Project introduction

The Southern Links project aims to develop an effective transport network of state highway and urban arterial routes to support Hamilton’s planned growth. The route has been designated but the project is still in early stages of development and no decision has been made about construction timeframes

Road of National Significance

April 2024

This project has been identified in the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS 2024) as a Road of National Significance.

This page will be updated upon publication of the National Land Transport Plan later this year.

  • Estimated project cost

    $100 million +
  • Project type

    Road management
  • Project status


Project updates

Project update – November 2018
Project updates, (PDF)
Southern Links bat research breaks new ground
Media release,
Project update – June 2017
Project updates, (PDF)

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2023 form and function review

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA), working with Hamilton City Council and our project partners, completed a review in September 2023 into the form and function of the proposed state highway transport components of Southern Links.

The purpose of the review was to make sure that Southern Links takes into account changes that have occurred since the route was designated in 2014 and how Southern Links fits in the wider transport system.

These changes include the completion of the Waikato Expressway, the development of the Hamilton Metro Spatial Plan, the continued growth in the Peacocke and Tamahere areas and the growing importance of walking, cycling and public transport in planning for future transport networks.

While Southern Links project itself remains unfunded, the review also looked at how improvements within the Southern Links area could be delivered in stages.

Southern Links form and function review report [PDF, 2 MB]

About the project

Southern Links is a transport network of state highway and urban arterial routes linking State Highway 1 from Kahikatea Drive in Hamilton to the Waikato Expressway at Tamahere and State Highway 3 from Hamilton Airport to central and east Hamilton. 

The project ties in with the projected growth and development in the Peacocke, Tamahere and Hamilton Airport areas.

In 2013 the route protection designations were lodged by NZTA and Hamilton City Council with the relevant councils.  At the same time, resource consent applications to Waikato Regional Council for the key new bridges over the Waikato River and Mangakotukutuku Stream were also lodged.

More than 80 submissions were received and a hearing was held before four independent commissioners in 2014.

The commissioners later issued their recommendations to NZTA, and decision to Hamilton City Council, on their respective parts of the project.  The recommendations/decision were to confirm the designations and approve the resource consent applications, subject to conditions, with a lapse period of 20 years.

NZ Transport Agency made its decisions on the Commissioner’s recommendations in December 2014 and 2 appeals were lodged with the Environment Court. The appeals were resolved by negotiation between the parties, with the subsequent Designations being included in the Waipā District Plan on 1 June 2016 and in the Waikato District Plan on 18 August 2016.

Southern Links is still at an early stage of development and no decision has been made about construction. NZTA doesn’t currently have funding allocated for the project. Getting the designations in place protects the network so it can be built when required in the future.

  • Purpose

    To ensure that future state highway routes are well integrated with the local arterial road network, and to allow for planned growth in the city.

  • Benefits

    The main aim of the project is to plan for the long-term needs of the city, particularly the projected growth and development in the Peacocke, Tamahere and Hamilton Airport area. Identifying and protecting the future transport network will enable good long-term planning to be carried out for the city.

    NZTA and Hamilton City Council (HCC) are working together to ensure that the future state highway routes will be well integrated with local roads, and the planned residential and industrial developments. When constructed the Southern Links project will reduce congestion, improve safety on SH1 and SH3 in the Hillcrest and Melville suburbs of Hamilton, improve freight flows and be a key part of the city’s urban arterial network integrated into the HCC Access Hamilton Strategy.

    Southern Links will also complement the Waikato Expressway by providing the main southern access linking Hamilton city and the expressway.