Project introduction

SH2/Wainui Road intersection to Ōpōtiki has been identified as a high-risk rural road. Safety improvements are underway to reduce the number of people being killed and seriously injured on this road.

  • Estimated project cost

    $26 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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To reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on New Zealand roads, Waka Kotahi will deliver proven and effective safety interventions to make our roads safer for all users.

These safety improvements are being delivered to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on New Zealand's roads, and improve flood protection at the SH2/Wainui Road intersection.


The stretch of road on SH2 between Wainui Road and Ōpōtiki has been identified as a high-risk rural road which can be made safer. It is a main route for most traffic between Tauranga and Gisborne, and more locally, connects Whakatāne to Ōpōtiki.

This project is being delivered as part of the Speed and Infrastructure Programme, which has a target of reducing the amount of people killed or seriously injured on New Zealand’s roads.

Between 2018 and 2022 there were 14 death or serious injury (DSI) crashes on this stretch of road. Seven deaths were recorded during this period. Most were caused by vehicles running off the road.

Roadside hazards like banks, ditches and drop-offs along the route mean if drivers run off the road, they have a high likelihood of suffering a serious injury or death.

Crashes, in particular fatal ones, contribute to road closures, as do flooding and slips as a result of natural events. Road closures negatively impact on the Ōpōtiki region, and the proposed solutions to these are being considered as part of the project scope.

When we spoke to the community initially in March 2017, we received feedback that helped us to develop the proposed safety improvements for this stretch of road.

The feedback showed there’s support for the improvements, especially at some risky intersections. It also showed us people are worried about how some improvements might affect the way they use the road and slow down traffic. All this information is important and has been used, along with our investigations, to shape the improvements that will make this road safer.

The safety improvements include shoulder widening, side barriers at high-risk locations, edgeline and centreline rumble strips. They also include upgrades to the Ōhiwa Beach Road and Waiotahe Valley Back Road intersection, and the SH2/Wainui Road (Matakerepu) intersection.

Initial funding of $7.6 million supported preliminary work to get underway on Section 1A between SH2 / Wainui Road (Matekerepu) Intersection and SH2 / Ōhiwa Beach Road intersection. This included construction of side safety barriers, installation of a temporary median barrier at one site near Kutarere while our contractors were working to keep them safe, and shoulder road widening. This section has now been completed.

What's happened so far?


We completed road widening and installed roadside barriers on Section 1A between SH2 / Wainui Road Intersection and SH2/Ōhiwa Beach Road Intersection.


Our construction crew completed the safety improvements at the Rankin Road/SH2 intersection. This work included widening the road shoulders, installing side safety barriers, and improving the curve in the road to make it easier and safer to navigate.

We also completed service investigations and relocations through the Pōhutukawa tunnels and from the surf club through to Ōpōtiki, in preparation for the shoulder widening and roadside barriers installation along these sections.

The site (Section 1A) between the SH2 and Wainui Road intersection, Matekerepu and and Ōhiwa Beach Road, at Lysaghts bridge, was also completed.


Work on the remaining sections from Waiotahe Valley Back Road to Woodlands Road (1C) is nearing completion.with final line marking and signage due to be completed in December 2023. Works were similar to Section 1A, with shoulder widening and roadside barriers at high-risk locations. This included new roadside barriers through the Pōhutukawa tunnels, as shown by our artists impression below and photos of the completed work in our gallery.

The completion of the section from Te Ahiaua Reserve Campsite to Paerata Ridge Road, and from Waiotahe Drifts Boulevard to the Kukumoa Cutting is a great milestone. It has seen the installation of more than 4.1km of side barriers consisting of 1.4km of wire rope barriers and 2.7km of W-section barriers (commonly referred to as guardrails).

We have also worked with the local maintenance team to get a fresh chip seal on the roads at the same time as the barriers were installed. We expect to have clear line marking in place before Christmas.

What's happening now?

We’re still finalising the tear drop arrangement at Waiotahe Valley Back Road and Ōhiwa Beach Road intersections, and working with landowners.

The ‘teardrop’ arrangement slows vehicle speeds who are approaching these intersections, making it safer and easier for drivers to turn in and out of the side roads.

Careful management of the projects completed to date has meant that we have the budget and resources to extend the installation of side barriers on the section from Kukumoa Cutting to Bairds Road. This section has seen too many crashes, and it is also timely with the installation of a cycleway alongside SH2 by Ōpōtiki District Council.

Work is now underway to get more than 900meters of side barriers installed on either side of the road ahead of Christmas.

We’ll keep you posted as to any further safety improvements required to support the planned marina.