Historic day for New Zealand’s main road


The NZ Transport Agency today completed sealing the final stretch of State Highway 1 near Cape Reinga in Northland, and for the first time motorists can now drive the entire 2,022 kilometres of SH1 from the Cape to Bluff in Southland on a sealed road.

The final 100 metres of the highway was sealed near the community of Waitiki Landing. 

NZTA Regional Director for Auckland and Northland Wayne McDonald said the completion of sealing marked a significant milestone in the development of Northland and New Zealand’s roading infrastructure, “State Highway One is in many ways the backbone of the country, playing an increasingly important role in the lives of New Zealanders and visitors to our country,” Mr McDonald said.  

Mr McDonald said that nationally, completing the seal boosted tourism with an easier drive to Cape Reinga, and locally it would provide safer journeys and reduce isolation for residents who relied on the road to access larger centres.

Mr McDonald said upgrading the final 19 kilometres of SH1 to Cape Reinga would also boost the region’s economic development and improve safety.

New Zealand’s state highway system for main roads was introduced 57 years ago in 1953. State Highway 1 originally went no further north than Waitiki Landing. The 19 kilometres to Cape Reinga was taken over as an unsealed state highway in 2004 by the NZTA’s predecessor, Transit New Zealand. 

Work began in September 2007, on a $19M project to improve the highway between Waitiki Landing and Cape Reinga. The narrow and unsealed road with its sharp curves was unsuitable for the increasing volumes of traffic going to the Cape and Ninety Mile Beach.

“The clouds of dust that used to plague drivers heading for the Cape are now a thing of the past,” Mr McDonald said. “The drive will be a lot more enjoyable and safer, with clearer visibility for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who are also sharing the road.”    

Mr McDonald acknowledged the support for the project from local Maori – Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri – and the Department of Conservation.  A plant nursery run by iwi is growing more than 300,000 native seedlings from plants unique to the Cape Reinga region that are being planted beside the road. DOC has also improved visitor facilities at the Cape.

“A very successful team effort has brought a first class highway to this important part of New Zealand,” Mr McDonald said.  

Although sealing is complete, there are still several months of work associated with the improvements to be done before the project is completed.  
To request images of the sealing please call 09 307 3937.