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road from tokoroa to taupo

SH1 Piarere to Taupō – safe roads and roadsides

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Project Introduction

We’re making State Highway 1 between Piarere and Taupō safer for everyone. This project is part of Road to Zero, New Zealand’s road safety strategy.

  • Estimated project cost

    $18 million for first stages
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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We’re making your road safer

We’re making State Highway 1 between Piarere and Taupō safer for everyone. This project is part of Road to Zero – NZ’s road safety strategy.

Road to Zero

We’ve prioritised three high-risk sections of SH1 between Tokoroa and Taupō to upgrade first.

  • Construction of flexible median safety barriers and roadside barriers north of Maroa Road to Tram Road (a 4.5km section) started in May 2022 and is expected to be completed early in 2023 (see map below).
  • Then we will look at determining the safety improvements for a 6.9km long section of SH1 from Ātiamuri Bridge to Thorpe Road and a 5km stretch from the top of Tar Hill/Maungaiti Hill, south towards SH30. The timing of construction for these two sections is subject to funding being confirmed.

Opportunities for safety improvements on the rest of SH1 Piarere to Taupō will be investigated and constructed if and when funding becomes available.

How we’re making it safer

To make this stretch of SH1 safer we are:

  • putting in flexible median safety barriers to prevent head-on collisions
  • installing roadside safety barriers where roadside hazards can’t be removed such as power poles, trees and deep ditches
  • widening the road shoulders to give drivers more room and space to pull over in an emergency
  • laying new line marking and putting in flexible ‘safe hit’ posts where needed
  • reconstructing and resealing the road
  • creating safe areas to pull over for maintenance workers and emergency services.

Design and construction

Where we propose roadside barriers, we generally widen the road and leave gaps at intersections and other locations where it is safe to do so. This provides places to pull over if there is a breakdown or emergency. The gaps in the median barriers (where needed) provide places to turn right where it makes the most sense – and where it is safe – to do so.

Within the sections planned for improvement in this area, we are looking to provide right-turn opportunities at intersections with local roads. We know there are many different access needs for properties and are mindful to plan for residents, local businesses, trucking, and agricultural vehicle movements.

As we design these safety barriers we engage with iwi partners, key stakeholders, potentially affected landowners, road users and the community throughout the project.

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About flexible road safety barriers

Flexible road safety barriers prevent head-on crashes and therefore make a big difference in reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured if someone makes a mistake.

Barriers keep vehicles on the road. When you hit a flexible barrier, the steel cables flex, slowing your vehicle and keeping it upright. They absorb the impact and help protect you and your passengers.

More information about flexible road safety barriers

Watch the video about installing flexible road safety barriers on State Highway 1 south of Cambridge (from Fergusson Gully Road in a southerly direction for 2.5km). 

Other safety and infrastructure projects in the region

We are also working on a number of safety and infrastructure improvements for the region. Find out more:

SH1 Taupō projects

SH1/SH29 intersection

SH1 Cambridge to Piarere safety improvements