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Project introduction

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has been investigating long-term improvements in the safety of SH1 between Cambridge (where the Waikato Expressway ends) and Piarere (at the SH1 and SH29 intersection).

  • Estimated project cost

    To be confirmed
  • Project type

    Road improvements
  • Project status

    In detailed business case development

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Purpose of the project

To investigate long-term improvements in the safety of SH1 between Cambridge and Piarere.


The detailed business case looking at the long-term strategic route between Cambridge and Piarere was put on hold for re-evaluation in 2018. Since then focus has been placed on works to prioritise safety and access on the existing state highway.

In January 2020, as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme, funding was approved for a new roundabout to be constructed in the vicinity of the existing SH1/SH29 intersection at Piarere. This roundabout will be on the alignment that forms part of any future extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere.

Read more about the NZ Upgrade Programme's SH1/SH29 intersection project

Work to complete the detailed business case for the Cambridge to Piarere corridor was therefore recommenced. The earlier work was reviewed, updated, completed and recently presented to the Board.

The Waka Kotahi Board has now endorsed the business case which means Waka Kotahi can now progress to protect the preferred route.

This means the Notice of Requirement will be prepared and lodged under the Resource Management Act to enable route protection, which is the identification and protection of the land which could be the footprint for future public work.

The application will also involve the lodgement of regional consents to address the requirements of the Waikato Regional Council. It is planned to submit these in the later part of 2022, subject to completing RMA assessments as scheduled.

As part of developing the applications, further consultation and discussions with landowners, mana whenua, local government, the community, and local businesses will continue. There will be opportunities for the community to get involved soon.

Once route protection is secured, the next stages, after funding is confirmed, include detailed design, tendering and construction.

No funding has yet been allocated for construction of the 16km extension and is not expected until later in the decade. However, route protection is a very important step to ensure we are ready to proceed if and when funding is made available.

The total cost of the project is currently estimated to be approximately $635m. There is no funding available in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to prioritise this project for detailed design and construction before the 2027 – 2030 period.

Cambridge to Piarere - detailed business case [PDF, 14 MB]

Please note there are detailed business case appendices still to be added to the website and these should be available shortly.

Cambridge to Piarere - route protection [PDF, 140 KB]

Map of the general location of the preferred route [JPG, 339 KB]

Please note that this preferred route may change after design and specialist input is obtained.

Safety improvements

Safety improvements already completed on this section include:

  • The first stage of median barrier installation, from Fergusson Gully Road 2.5km south towards Piarere (completed in December 2020).
  • Trimming vegetation and moving fences to improve visibility at Ferguson Gully Road.
  • New right-turn bay at Keeley Reserve.
  • Moving the Karapiro Road bus stop.
  • Moving the Karapiro School bus stop to a safer location.
  • Installing electronic warning signs at the SH1/SH29 intersection.

Waka Kotahi plans to continue to enhance safety improvements along the current SH1. The additional improvements will reduce the number of serious crashes and the impact of crashes if they do occur.

The second stage of median barriers will run for 4.5km from the reserve near where the stage 1 barriers finish through to Maungatautari Road. Designs are being completed and will shortly be shared with the community before being finalised.

Funding will be sought from the Road to Zero Speed and Infrastructure Programme to progress design and implementation of a third stage of an additional 7.9km of safety improvements from the current end of the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway to Fergusson Gully Road. This includes improving intersections such as SH1 / Karapiro Road. The highway from south of Maungatautari Road to Piarere (1.4km) will also be made safer.

Having median barriers and associated turnaround facilities on the majority of the length of SH1 between the Cambridge end of the Waikato Expressway and the SH1/29 intersection will result in a significant improvement in safety.

Information on safety improvements starting soon