The wait is almost over – Ara Tūhono - Pūhoi to Warkworth to provide a gateway to Northland


The wait is nearly over for north Aucklanders, with Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway set to open to traffic in the coming days, following this morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony on the new road. 

The road has been delivered as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) by Northern Express Group (NX2) and Waka Kotahi has negotiated an early access arrangement, allowing the new motorway to open while non-critical finishing works are undertaken.

“There has been a tremendous effort from all parties to get this agreement across the line and I’d like to thank NX2 and their sub-contractors Fletcher/Acciona for their hard work over the last seven years. While there’s still minor finishing work to do, we’re confident that the road is safe, and people can begin to reap the benefits of this new world class motorway” says Waka Kotahi General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon.

People using the road can expect to see work continuing around the motorway for several months which will include work on the Pūhoi on and off-ramps, some earthworks, seasonal planting and final clean-up of works areas.

The project was gifted the name Ara Tūhono by Treaty partners Hōkai Nuku which means ‘a connecting pathway’. This is exactly what the new road will deliver, offering a gateway to Northland, unlocking and boosting its economic potential.

Waka Kotahi has worked closely with Hōkai Nuku, a collaboration between Ngāti Manuhiri, Te Uri o Hau, Ngāti Rango of Kaipara and Ngāti Whātua, as a project partner since 2010. Their mahi toi (artwork) mark the gateways to the 18.5km motorway, acknowledging the footprint of the ancestors of the whenua.

The new motorway has been built to the very highest safety standards and will provide people travelling through the region with a separated motorway and vastly improve the safety, connectivity, and resilience of the network between Northland and Auckland.

“The road is a crucial connection for freight and people. It will improve journey time reliability and ease freight movements, connecting the Northland region with Auckland and beyond. It also provides an alternative route to the existing State Highway 1 (SH1) which had to close numerous times this year due to severe weather events.

“Ensuring we have other transport options forms a more resilient and sustainable transport system which enables people to get to where they need to go safely” says Mr Gliddon.

Today also marked the completion of Te Honohono ki Tai Road – the Matakana Link Road, delivered by Auckland Transport which links SH1 and Matakana Road with 1.35km of new road plus off-road pedestrian and cycling facilities. This will support the significant population growth expected in the area and improve network resilience in Warkworth.

Waka Kotahi is reminding drivers that, as with the opening of most major new roads, some disruption and congestion at entry and exit points can be expected as motorists adjust to new road layouts and travel patterns change.  

“It could take some time for journey times to settle, as people try different routes and become familiar with the new motorway. We’re asking people to be patient as these new journey patterns settle.”

Mr Gliddon says people are also advised to avoid the temptation of trying to be the first to enjoy the new motorway.

“We don’t advertise a specific opening time for moving traffic on to any large new road, in order to avoid congestion and the potential for crashes with people queuing up to be first on the new road. We understand why people are excited – Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth is a stunning piece of infrastructure, but there is plenty of time to enjoy it.”

The opening of the road to traffic also marks the beginning of the next phase of the PPP contract which covers the operation and maintenance of the road. As the contractor for the new road, NX2 will operate and maintain the motorway for the next 25 years. After that, it will be handed over to Waka Kotahi at an agreed standard.

The Pūhoi southbound on-ramp will close immediately after the new road opens, 24/7, for approximately four weeks and the Pūhoi northbound off-ramp will close at night immediately after the new road opens, from 9pm to 5am daily, for approximately two weeks.

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