Project introduction

SH2 from Wainui Road intersection to Ōpōtiki has been identified as a high-risk rural road. Network improvements are underway to reduce the number of people being killed and seriously injured on this road, and thereby improve the efficiency of the road.

  • Estimated project cost

    $26 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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Network improvements are being delivered to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured. Each 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, safety 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 stretch of road on SH2 between Wainui Road and Ōpōtiki is a high-risk rural road which can be made safer and therefore more efficient. It is a main route for most traffic between Tauranga and Gisborne, and more locally, connects Whakatāne to Ōpōtiki.

Between 2018 and 2022 there were 14 death or serious injury (DSI) crashes on this stretch of road. Seven deaths were recorded during this period. Most were caused by vehicles running off the road.
Roadside hazards like banks, ditches and drop-offs along the route mean if drivers run off the road, they have a high likelihood of suffering a serious injury or death.

Crashes, in particular fatal ones, contribute to road closures, as do flooding and slips as a result of natural events. Road closures negatively impact on the Ōpōtiki region, and the proposed solutions to these are part of the project scope.

When we spoke to the community initially in March 2017, we received feedback that helped us to develop the proposed network improvements for this stretch of road.

The feedback showed there’s support for the improvements, especially at some risky intersections. It also showed us people are worried about how some improvements might affect the way they use the road and slow down traffic. All this information is important and has been used, along with our investigations, to shape the improvements that will make this road safer.

The improvements include shoulder widening, side barriers at high-risk locations, edgeline and centreline rumble strips. Upgrades to the Ōhiwa Beach Road and Waiotahe Valley Back Road intersection are also being investigated. We are also looking at what can be done for the SH2/Wainui Road (Matakerepu) intersection.

Initial funding supported preliminary work to get underway on Section 1A between SH2 / Wainui Road (Matekerepu) Intersection and SH2 / Ōhiwa Beach Road intersection. This included construction of side safety barriers, installation of a temporary median barrier at one site near Kutarere while our contractors were working to keep them safe, and shoulder road widening. This section has now been completed.

What's happened so far?


We completed road widening and installed roadside barriers on Section 1A between SH2 / Wainui Road Intersection and SH2/Ōhiwa Beach Road Intersection.


Our construction crew completed the safety improvements at the Rankin Road/SH2 intersection. This work included widening the road shoulders, installing side safety barriers, and improving the curve in the road to make it easier and safer to navigate.

We also completed service investigations and relocations through the Pōhutukawa tunnels and from the surf club through to Ōpōtiki, in preparation for the shoulder widening and roadside barriers installation along these sections.

The site (Section 1A) between the SH2 and Wainui Road intersection, Matekerepu and and Ōhiwa Beach Road, at Lysaghts bridge, was also completed.


Work on the remaining sections from Waiotahe Valley Back Road to Woodlands Road (1C) is complete. Final line markings and signage were completed in December 2023. Works were similar to Section 1A, with shoulder widening and roadside barriers at high-risk locations. This included new roadside barriers through the Pōhutukawa tunnels, as shown by our artists impression below and photos of the completed work in our gallery.

The completion of the section from Te Ahiaua Reserve Campsite to Paerata Ridge Road, and from Waiotahe Drifts Boulevard to the Kukumoa Cutting was a great milestone. It saw the installation of more than 4.1km of side barriers consisting of 1.4km of wire rope barriers and 2.7km of W-section barriers (commonly referred to as guardrails).

We also worked with the local maintenance team to get a fresh chip seal on the roads at the same time as the barriers were installed.

Careful management of the projects completed to date has meant that we had the budget and resources to extend the installation of side barriers on the section from Kukumoa Cutting to Bairds Road. This section has seen too many crashes, and it is also timely with the installation of a cycleway alongside SH2 by Ōpōtiki District Council.

What's happening now?

We’ll keep you posted as when we have further information on any further improvements on this highway.