road to Sargent Drive – 7 of 10 sections completed

Athenree Road to Tanners Point Road – 8 of 10 sections completed

Roundabout at Rea Road and Tetley Road – completed

Roundabout at Morton Road – under construction


Nine of 10 sections completed – Tanners Point Road to Kauri Point Road complete, this marks the completion of the initial contract work north of Katikati (work needed to be done ahead of considering the installation of median barriers).
Morton Road roundabout – completed
Esdaile Road to Ōmokoroa Road – under construction
Roundabouts at Sharp Road, Lockington Road and Matahui Road – under construction
Ten sections of safety improvements – completed
Lockington / Matahui roads roundabout – completed


Sharp Road roundabout – completed
Apata Station Road roundabout – under construction
Installation of flexible median barrier (between Rea/Tetley and Morton Roads roundabouts) – mid 2024


Apata Station Road roundabout – estimated completion early-2025
Esdaile Road and Pahoia Road roundabout – estimated completion late-2025


Flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades due to complete (currently being programmed, *subject to change)