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Project overview

Project introduction

The Waterview Connection project is one of the most important infrastructure developments ever to take place in New Zealand. Completing a motorway ring route around the city, it will unlock Auckland’s potential to become a truly world class city.


The Waterview Connection will complete the Western Ring Route, a 48km motorway route between Manukau in the south and Albany north of Auckland via state highways 20, 16 and 18. It will bypass central Auckland to the west (ending Auckland’s reliance on a single motorway spine), SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge for road travel through and within the region.


Completing the Western Ring Route has been prioritised as a road of national significance because of the significant contribution it will make to the future prosperity of New Zealand's largest and fastest growing city. It will provide Auckland with a resilient and reliable motorway network by reducing dependence on State Highway 1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge for business to business trips, access to markets and jobs, and personal travel.

By connecting up the southwestern and northwestern motorways, the Waterview Connection will create a direct motorway link between the central business district and the Auckland International Airport. The project's urban design initiatives – new recreational facilities, upgraded parks and greatly improved cycling and walking connections – will unlock the potential of local communities as attractive, desirable places to live.

Waterview: Our largest, most ambitious roading project

Costing NZ$1.4b, the Waterview Connection project in Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most ambitious roading project.

It will connect the Southwestern and Northwestern Motorways (State Highways 20 and 16).  The project is described as the ‘missing link’ to complete the Western Ring Route – a motorway alternative easing pressure on SH1 through the centre of the city and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.   

Half of the new motorway – 2.4km – is underground.  The world’s 10th largest tunnel boring machine, named Alice, is constructing twin tunnels up to 40m below ground. Each tunnel will carry three lanes of traffic. 

The project includes construction of a giant interchange near the northern entrance to the tunnels to connect the two motorways. It will also deliver community-based facilities for walkers and cyclists, sports amenities, playgrounds and parks.

The project is being constructed for the NZ Transport Agency by the Well-Connected Alliance – the alliance includes the Transport Agency and New Zealand and overseas companies with expertise in infrastructure, tunnelling and design.

The tunnels and interchange are due to open in early 2017, and will have the biggest impact on the way people travel around and through Auckland since the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959. 

Construction - The enormous task

Constructing New Zealand’s largest ever roading project is an enormous task spread over three different locations in Auckland: the 5km-long highway route in west Auckland to connect the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways; a disused quarry at Wiri in south Auckland where the spoil excavated from the tunnels is dumped; a precast concrete factory at East Tamaki in south Auckland where the tunnel segments are made.   

The project employs between 800 and 1000 people.

The Waterview Connection is the most important transport infrastructure project in Auckland for almost 60 years.  It will help manage the growth in Auckland’s population and economy, and provide better connections with the city’s regional neighbours in Northland and Waikato/Bay of Plenty.

There are two key features to the project:-

  • The Waterview tunnels: twin 2.4km-long tunnels that will each carry three lanes of traffic

  • The Great North Road Interchange: 4 ramps that total 1.7kms in length to connect the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways (State Highways 20 and 16) immediately north of the tunnels to complete the Western Ring Route.

Project enabling works began in January 2012 at the southern (Owairaka) end.  Construction proper began in June 2012.  The project is due to be completed and the tunnels and interchange opened in early 2017.

The project is being delivered for the NZ Transport Agency by the Well-Connected Alliance, which is responsible for design and construction.  The Well-Connected Alliance will also maintain and manage the connection – including the tunnels – for 10 years after it opens.    

  • Construction zones

    Constructing the new highway route is broken down into 3 distinct zones:

    • Southern:  Above ground works from Dominion Road on the Southwestern Motorway to the southern portals of the tunnels. View more

    • Tunnels:  underground works to construct the twin tunnels. View more

    • Northern:  Above ground works from the northern portals of the tunnels to the Northwestern Motorway, including the Great North Road Interchange. View more


Delivering national benefits with local focus

The Waterview tunnels and the giant interchange to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways is due to be completed in early 2017.

It is one of most important infrastructure developments ever to take place in New Zealand, and it will have significant travel and economic benefits for Auckland and the country.  The Western Ring Route will provide more resilience to Auckland’s motorways if there is a crash or some other incident elsewhere on the network; drivers will no longer need to rely just  on the busy SH1/Auckland Harbour Bridge motorway corridor; connections will be improved between Auckland International Airport and the CBD and between areas of new expansion in the city; regional links with Auckland’s expanding neighbours to the north and the south will also be better. 

  • Quick facts
    • Project objective: Complete Western Ring Route
    • Project duration: 66 months
    • Length: 4.8km
    • Tunnel length: 2.4km
    • Tunnel diameter: 13.1m (twin tunnels)
    • Maximum depth: 45m
    • Tunnelling method: Earth Pressure Balance Machine (EPBM) (10th largest ever TBM)
    • Completion: Early 2017
    • Project cost: NZ$1.4B

Urban design

The Waterview Connection project includes urban design and landscape initiatives that are designed to deliver outstanding outcomes for neighbouring communities.  In particular, they will leave these important residential areas well connected by walking and cycling, endowed with high quality recreational facilities, and with attractive and safe parks and reserves.

  • The Waterview Connection: much more than a motorway

    The Waterview Connection’s urban design initiatives reflect the Transport Agency’s increasing focus on better outcomes for the communities affected by large roading projects.  Each initiative is an example of using transport infrastructure as the catalyst for creating places that function better – for people and for nature.

    All the concepts shown here and the pages that follow are ‘works in progress’ as the urban design plans are still being finalised and approved by Auckland Council. They follow the overall design direction established by the Western Ring Route urban and landscape design framework which can be viewed here (external link) .

    South Methuen lookout view

    South Methuen lookout view

    South Methuen lookout view

    South Methuen lookout view


    North playground sketch

    North playground sketch

    South Alan Wood reserve noisewalls

    South Alan Wood reserve noisewalls

    South Valonia Street skatepark

    South Valonia Street skatepark

  • What’s happening in the north?

    The Waterview Connection motorway project will change the Waterview area dramatically. While there may be some short-term disruption for residents, there will also be significant long-term benefits.

    The Waterview Connection project includes a suite of urban design, landscaping and environmental enhancements as part of a ‘mitigation’ package. This has included the purchase of land to increase the size of Kuaka Park(formerly Saxon Reserve), new recreational facilities at the Waterview Reserve and riparian planting along a section of Oakley Creek.

    Finalising the final designs of urban design initiatives at Waterview is ongoing. The concepts you see here are just that – concepts.

    For the kids

    A skatepark

    Waterview will get an intermediate to advanced level skatepark with banks, rails, ramps and a hint of the area’s history and heritage. Its layout is being designed with input from local skaters, scooter riders and artists.

    A playground

    Waterview School pupils told us what they would like in their playground.

    Waterview School pupils told us what they would like in their playground.

    The playground is proposed for the corner of Waterbank Crescent and Herdman Street. It’s being design with input from Auckland Council staff, local community members and, importantly, pupils from Waterview Primary School.

    There will be traditional swings and slides, but perhaps also more physically challenging activities and sandpits.  Also, we are working with the Local Board to on other ideas for the park. 

    A BMX track

    A concrete BMX pump track will have a series of ‘table tops’ along the outbound run and rollers on the return.

     Celebrating the past

    A pedestrian bridge proposed across the Oakley Creek (Te Auanga) tidal inlet will open up an area with a rich history as well as provide a link from the Waterview Reserve to the shared pedestrian and cycle path alongside the Northwestern Motorway.

    We’re working with local history societies, the project archaeologist, Iwi, Historic Places Trust, Auckland Council and the local community on the final landscaping and design of this area, which includes the site of the Star Mill, Garrett Bros. tannery and areas of previous Maori occupation.

    Better connections

    A new path will run on the west side of Great North Road between Herdman Street and the pedestrian overbridge at the motorway interchange.  At the overbridge one branch will turn off to Carrington Road and another will head north-west through the interchange and into Eric Armishaw Reserve in Pt Chevalier.

    A shared cycle and pedestrian path is being designed by Auckland Council to go ‘overland’ (roughly following the route of the tunnel) between Great North Road in the north and Maioro Street in the south. This will connect the shared path alongside the Northwestern Motorway (SH16) and the path running from Maioro Street south to the Onehunga foreshore and Mangere.

    All existing shared paths in the project area will be retained or improved. The new shared paths are typically 3m wide with a brushed concrete finish.

    Improving the ecology

    An artist’s impression of what the northern ventilation building will look like

    An artist’s impression of what the northern ventilation building will look like

    The new Great North Road motorway interchange is a great opportunity for ecological improvement. There will be native plantings from the riparian freshwater margins of Oakley Creek (Te Auanga) and its estuarine tidal areas to higher ground at the edge of the motorway.  The plants will represent the vegetation that would have originally been found in this region of Auckland.
    A staged weed clearance programme will help the plants get established.

    Northern Ventilation Building and Stack

    The tunnels’ northern ventilation building will sit beneath the Herdman Street / Great North Road Junction, effectively hidden below ground apart from a building on the Herdman Street side that provides maintenance access.  The ventilation stack will be 120m away, on the east side of Great North Road.

  • What’s happening in the south?

    The Waterview Connection project provides an opportunity to realise the reserve’s potential as a place for both people and nature.  While some land will be lost to motorway development, the remaining park will be developed and landscaped to provide passive and active recreational spaces.

    Oakley Creek is being diverted away from the motorway route and, in the process, is being given a more natural look and feel. Wetlands will provide new wildlife habitats.  And extensive planting will make the Alan Wood Reserve an essential link in Auckland’s growing urban forest.

    Rehabilitation of the Alan Wood Reserve has been planned with input from the community and Auckland Council. 

    Better connections

    Walking and cycling connections in Alan Wood Reserve and to the neighbouring communities will improve. A series of new pedestrian footbridges is planned.  There will be a better choice of places to get into and leave the reserve.  And there will be more ways to walk or cycle once you are there.

    Part of the network of paths will connect the existing cycle routes along the Northwestern (SH16) and Southwestern (SH20) motorways.  It will be 3m wide so that it can be shared by families, pedestrians, skateboarders, cyclists (commuters and recreational), prams, buggies etc.  There will also be narrower connecting pedestrian-only paths.

    Hendon Park footbridge

    Hendon footbridge

    Hendon footbridge

    An icon of the Alan Wood Reserve will be an architecturally designed, elegant bridge over the motorway for pedestrians and cyclists.  Approximately 300m in total length, this structure will form the southern gateway to the reserve.

    New sports facilities

    New sports fields, a skatepark and volleyball and basketball courts will be built at the Alan Wood Reserve. A new intermediate to advanced level skatepark is planned for the corner of Valonia Street and Richardson Road. It will include terraced skate features running down the slope.  It is being designed by a focus group including Auckland Council, the Well-Connected Alliance and representatives of the skate community.

    Two full size permanent sports fields are being established in the Valonia Street area, with a carpark and toilet change facilities nearby. A single half size pitch is to be developed close to Hendon Avenue. 

    Oakley Creek diverted

    About 1km of Oakley Creek is being diverted

    About 1km of Oakley Creek is being diverted

    Oakley Creek runs through the Alan Wood Reserve and a large part of it has had to be diverted away from the motorway route.  This has provided an opportunity to release it from the confines of its basalt-lined trench and create a real creek with rock pools, bends, runs and riffles  - all the features traditionally associated with Auckland’s streams.

    This work has also increased the capacity of the stream, reducing the likelihood of flooding and improving the ecology.

    There has been no loss of aquatic life as a result of these diversions.  Our ecologists moved some 600 eels from the old to the new sections of the creek. 

    Dual purpose wetlands

    There are two new wetlands within Alan Wood Reserve, built to treat stormwater runoff from the new motorway.  The wetlands will bring more aquatic and birdlife to the reserve as well as improve water quality.

    Permanent noisewalls

    Permanent noise walls panels will be built in a number of places in and around the reserve. They will be designed to resemble basalt columns and boulders, and will replicate some of the colours found in the natural geology of the area.

    A place to take in the view

    Entrance to the viewing point at 110 Methuen Road

    Entrance to the viewing point at Methuen Road

    The reserve at 110 Methuen Road has been developed to provide excellent views of the construction. Longer term it will become a great lookout point for the new reserve. 

    Southern ventilation building

    an artist’s impression of the southern ventilation building

    an artist’s impression of southern ventilation building

    This building houses mechanical and electrical gear, water tanks for the tunnel sprinkler system as well as an extraction system for air leaving the southbound tunnel.  Much of the building will be underground and the ventilation stack will be situated in the middle of the motorway, between the entry and exit portals.

    The stack will rise 15 metres above surface level. This means 15 metres of the shaft will be visible from the surrounding area but will be designed and landscaped to look and feel part of the Alan Wood Reserve.

  • Protecting the area’s flora & fauna

    Protecting the area’s special flora and fauna was an important part of the project’s preparations for construction.

    Before any work began at the Alan Wood Reserve we moved protected copper skinks (lizards) to a new home. We also moved some 600 short finned and long finned eels from the old to the new sections of Oakley Creek.  And we collected plants and seeds of a geranium thought to grow only in the reserve.  These will be planted back into the reserve.

  • Archaeology

    Most relate to Maori occupation of the area, and largely consist of shell midden sites, with some evidence of food storage pits and living terraces along Oakley Creek, and a possible former settlement site near the Great North Road Interchange. Other sites relate to early European industry and settlement.

    Early European industries included the early flour mill (Star Mills), Garrett Brothers Tannery and quarry spanning both sides of the tidal stretch of Oakley Creek (Waterview Inlet). Housing associated with the mill and tannery was located along the northern side of Cowley Street/Great North Road, and the mill race also ran through this area.

    The former Carrington Hospital (now part of Unitec and a significant historic building) is located to the east of the project works. A 19th century artillery camp has also been recorded but its precise location is not known.

    Managing archaeological sites during works

    The project’s design has avoided known archaeological sites as much as possible. However it is highly likely that we will expose previously unknown subsurface archaeological remains. This is an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of what was once here. Qualified archaeologists monitor our earthworks and other ground disturbing activities such as building removal and tree clearance. 

    What we have found so far  

    Work began at the southern end of the project, in Owairaka, in January 2012. Although there are no known archaeological sites here, project archaeologists were on site to monitor all initial earthworks, the removal of vegetation, realignment of Oakley Creek and the construction of services and temporary features. No archaeological features or sites were found.

    Work at the northern portal in Waterview began in January 2013. This work was near the known ‘Star Mills’ flour mill and tannery site at 15 Cowley Street and in the vicinity of former mill workers’ houses north of Cowley Street.

    Project archaeologists identified the old mill race.  It was an important find, as the exact location and the construction details of the mill race were previously unknown.

    In the same area, two brick-lined drains, an old well and several bottle pits were identified. Some interesting 19th century artefacts recovered from the well and pits included an old school slate, ceramic pitcher, shoes, a lead bullet and decorated tobacco pipe. The location of the well and pits indicate they were associated with the mill workers’ cottages.

    Excavations on the southern side of the mill race revealed the remains of a brick kiln structure. This is another interesting find as historical records refer to brickmaking by the original mill owner, John Thomas, who in 1864 had a contract to supply bricks for the construction of the Whau Asylum (later Carrington Hospital). The location and type of kiln operated were unknown before being exposed during early works for construction of the northern tunnel approach trench.

    Remains of an old clay pipe

    Remains of an old clay pipe

    Other facts




Our partners

Introducing the Well-Connected Alliance

The Waterview Connection is being delivered by the Well-Connected Alliance comprising the NZ Transport Agency, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell Constructors, Beca Infrastructure, Tonkin & Taylor, Parsons Brinkerhoff and Obayashi Corporation.  Sub-alliance partners are Spanish tunnel controls specialists SICE NZ Ltd (Sociedad Ibérica de Construcciones Eléctricas) and New Zealand pre-cast concrete suppliers Wilson Tunnelling.

The delivery team also includes a host of New Zealand and international suppliers and contractors.

  • Why an alliance?

    Alliances are increasingly used to deliver complex and challenging design and construction of major infrastructure worldwide.

    Alliance projects involve the owner and non-owner participants collaborating to deliver a project, with all participants sharing the responsibility for project risks and for achieving project objectives. In an alliance all participants win or lose commercially depending on their collective performance against the client’s objectives. This creates an incentive for the participants to focus on what is ‘best for project’. 

    Compared with the ways projects are traditionally delivered, alliances rely more on developing trust and strong relationships to drive performance than on the legal and contractual relationship between participants. They are about forming teams and making those teams perform in an environment where culture, behaviour and team commitment are important.

    Project alliances generally work best when they must deliver complex and high-risk infrastructure projects where the risks are unpredictable and are best managed collectively. In this environment there is opportunity for joint problem solving and innovation to drive value for money outcomes for the client.

    The Well-Connected Alliance is just such an alliance. It brings together a high performance, integrated team to address the project’s complex design, construction, environmental and lifecycle issues.

  • Who’s who in the Well-Connected Alliance?

    The NZ Transport Agency

    The Transport Agency is the Crown agency responsible for delivering an affordable land transport system for New Zealand.  As the Owner Participant in the Well-Connected Alliance, it is responsible for funding the Waterview Connection and for ensuring the project contributes to an integrated, safe and sustainable transport network.

    Obayashi Corporation

    One of Japan’s leading listed companies, Obayashi has around 120 years of civil construction experience. In Japan and around the world, the company has completed more than 1000 bored tunnels in the past 45 years, with lengths totalling 1288km and contract sums totalling US$26 billion. On the Waterview Connection, Obayashi is contributing its expertise in tunnel engineering and construction, innovative technologies and construction solutions.

    For more information go to (external link)

    Fletcher Construction

    Fletcher has taken on mega-projects of challenging proportions and in demanding locations for more than 50 years. Its track record as a leading New Zealand infrastructure constructor includes many state highway projects.  In recent years they have included Grafton Gully, Central Motorway Junction, North Shore Busway, Manukau Harbour Crossing and Victoria Park Tunnel in Auckland, and the Tauranga Harbour Link.

    On the Waterview Connection, Fletcher shares responsibility for construction with McConnell Dowell Constructors.  It has particular responsibility for motorway construction, including bridges and the Great North Road Interchange.

    For more information go to (external link)

    McConnell Dowell (MacDow)

    MacDow is the largest tunnelling contractor in New Zealand with two recent successful tunnels in Auckland.  These are Project Hobson and Rosedale Outfall, each 3km long.

    MacDow has major engineering, construction, building and maintenance experience and employs approximately 7,500 personnel worldwide.  Notable international tunnelling projects include the Beauty World project in Singapore, which involves the design and construction of twin bored 1.1km of metro tunnels (TBM) including a new station, and the Eastern Distributor Project in Sydney.

    At the Waterview Connection, McDow shares the constructor role with Fletcher with particular responsibility for tunnel construction and the tunnel’s mechanical and electrical fit-out.

    For more information go to (external link)

    Beca Infrastructure

    Beca is New Zealand’s largest consulting engineering company and one of the largest employee-owned engineering and related consultancy services companies in the Asia Pacific. Beca was established in New Zealand in 1918 with only three employees and now has a substantial Asia Pacific footprint with over 2,500 employees working from 17 offices across the world.

    At the Waterview Connection, Beca has particular responsibility for design including planning, geometrics and hydrogeology.

    For more information go to (external link)

    Parsons Brinkerhoff

    Parsons Brinckerhoff brings more than 125 years of tunnelling and civil design expertise to the Waterview Connection project.  PB designs have resulted in record-setting advances with tunnel boring machines. The company has pioneered the use of innovations such as earth-pressure-balance and slurry-face tunnelling techniques and fibre-reinforced concrete liners. PB also designs systems for tunnel operations including communications, fire protection and safety.

    At the Waterview Connection, PB has particular responsibility for design and design management, tunnel operating and safety systems, and tunnel ventilation.

    For more information go to (external link)

    Tonkin & Taylor Ltd

    Founded in 1959, Tonkin & Taylor is a New Zealand employee-owned, international environmental and engineering consultancy with strong geological and geotechnical design capabilities and project experience in more than 40 companies. As a local Auckland company, T&T has an intimate knowledge of Auckland’s geology, and has been involved in some key local road and utility tunnel projects.

    At the Waterview Connection, T&T works particularly on geotechnical, ecology,  hydrology/stream diversion and environmental design.

    For more information go to (external link)

    SICE NZ Ltd (Sociedad Ibérica de Construcciones Eléctricas)

    Spanish company SICE specialises in providing added value services, as well as integrating technologies in the fields of intelligent transport and environmental control systems. It has 2300 employees in 25 countries.

    SICE’s projects include more than 100 tunnels and 20 tunnel control centres. It developed the total integration of the Calle 30 tunnels in Madrid (a worldwide urban tunnel reference).

    At the Waterview Connection, SICE is a sub-alliance partner responsible for the mechanical and electrical design for the tunnel systems and the tunnel operations.

    For more information go to (external link)

    Wilson Tunnelling

    Auckland company Wilson Tunnelling specialises in the production of precision pre- tunnel lining segments. It has produced some 79,000 segments over three successful infrastructure projects including Project Hobson and the Rosedale Outfall.

    Wilson Tunnelling uses the latest technology to ensure that production, quality and delivery meet the highest standards.  Its systems include fully automated carrousel systems, on-site concrete batching, comprehensive laboratory testing and the latest in lifting and transport systems.

    As a sub-alliance partner of the Well-Connected Alliance, Wilson Tunnelling will produce the 24,040 lining segments needed for the Waterview tunnels at a state-of-the art new pre-cast facility in East Tamaki.

    For more information go to (external link)


Our partners on this project