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Project introduction

The project will provide a safer, more resilient and reliable route between Pūhoi and Warkworth. It will extend the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) 18.5km from the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels to just north of Warkworth.

About this project

In November 2016, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency awarded a Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract to the Northern Express Group (NX2) for the project. Under the PPP contract, the Northern Express Group will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway for the 25 years that will follow the expected six-year period to build the motorway. Full ownership of the highway will remain with the public sector.

Work is progressing well on the Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth - one of the country’s largest state highway projects, which will provide a safer, more resilient gateway to the north.

Like many construction projects, Pūhoi to Warkworth has experienced delays due to the country’s ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response. Last year’s lengthy lockdown periods in Auckland for example, required works onsite to stop altogether, which naturally caused delays to the programme of works.

Because this is a PPP, road opening is determined by contractual agreements and obligations. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic response on these contractual matters, and in turn the programme of works, is currently being worked through with our partners.

Waka Kotahi will provide an update on the expected opening date as soon this work is complete.

For the latest construction updates, please visit the NX2 website at link)

For information about the previous investigation, consenting and procurement phases of the project, please read the project phases sections below:

  • Route investigation and community consultation (2010–2012)

    The project team, working with consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), completed a detailed study of the route in 2010 and 2011. The study considered all issues associated with the road’s construction from the technical, environmental and community perspectives. The topics examined in the study included:

    • Location and form of road improvements

    • Social impacts such as noise, air quality and the effect on the local community

    • Tangata whenua and the cultural impacts of potential routes

    • Property impacts

    • Geotechnical and topography considerations

    • Ecological impacts and the effect on historic areas

    • Connections to the local roading network and walking and cycling access

    • Staging and costs

    • Opportunities to accelerate the project

    Community input was sought through two rounds of consultation. The first round associated with the route investigation was carried out between 21 June and 16 August 2010. A large amount of feedback was received and a map summarising feedback [PDF, 347 KB](external link)  was prepared.

    The second round of consultation took place between 16 November 2010 and 28 January 2011 with the release of the indicative route for the Pūhoi to Warkworth section. Again a large amount of feedback was received and this is summarised in newsletter 5 [PDF, 430 KB].

    The findings of investigations into the Pūhoi to Warkworth section of the route were considered alongside community feedback to announce a preferred route in April 2012. For more information on the Pūhoi to Warkworth preferred route please read newsletter 6 [PDF, 527 KB]

  • Obtaining statutory approvals (2013–September 2014)

    Detailed reports that outlined the potential environmental effects of the project were lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) at the end of August 2013 to support the Notice of Requirement application to build the road.

    The EPA notified and collected submissions on the Pūhoi to Warkworth proposal between 16 November and 13 December 2013. An independent Board of Inquiry heard submissions from the public at a hearing between 7 April and 5 June 2014. The Board confirmed the designation and resource consents on 12 September 2014.

    View the application documents online.

    Read the final report on the EPA website(external link).

  • Procurement (2015–2016)

    In November 2016 the Transport Agency awarded a PPP Contract to the Northern Express Group (NX2) to deliver the motorway in late 2021.

    For more information about the Public Private Partnership model, please read the PPP page.

  • Tolling consultation

    There was a robust process to assess the route and the road was recommended for tolling in March 2020. Waka Kotahi consulted with the community and presented a comprehensive proposal for tolling but the Minister has decided that there will not be a toll on Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth.

    Information about the tolling proposal



There will be a number of transport benefits as a result of the project including:

  • Improved safety and connectivity.
  • Improved journey time reliability.
  • Easier freight movements.
  • Boosting the economic potential of the Northland region.

Project flyover – September 2022

Drone footage of the Ara Tūhono - Pūhoi to Warkworth Motorway project area from August 2022, flying from Warkworth in the North to Pūhoi in the South.

Our partners on this project