Project introduction

The section begins in Avalon Drive in the northwestern corner of Hamilton City and extends into Waikato district. It connects with the existing SH1 and the Ngaruawahia section to the north of Bern Road, Horotiu. Completed Monday 3 December 2012.

  • Estimated project cost

    $172 million - construction only
  • Project status


Te Rapa section now open

Traffic in Hamilton's north and west has had a smoother run to work this morning with the official opening of the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway road of national significance.

Some interesting facts about the project
  • 300,000 square metres of road were constructed.

  • The steel in the bridges weighs about the same as nine jumbo jets – 6000 tonnes.

  • The polystyrene blocks under the road weighed 23 tonnes – the same as five elephants.

  • There are 10 new road names.

  • 1.3 million metres3 was imported to build the bridge embankment – that's over 18 Te Rapa Dairy Factory dryer buildings.

  • Traffic management took the same amount of time as one man working non-stop for two and a half years.


When complete the Waikato Expressway will be the key transport corridor, connecting Auckland to the agricultural and business centres of Waikato and Bay of Plenty. The expressway will improve economic growth and productivity through more efficient movement of people and freight.

The Te Rapa section will:

  • improve economic growth and productivity by connecting the business centres in the north western corner of Hamilton City to those in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty

  • connect Avalon Drive to the existing SH1 and the Ngaruawahia section of the Waikato Expressway allowing the more efficient movement of people and freight

  • improve safety and reduce traffic congestion by directing traffic away from the existing local road network.

  • Key features

    The Waikato Expressway will be 102km long running from the Bombay Hills to South of Cambridge. It will provide for two lanes of traffic in each direction divided by a central barrier with local roads and interchanges generally serviced by bridges and underpasses.


Environmental management

 The Transport Agency is committed to improving the contribution state highways make to the environment and social wellbeing of New Zealand by:

  • protecting and enhancing the environment

  • using and managing resources efficiently

  • considering environmental issues early

  • contributing to sustainable outcomes by working with others

  • continually improving environmental performance.

  • Noise control

    Noise levels will comply with the latest standards. Measures used will include:

    • Monitoring of noise during construction and advance notification of any unavoidably noisy construction activity.

    • Haul routes for moving materials will be away from main roads and sensitive residential areas wherever practicable.

    • Landscaped buffer zones and noise barriers to protect local residents, businesses and sensitive areas from road noise.

  • Visual impact, landscaping and environmental measures

    Careful consideration will be given to native wildlife and habitats, in order to minimise impact and disruption.

    Landscaping and planting will be used to mitigate the visual impacts of the new road and create a pleasant environment for both road users and others.

    Culverts will be used and plans developed to manage natural water flows and drainage.

  • Significant sites: cultural, historic and environmental

    To protect this history the following measures will be used:

    • Protocols and agreements with local Iwi.

    • Engagement of cultural heritage monitors.

    • Liaison with local historical groups.

    • On site archaeological controls to ensure that approved processes are followed.


Project stages

The Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway took a major step forward in March 2010 when the Transport Agency awarded the design and construction contract to an alliance comprising Fulton Hogan, Opus International Consultants (Opus) and the Transport Agency.

  • What is an Alliance?

    The Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway will be delivered through an alliance contracting approach. This is a fairly new approach to contracting in which the owner (NZTA) the designer (Opus) and the contractor (Fulton Hogan) join forces to form a single united team that works from design through to completion of construction. The alliance approach creates the opportunity for designers and constructors to work together to achieve the most cost effective solution, it also gives the client more opportunity to engage in managing project risks and sharing in any savings made. In earlier examples of alliances clever design has enabled low risk construction which in turn has achieved a very cost effective outcome. We are expecting the same outcome from the Te Rapa Alliance.

  • The first stage – preliminary investigation

    The first stage – preliminary investigation of the Te Rapa section was undertaken by Opus for the NZTA (then known as Transit New Zealand) between 2004 and 2008. This stage led to the Te Rapa section having designation confirmed for inclusion in the Waikato District Plan and the Hamilton City plan in May 2010. The process was fully notified with submissions called for and a hearing by independent commissioners.

  • The second stage – design and construction

    The second stage is following the Alliance approach – design and construction and is now underway. This will include:

    • Reviewing of the preliminary design of the alignment that form the basis of the designation, including reassessment against latest NZTA objectives and against latest safety and environmental standards. This will include reviewing intersection forms.

    • Undertaking more detailed geotechnical, engineering and environmental investigations to confirm the alignment, the amount of land required for it and what works will be required to meet conditions imposed on the designation.

    • Securing alterations to designation as required for design enhancements and modifications to alignment.

    • Securing resource consents required for construction earthworks, stream crossings, stormwater drainage and the like.

    • Developing the design and project documentation to the point where construction can start.

    • Establishing construction crews and carrying out the physical works.

    This work is to be undertaken over the next three years.

    All landowners on the alignment will be contacted to discuss access arrangements for this work. There is a target completion date for construction of 2013.

  • Planned route

    The Te Rapa section is located at the north-western corner of Hamilton City and extends into Waikato District. Commencing from the south the Te Rapa section will provide for additional widening to four lanes of 1.6km of SH1 Avalon Drive. The route then moves into approximately 6km of new greenfield route from Avalon Dve/Gilchrist St to north of Bern Rd, Horotiu where it will connect with the existing SH1 and the future Ngaruawahia section. The greenfield section will be two lane with passing lanes on future four lane designed and constructed earthworks. The project is jointly funded by the NZTA 90%, Hamilton City Council (HCC) 8% and Waikato District Council (WDC) 2%.


    Interchanges to connect to the local roading network will be provided at Horotiu, Central and Gilchrist.

    • The Horotiu Interchange is at the north end of the project where the Te Rapa section intersects the existing SH1 and joins the Ngaruawahia section. A full diamond, grade separated intersection will be designed and constructed.

    • The Central Interchange is located midway along the Te Rapa section and provides connectivity across the new highway between Te Kowhai Road and Onion Road. This interchange will initially have north side off and on ramps constructed. Provision will be made for future construction of the south side ramps.

    • The Gilchrist Intersection is located where the Te Rapa section meets Avalon Drive. The Te Rapa section will bridge over the realigned Gilchrist Street and join directly into Avalon Drive. This new Gilchrist intersection will open new access into Hamilton’s Rotokauri area. It will also allow for local road users to enter onto Avalon Drive heading south and exit off Avalon Drive heading north.

  • Progress

    Work is progressing at a pace that will enable it to be completed in 2013. Progress visible to the community includes:

    • Occupation of the new site construction office

    • Building of a trial embankment

    • Fencing of land for the expressway

    • Surveying and testing of road surfaces and underground services.

    Site office

    The main site office for construction of the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway is now occupied by the Te Rapa Alliance project team. The site office entrance is off Ormsby Lane, this will soon change to a new access from Tasman Road.

    Trial embankment

    A trial embankment is being built to test for settlement times. The location of the embankment is on the east side of the main rail line (between Onion Road and Bern Road). Ground improvement and testing equipment will be installed, and then a large soil embankment will be constructed. The embankment will be monitored for settlement over the next six months.


    Fencing of land that has been purchased for the Expressway has started and will be completed over the coming months.

    Surveying and testing

    Surveying will take place between now and October for finalisation of design and fencing locations. Avalon Drive will be subject to testing and investigation, to confirm both surface conditions and the exact positions of existing services, so design for new services can be completed.

    Avalon Drive works

    Clearance of trees and vegetation on Avalon Drive (between Crawford Street and Gilchrist Street) is scheduled to commence in September, although the precise timing will be dependant on consents, and winter works approvals from Environment Waikato. Current plans under discussion would see in excess of 200,000 new plantings carried out as part of the Te Rapa section work, including around 1000 new trees.

    From there, the new west side lanes will commence construction. Avalon Drive four-laning will take approximately twelve months to complete.

  • Work during September to November 2010

    In September the team will be establishing equipment and work sites to enable the work to get underway once the main earthworks season commences on the 1st October.

    On SH1 Avalon Drive the following work will commence in September and include:

    • Installation of traffic management along the full length of Avalon Drive from Crawford Road roundabout to the Rail Overbridge. This includes full temporary work signage, as well as concrete barriers down the complete length

    • Removal of concrete islands at each end of the site to enable traffic movements

    • Change of road markings for the revised lane layout on Avalon Drive to fit in with Traffic management

    • Removal of redundant fencing and erection of new fences along both sides of the full designation including the Wintec paddock

    • Removal of all the large trees down the west side of Avalon Drive, and in the area of the Gilchrist interchange near our site office.

    On SH1 at the Horotiu Interchange work will commence in November and include:

    • Installation of traffic management

    • Installation of erosion and sediment control measures

    • Removal of fences

    • Clearing of vegetation and the large trees lining SH1

    • Moving the overhead power lines.

  • Properties on the designated route

    Inevitably the Expressway will pass through land currently owned and operated by a range of individuals, farms and organisations. Processes for managing land purchase or compensation for those affected by the new road are laid out in the Public Works Act and summarised in a useful guide “Landowner’s rights” which is available from Land Information New Zealand or via their website link).