Skip to content

Access keys for

  • h Home
  • m Menu
  • 0 Show list of access keys
  • 2 Skip to content
  • 3 Skip to top
awhc banner

Project introduction

Together with the Auckland Harbour Bridge, an additional Waitematā Harbour crossing will play a critical role in supporting New Zealand’s economic and social well-being.

  • Estimated project cost

    $100 million +
  • Project type

    Road improvements
  • Project status



An additional Waitematā Harbour crossing, together with the Auckland Harbour Bridge, will enable greater options for the movement of people and freight across the harbour.  These transport options will support the expected growth in Auckland’s population and mitigate possible consequences of potential future weight restrictions on the bridge.


Together with the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing will:

  • Support the rapid growth of Auckland’s population which is predicted to grow by up to 1 million people over the next 30 years.

  • Play a critical role in supporting economic growth as a major freight corridor, enabling goods and services to move safely and reliably throughout New Zealand.  Future traffic predictions indicate that weight restrictions may be required on the Auckland Harbour Bridge to ensure the longevity of the iconic structure.  Collectively more than 55% of New Zealand’s freight moves through the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

  • Offer greater transport options for crossing the harbour including the potential for public transport, walking and cycling facilities and improvements to public space. 

  • Improve the resilience and performance of Auckland’s transport network, increasing capacity, and providing an alternative route in the event of an incident on the network.

  • Ease congestion and improve travel times for motorists and freight.

  • Enable another channel for essential services such as water, electricity, gas and telecommunications providing more capacity and continuity of supply, particularly important during an emergency.

History of the Additional Harbour Crossing

Since 1988 there have been a number of studies investigating an additional crossing of the Waitematā Harbour and key steps undertaken.  A summary of this is below. 

  • Summary of events




    Waitematā Harbour Crossing Study: considered a range of alternative options for an additional crossing.  It recommended that priority be given to increasing the capacity of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.


    Waitematā Harbour Crossing Study: built on the previous study identifying a range of road and public transport options for an additional crossing.  A crossing in the vicinity of the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge was recommended.  A Technical Advisory Group oversaw the conduct and outcome of the project and included Auckland Regional Council, Auckland City Council, North Shore City Council, Waitakere City Council and Transit New Zealand (now NZ Transport Agency).


    Construction Feasibility Study : considered in detail 8 alternative crossing alignments.  A new bridge 500m west of Auckland Harbour Bridge and an immersed tube tunnel across the harbour to Wynyard Wharf were identified as options for further investigation.


    Screening of Possible Options : considered 8 options identified by the 1997 and 2002 studies.  A tunnel from Esmonde Road to the Western Reclamation was recommended as the preferred option.


    Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing : considered options for both rail and road crossings in 2 phases.  A list of 159 location options was developed in Phase 1 of the study.  Phase 2 involved detailed investigations of 3 of the identified options.  Assessments were made of the economic, social and environmental effects at a strategic level of detail.  The study recommended a preferred route for an additional crossing to be operated in conjuction with the Auckland Harbour Bridge between Esmonde Road and the central motorway junction.  The recommended option consisted of two bored tunnels with three lanes in each direction for road traffic and two separate single track bored tunnels for rail passenger transport. 


    Form Assessment Study Report – considered the form of the crossing (ie bridge vs tunnel) and found that a tunnel would have less visual, environmental and land use impacts than a bridge. 


    In December the Transport Agency and KiwiRail served a number of Notices of Requirement (NoRs) for designations within both Auckland City and North Shore City District Plans for the protection of the land.


    Preliminary Business Case. The Minister of Transport asked the Transport Agency to develop a Preliminary Business Case with a focus on the costs and economic efficiency of the different options.  Copies of the reports are available here.

    Key findings include:

    • An additional harbour crossing for freight and through traffic needs to be in place in approximately 20 years.
    • The road bridge costs estimate is $3.9billion and the road tunnel cost estimate is $5.3 billion with a further $1.6 billion for separate rail tunnels.  These are the upper end of the range of cost estimates.
    • The Northern Busway has enough capacity to cater for passenger growth for the next 30 years and the case for rail to the North Shore is difficult to justify before then.


    Public Submissions on the Draft Auckland Plan indicated Auckland residents’ preference for the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing to be a tunnel


    The Auckland Plan formally adopted which identified the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing as 1 of 3 strategic projects required to serve the growth in Auckland.

    Combined Tunnel Feasibility Report: A study of the feasibility and implications of combining the proposed road and rail crossing into two tunnels, each tunnel carrying road and rail. It was determined that combined tunnels were feasible, based on the current knowledge of the ground conditions and connections.



    The Transport Minister asked the Transport Agency to take immediate steps to further develop the project.  The Agency will engage professional advisers to help future proof the route.


Crossing the Harbour

Current Harbour Crossing concept.
Download larger map. [PDF, 809 KB]

The tunnels could include:

  • 2 multi-modal double decker or 4 single level tunnels

  • Provision for rapid transit

  • 3 lanes per tunnel

  • another channel for essential services such as water, electricity, gas and telecommunications.


Auckland Harbour Bridge

  • will provide connection to and from Auckland CBD

  • will allow for dedicated public transport options and walking and cycling facilities. 

  • How was the route selected?

    In 2008, a study assessing 159 crossing options was completed and included a wide range of possibilities.  The route between Esmonde and Onewa Roads and the central motorway junction was selected as the preferred option due to cost, environmental, implementation and operational reasons.  This route will connect with the central motorway junction, the Port, Southern motorway and upgraded Northwestern motorway.

    Alternative sites, routes and methods for providing an Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing have been under consideration for over 20 years with a number of studies conducted.  For more information about these studies and the background of the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing, please see History and Technical Reports.

  • Why a tunnel?
    • A study in 2009 considered the form of the crossing and found that a tunnel would have less environmental, visual and land use impacts on the harbour than a bridge.
    • Submissions received from Auckland residents as part of the draft Auckland Plan supported a tunnel as the preferred option for the additional crossing.
    • The Prime Minister announced in June 2013 the government’s commitment to the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing and agreed it should be in the form of a tunnel.

Looking forward

The next phase of the project is to protect the preferred route.  The objective of route protection is to designate the land which will provide planning certainty for the area.

In order to designate the land the Transport Agency will work with consultants to prepare the required Notices of Requirement (NoRs).  These NoRs will go through the appropriate public hearing process.

See approximate timeframes and activities below that are planned for this phase of work. 




Preparation of Notices of Requirement, Assessment of Effects on the Environment and technical reports


Submit Notices of Requirement


Statutory Approval Hearings


Designation Decision

HAVE YOUR SAY – Community engagement will form a critical part of each project phase. In 2016, once initial planning stages are underway, the Transport Agency will be seeking your feedback, through a wide range of channels. Regular project updates will be available as the route protection phase of the project develops.

Beyond route protection

Should the designation be approved, the NZ Transport Agency will prepare a detailed business case for the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing which will determine when the crossing is needed.

The Auckland Plan currently identifies the Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing will be required around 2030. It is estimated that the crossing will take approximately 5 to 7 years to build and extensive pre-planning, consultation and design is required before construction can start.