Project introduction

The Connecting Tairāwhiti – Passing Opportunities project aims to provide more safe places to pass slow vehicles and more places to pull off the road safely to check messages or take a break on State Highways 2 and 35 across the Tairāwhiti and Northen Hawke’s Bay regions.

  • Estimated project dates

    Nov 2019–Sep 2024
  • Project type

    Road improvements

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Project overview

We know that the highways in and out of Tairāwhiti are long and winding, and travel through some unforgiving terrain.

Communities and stakeholders have told us about the increasing numbers of slow trucks causing frustration and unsafe behaviour, and the lack of phone reception and safe places to pull over for long stretches. We heard that more passing opportunities and safe places to pull over would help improve the driver experience.

We have worked with the community to identify and prioritise the best locations to add more safe and effective passing opportunities on State Highways 2 (SH2) and 35 (SH35).

As part of the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, $32.65 million of Provincial Growth Fund investment and $2.83m of National Land Transport Programme funding has been allocated to a package of passing opportunities on State Highway 2 and State Highway 35.

  • What is a passing opportunity?

    Passing opportunities within the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme include slow vehicle lanes and pull over sites.

    A slow vehicle lane is a widened stretch of road on an uphill incline that allows slow, heavy vehicles, such as trucks and buses, to pull over as they slow down – allowing faster vehicles to pass.

    A pull over site is where vehicles can get off the road to either let others pass or park to check phone messages or stretch their legs.

  • Connecting Tairāwhiti project benefits

    The Connecting Tairāwhiti programme’s passing opportunities projects aims to reduce driver frustration and improve safety on SH2 and SH35. Some of the other benefits of the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, including the resilience project, are:

    • Alongside the recovery roadworks happening post Cyclone Gabrielle, Connecting Tairawhiti aims to improve the resilience and reliability of the road network around and across the East Coast - reducing the frequency and duration of disruption. It will improve access for social opportunities for locals and visitors alike, enable the economy to reach its potential and help the region meet climate change challenges.
    • It is estimated that there will be an annual travel time saving of up to 2,030 hours across Connecting Tairāwhiti sites, for approximately 270 road users who would experience increased travel due to weather disruption, noting that recovery works across sites covered by TREC may cause temporary delays.

    Other social, economic and environmental benefits include the development of stronger relationships through proactive work with landowners, iwi and hapū groups in both the design and implementation phases of the project, reduced travel times, employment opportunities and native tree planting. 

    SH35 resilience project

  • Improving communication across Tairāwhiti

    Community engagement for the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme business case also showed the need for mobile phone laybys where people can stop and check their messages safely. These stretches of road are often in mobile phone blackspots, and these stopping areas will create a safe way for people to stay connected where there is reception.


Latest updates on Connecting Tairāwhiti Passing Opportunities projects

The Connecting Tairāwhiti Passing Opportunities project aims to provide more safe places to pass slow vehicles and more places to pull off the road safely to check messages or take a break on State Highways 2 and 35 across the Tairāwhiti and Northern Hawke’s Bay regions.

  • SH2 Kotemaori slow vehicle bay – COMPLETE

    Works on this site are now complete.

    Waka Kotahi has constructed a new northbound slow vehicle bay at Kotemaori on SH2 to allow slower vehicles to pull over to allow faster vehicles to pass.

    In November 2020, a blessing ceremony was carried out by Ngāti Pahuwera representatives and in July 2021 a tree planting and karakia marked the end of the project. This was attended by 16 pupils of Kotemaori School, Ngāti Pahauwera, New Zealand Police, Higgins, WSP and Waka Kotahi representatives.

    View the Kotemaori slow vehicle bay tree planting video

  • SH2 Matahorua Bride slow vehicle bay – COMPLETE

    Works on this site are now complete.

    Waka Kotahi has repurposed a pull off area to create a slow vehicle bay at Matahorua, on SH2 between Tutira and Putorino.

    Works were carried out by Russell Roads over December 2020 and January 2021.

  • SH2 Otoko Hill shoulder widening – COMPLETE

    Travellers are asked to plan ahead for three overnight road closures SH2 at Otoko, between Hihiroroa Road North and Fitzgerald Road, between 8pm-5am each night beginning Monday 19 February. This work is improving the surface of the state highway.

    Night time closures planned for SH2 at Otoko for resurfacing

    Escorted convoys will be available each night at the following times and locations:

    • 10:15pm and 1:15am leaving northbound from the intersection with Whatatutu Rd. 
    • 10:30pm and 1:30am leaving southbound from Matawai Village. 

    Road users must be at the convoy points on time to be allowed through. Note these convoys are not suitable for oversized vehicles. 

    These works are dependent on various factors and may be rescheduled. 

    Thank you for your patience and understanding while the resurfacing works take place.

  • SH2 Kakariki slow vehicle bay – UNDERWAY

    Works are underway to construct a new slow vehicle bay on SH2, near Kotemaori School.

    A stretch of SH2, near the intersection with Kakariki Farm Road, is under traffic management while the slow vehicle bay is constructed. Stop/Go traffic control, along with a temporary 30km/h speed limit are in place.

    The 260-metre slow vehicle bay will allow another place for road users to safely pass slow vehicles, providing a safer opportunity for passing as road users head north to Wairoa. It will help reduce driver frustration, enable people to safely pass slower vehicles and continue their journey in a timely way.

    In addition to the construction of a slow vehicle bay, we are also making safety improvements to Kotemaori School’s access on SH2, including a safe right-turn bay to access the school. 

    The project is expected to be completed in April 2024.

    This stretch of SH2 has seen a lot of construction and maintenance activity over the past few months as the region recovers and rebuilds from Cyclone Gabrielle. We understand the additional temporary stop/go traffic management will cause delays but we’re confident the slow vehicle bay will ultimately lead to more efficient and safer travel on this part of the journey.

    This work is part of the Connecting Tairawhiti programme of works.

    kakariki slow vehicle bay

  • SH2 Maraetaha shoulder widening – UNDERWAY

    SH2 Maraetaha roadworks are planned to commence February 2024, located approximately 4km from Muriwai.

    These works will extend the northbound road shoulder approximately 800m to enable safer overtaking manoeuvres. Works are expected to take 3 months to complete, weather dependant. 

    Construction of a mobile phone layby at the South Wharerata lookout will occur as part of this programme. 

    Works will be completed in stages. A shoulder closure with 50km/hr temporary speed restriction will be put in place at the start of the works, followed by temporary traffic lights and a 30km/h temporary speed restriction as works progress. This will be in place on Monday to Saturday 6.30am to 6.30pm. Delays of up to 10 minutes are expected.

  • SH35 Puketiti slow vehicle bay extension – UNDERWAY

    Work is underway at Puketiti 4km south of Te Puia Springs, with earthworks currently taking place and progressing well.

    This is to extend the northbound slow vehicle bay 250m to enable safer overtaking manoeuvres.

    Traffic management is in place including traffic signals and temporary speed restrictions of 30km/hr. Please plan ahead for delays of up to 15 minutes.


Project partner

Provincial Growth Fund logo

This project is part of the Tairāwhiti roading package, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)and the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

The Provincial Development Unit’s Provincial Growth Fund has invested $32 million into fully funding this project.

Provincial Growth Fund(external link)
NLTF: Gisborne/Tairāwhiti regional summary