Project introduction

Between 2009 and 2018, 25 people died and 66 seriously injured on this stretch of SH2 between Waihī and Ōmokoroa. Most crashes were caused by running off the road, head-on collisions and intersection crashes. The improvements being made are proven to save lives and reduce risk of crashes.

  • Estimated project cost

    $164 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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Tirohanga whānui kaupapa – project overview

We're making State Highway 2 (SH2) between Waihī and Ōmokoroa safer for everyone who uses this increasingly busy road. Work to improve this 40km corridor, including road and shoulder widening, installing a wide centreline, flexible road safety barriers in high-risk areas, and intersection improvements, has been underway since 2019.

The installation of flexible median barriers, and additional intersection upgrades to provide safe turnaround points between Tetley Road and Esdaile Road, are a critical aspect of this project.

The design solutions and improvements we’ve investigated and selected for SH2 will help to keep people safe. The work we are doing will save lives and reduce the risk of crashes. The evidence tells us this.

While the changes may mean some people need to travel further to make a right turn, or consider their journeys differently following these upgrades, the consequence of not making it home altogether is far, far worse.

Road to Zero

This project is being delivered as part of Road to Zero, New Zealand’s road safety strategy, which aims to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on New Zealand's roads by 40 percent by 2050.

No one expects to crash, but people make mistakes – including those of us who are usually careful and responsible drivers. Through Road to Zero, we are creating a safe transport system; one that recognises that people make mistakes and is designed so that these mistakes do not need to cost us our lives.

What we are doing 

To make this stretch of road safer we are:

  • widening the road
  • putting in a wide centreline to help separate oncoming traffic
  • widening the road shoulders to give drivers more room
  • putting in roadside safety barriers where there are hazards such as power poles, trees and deep ditches
  • making intersections safer
  • installing flexible median barrier and turnaround areas.

These improvements will save lives and will raise the safety rating of the state highway.

Flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades (roundabouts)

Every day, 15,000 vehicles travel this section of highway – and that figure is growing by around 2-3% each year. More vehicles on the road, means more risk, and 40% of the crashes that resulted in death or serious injury on this section of highway were due to head-on collisions.

By installing median barriers, we can prevent many of these happening in the future. And by combining median and side barriers, we can reduce road-related trauma by 75%. We have the case studies to support this.

In 2022, funding was made available for this part of the project. Since then, we’ve spoken widely with the community about our plan to include flexible median barriers as an extra safety enhancement to this project, as part of New Zealand’s Road to Zero strategy.

With any large road safety project there’s a balance between community safety and convenience, and at many of our community engagement sessions we’ve heard varying perspectives on this. For progress to happen, a balance must be struck, and decisions made.

We know flexible median barriers work. When you hit a flexible barrier, the cables flex, slowing your vehicle and keeping it upright. They’re designed to absorb the impact, protecting you and others in the vehicle, ensuring your vehicle isn’t deflected into another traffic lane. 

Once median barrier is in place, you may need to change the way you use the road.  When leaving the side road you live on, rather than waiting for an opportunity to turn right across a busy state highway, you’ll turn left and travel to the nearest roundabout.  There will be six safe turnaround areas on this stretch of SH2.

The roundabouts will be spaced  every three to five kilometres, and will make turning right much safer for those who live along SH2. Roundabouts can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by at least 60%, because they make head-on and side impact crashes much less likely, and lower vehicle speeds.

Crashes cost our community in many ways. These changes will require some patience and understanding, but they will make the road safer for everyone.

Roundabout distances map

Project timeline


SH2 Waihī to Tauranga programme business case


Design and public consultation on safety improvements

Consents lodged


Construction begins on safety improvements – the 40km stretch of SH2 is split into 10 sections


One of 10 sections completed - Heath Road to Trig Road


Four of 10 sections completed - Trig Road to Mathers Road, Mathers Road to Athenree Gorge, and Wharawhara Road to Sharp Road


Six of 10 sections completed - Kauri Point Road to Lindemann Road, and Wainui South Road to Esdaile Road

Further consultation on flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades takes place


Funding confirmed for the installation of flexible median barrier and six intersection upgrades to provide safe turnaround points, under the Road to Zero programme.

Seven of 10 sections completed – Sharp Road to Sargent Drive

Eight of 10 sections completed – Athenree Road to Tanners Point Road

Roundabout at Rea Road and Tetley Road completed

Roundabout at Morton Road under construction


Nine of 10 sections completed – Tanners Point Road to Kauri Point Road complete, this marks the completion of the initial contract work north of Katikati (work needed to be done ahead of considering the installation of median barriers).

Morton Road roundabout complete

Esdaile Road to Ōmokoroa Road under construction

Roundabouts at Sharp Road, Lockington Road and Matahui Road under construction

Ten sections of safety improvements complete

Lockington / Matahui roads roundabout due to complete


Estimated Roundabout completion dates

Sharp Road – Early-2024

Lockington Road/Matahui Road – Mid-2024

Apata Station Road – Early-2025

Esdaile Road/Pahoia Road – Late-2025


Flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades due to complete (currently being programmed, *subject to change)