SH5 Tirau to Tarukenga safety improvements

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Project introduction

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has been investigating how to make State Highway 5 between Tīrau and Tārukenga safer.

  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


About the project

State Highway 5 (SH5) between Tīrau and Tārukenga is an important route for locals and tourists, heavy commercial and agricultural vehicles travelling in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and for those travelling further afield.

Between 2011 and 2021, 16 people died and 58 were seriously injured on this road.

The stretch of road is a high-risk highway that can be made safer.

Each crash has huge impacts on the people involved, their families, emergency services and the health sector. As well as saving lives and preventing crash trauma, safety upgrades would result in fewer crashes which would mean the highway is more efficient and can support productivity and economic growth in the region.

A feasibility study to assess the scope, cost, and potential timeframes for safety improvements was completed in early 2022. We worked with mana whenua and councils and their feedback helped us to identify a preferred option to reduce the number of serious crashes along the highway.

The safety improvements proposed include flexible median safety barriers, roundabouts at key intersections and safe turnaround areas. No infrastructure changes are proposed for the road through Fitzgerald Glade.

The proposed safety improvements mean some people will have to change the way they use the road in the future, but these measures will save lives and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on this road.

These improvements will complement work already completed between Tārukenga and Ngongotahā on SH5 and work underway at several locations along SH1 between Cambridge and Taupō.

  • How the safety improvements will be delivered

    Safety improvements will be delivered in stages over time, as funding is confirmed and detailed designs are developed for each section of the highway. 

    To develop a detailed design, we look at how the road is used and carry out technical investigations. To make sure we get the designs right, we also engage with our iwi partners, landowners and road users, so their feedback can be taken into consideration.

    We will provide updates as this project proceeds and information becomes available.

  • Making your roads safer

    Every day people make mistakes on the road.

    We are delivering safety improvements on state highways across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. These changes give you a second chance, so a simple mistake doesn’t cost a life.

    Flexible road safety barriers are designed to absorb the impact and protect you and others in the vehicle. They are also designed so your vehicle is not deflected into another traffic lane.

    Median barriers prevent head-on crashes and make a big difference in preventing people being killed or seriously injured on our roads.

    Roadside safety barriers ‘catch’ vehicles before they leave the road, and hit something harder, like a pole, tree or ditch.

    Roundabouts make a big difference to safety at intersections. They also give drivers a safe place to turnaround if a flexible median barrier is installed.

    Safe turnaround areas where road safety barriers stop you turning right, we can provide safe areas for vehicles to turn around, such as turning bays (leaving gaps in the barrier and providing places to turn).

    Find out more about how these safety infrastructure work


What we're doing now

We have been working on developing the detailed design for the 2.5km section between Whites Road and Harwoods Road.

Map showing location of safety improvements along SH5 - including a median barrier and roundabout

View larger map [PDF, 163 KB]

The improvements proposed include:

  • roundabouts at Harwoods Road and potentially Whites Road
  • flexible median barrier
  • widening the road shoulders where necessary to accommodate the barriers and give drivers space to pull over in an emergency.

Our teams have carried out site investigations and sought feedback on the proposed design from mana whenua, potentially affected landowners, road users and the community. An engagement summary has been prepared summarising what we have heard.

SH5 Tirau to Tarukenga engagement summary [PDF, 2.4 MB]

We will share updates about any further progress for this project including funding decisions as information becomes available.