The Waikato Expressway is a dual carriageway section of State Highway 1 in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand that is being constructed in stages. It forms part of the link between Auckland and Hamilton. When completed it will stretch 116 km (72 mi) and be 6 km (3.7 mi) shorter than the roads it replaced.[1]

State Highway 1 NZ.svg

Waikato Expressway
State Highway 1
Route information
Maintained by NZ Transport Agency
Length72.3 km (44.9 mi)
Existed8 May 1993–present
HistoryUnder construction
Major junctions
North endBombay Hills
Auckland Southern Motorway
 State Highway 2 NZ.svg SH 2 at Pokeno
State Highway 1b NZ.svg SH 1B at Taupiri
State Highway 21 NZ.svg SH 21 at Tamahere
State Highway 1b NZ.svg SH 1B at Cambridge
South endJust south of Cambridge
Pokeno, Mercer, Meremere, Te Kauwhata, Rangiriri
Highway system

Currently, the expressway is made up of four sections: the first beginning at the end of the Auckland Southern Motorway at the top of the Bombay Hills and ending at Longswamp, the second beginning at Te Kauwhata and ending at Ohinewai, the third beginning at Taupiri and ending at Te Rapa and the fourth beginning at Tamahere and ending 2.5 km south of Cambridge. The first two sections are linked by a three lane section of State Highway 1 that will eventually be upgraded to four lanes and thus become a part of the expressway. Further extensions to the expressway are planned, and when completed, the expressway will form a 101.4 km long continuous four-lane dual carriageway from the Bombay Hills to beyond the town of Cambridge, 24 kilometres south-east of Hamilton. When completed, Hamilton, as well as several other towns along the current route of State Highway 1 (such as Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Cambridge), will be completely bypassed by the expressway, allowing through traffic to move much more efficiently.[2]



While not officially designated as the Waikato Expressway until the early 2000s, the upgrading of State Highway 1 from the Bombay Hills to Mercer from 1992 to 1993 can be considered to be the first step in the construction of the expressway. During this upgrade, State Highway 1 from the end of the Southern Motorway to just north of Mercer was upgraded from two lanes to four, with grade separated interchanges constructed at Bombay and the junction with State Highway 2 just north of the township of Pokeno. A bypass of Pokeno was also constructed at this time, as well as several partially separated interchanges to allow access for local property owners along the route.[3]

The Rangiriri to Ohinewai section was completed in 2003. The northern half of this section follows the pre-existing highway while the southern half of this section deviates from the original highway in order to bypass Ohinewai and features a diamond interchange on Tahuna Rd.[4]

The Mercer to Longswamp section from the Bombay Hills to Mercer was opened in July 2006. The former two-lane section of State Highway is now the carriageway for northbound traffic, while a separate carriageway for southbound traffic was constructed in parallel.[5] A grade-separated interchange at Mercer was also constructed, incorporating an overpass for the southbound lanes to cross over the North Island Main Trunk railway at this point.

As the two dual carriageway sections of the expressway (Bombay Hills to Longswamp and Rangiriri to Ohinewai) are not continuous, the section of highway between Longswamp and Rangiriri was upgraded to a 2+1 road in 2005 with the intention of upgrading this section to four lanes in the future.[6]

In 2009 the Waikato Expressway was announced by New Zealand's minister of Transport, Steven Joyce, as being one of seven "roads of national significance".[7]

The Mangaharakeke Drive section, originally known as the Te Rapa Bypass, was opened on 3 December 2012 between Horotiu and Rotokauri.[8] Construction of the section of the expressway and Mangaharakeke Drive between Taupiri and Horotiu, bypassing Ngaruawahia, began in late 2011 and was officially opened on 14 December 2013.[9]

Following funding approval in December 2012[10] construction of the Rangiriri and Cambridge sections commenced in 2013, in March and August respectively. The Cambridge section was officially opened on 15 December 2015 by Transport Minister Simon Bridges,[11][12] with the road opening to traffic the next day.

The Rangiriri section mainline opened as a single carriageway on 21 June 2016,[13] and became fully operational as a dual carriageway on 13 April 2017.

Construction of the Huntly section began in late August 2015. Construction of the biggest section, the Hamilton section, commenced in March 2016.[14] Construction for the Longswamp section, the last section to commence, began in October 2016.[15]

In May 2017, the NZTA started consulting on a 16 km extension of the expressway, from the current terminus at Cambridge south to the SH 29 intersection at Piarere.[16]

In December 2017, the Cambridge section became one of the first two sections of highway in New Zealand to be given a speed limit of 110 km/h.[17]

Section Location Length Cost Constructed Note
Pokeno Bombay–Mercer 12 km −1995
Mercer Mercer–Hampton Downs 11 km $83.5m[18] −2006
Longswamp Hampton Downs–Te Kauwhata 6 km $115m[19] 2016–
Rangiriri Te Kauwhata–Ohinewai 5 km $105m[20] 2013–2017
Ohinewai Ohinewai bypass 7 km $24m[21] −2003
Huntly Ohinewai–Taupiri 15 km $458m[22] 2015– New highway bypassing Huntly
Ngaruawahia Taupiri–Horotiu 12 km $190m[23] 2011–2013 Opened December 2013. New highway bypassing Ngaruawahia.
Te Rapa Horotiu–Rotokauri 7 km $195m[24] 2010–2012 Opened December 2012. New highway bypassing Te Rapa.
Hamilton Lake Road interchange–Tamahere 22 km $973m[25][26] 2016–
Tamahere Tamahere bypass 2 km
Cambridge Tamahere–Cambridge south 16 km $250m[27] 2013–2015 Opened 16 December 2015. Upgraded highway from Tamahere to Cambridge north; new highway Cambridge north to Cambridge south

Economic benefitsEdit

A 2009 report for New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) concluded that the benefit cost ratio of the Expressway was 0.5, i.e. for every dollar of investment the return was 50 cents.[28]

The figures were reworked in 2010 because "Infometrics original RoNS analysis and report was concluded in December 2009. Since this time, NZTA published an updated conventional evaluation of the Waikato Expressway. The materiality of the change to the Waikato Expressway assessment warranted an update and re-run of the CGE model." The re-run model shows benefits of $186.3m pa, against annual costs of $87.3m. However, this is based on a total cost for the road of $1454.4m, which omits land costs, "as from an economy-wide perspective this is merely a transfer of ownership of an existing asset".[29] In June 2015 the NZTA estimated the total cost of the road at between $2,200m and $2,400m.[30] A critic has said that the calculations do not take account of the costs of owning and operating a vehicle on the roads, nor rising fuel costs.[31] In 2016 some MPs were concerned Auckland congestion would cut travel time savings and hence the cost-benefit ratio of 1.4:1. One MP commented that the alternative commuter train, with the same CBR, didn’t "get a look in".[32]

Exit listEdit

Territorial authority Location km Exit Destination Notes
Auckland Council (Franklin Local Board) Bombay 471.5   SH 1 north (Southern Motorway) – Auckland Waikato Expressway begins
471.9 471 Great South Road – Bombay, Pukekohe
Bombay Service Centre
Northbound exit and southbound entrance
473.2 473 Beaver Road No east/west connection
Waikato District 474.5 474 Ridge Road
Pokeno 476.0 476 Razorback Road Northbound entrance and southbound exit
476.7 477   SH 2Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga
477.9 Great South Road – Pokeno Northbound entrance and southbound exit
478.9 Great South Road – Pokeno Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Pioneer Road Northbound exit is right hand turn
Mercer 483.0 Mercer
Meremere Oram Road
Island Block Road – Meremere To close when full interchange is built at Spring Hill Road
Spring Hill Road – Meremere Full interchange to be built as part of stage 2
Dragway Road To close when full interchange is built at Spring Hill Road
Hampton Downs 494.0 Hampton Downs Road – Hampton Downs, Spring Hill Corrections Facility
Currently terminates south of the Hampton Downs Road interchange
Waikato District
Currently terminates north of Plantation Road
Waikato District Te Kauwhata Te Kauwhata Road/Plantation Road – Te Kauwhata
Rangiriri Glen Murray Road – Rangiriri No northbound entrance
Armatage Road Northbound entrance and exit only
Ohinewai 510.0 Tahuna Road – Tahuna, Ohinewai
Currently terminates at Frost Road
Waikato District Great South Road – Huntly Under construction, expected to open 2019
Currently terminates at Gordonton Road
Waikato District Taupiri 527.0   SH 1B (Gordonton Road) – Taupiri, Gordonton
Currently terminates onto Mangaharakeke Drive at Lake Road
Waikato District Mangaharakeke Drive – Te Rapa, Hamilton Central, Ngaruawahia No southbound entrance
37°40′59″S 175°12′57″E / 37.68314°S 175.21570°E / -37.68314; 175.21570 (Mangaharakeke Drive interchange)
Lake Road Southbound entrance only
Resolution Drive – Rototuna, Chartwell Link to be built to Resolution Drive/Borman Road roundabout
Pardoa Boulevard – Chartwell, Te Rapa Link to be built to Wairere Drive/Gordonton Road/Crosby Road roundabout
  SH 26 (Ruakura Link) – University, Hamilton Central, Morrinsville Link to be built east to Ruakura Road and west to Ruakura Road/Silverdale Road roundabout
SH 26 to be diverted via Ruakura Road to meet interchange.
Cambridge Road – Hillcrest, Hamilton Central
Currently terminates at Bollard Road
Waikato District Tamahere 560.4   SH 21Tamahere, Hamilton Airport 37°49′42″S 175°21′27″E / 37.82829°S 175.35760°E / -37.82829; 175.35760 (SH 21 interchange)
Waipa District Cambridge Road – Cambridge (west) Northbound entrance and southbound exit
Cambridge   SH 1B (Victoria Road) – Cambridge, Hautapu
Tirau Road (north)– Cambridge Northbound exit and southbound entrance
  SH 1 south (Tirau Road) – Rotorua, Taupo Waikato Expressway ends
37°53′48″S 175°30′29″E / 37.8967°S 175.50796°E / -37.8967; 175.50796 (End of Waikato Expressway)

Mangaharakeke Drive (Te Rapa spur)Edit

Territorial authority Location Exit Destination Notes
Waikato District Horsham Downs   SH 1 Waikato Expressway north
Huntly, Auckland
Mangaharakeke Drive begins
No east to south connection
Lake Road Northbound exit only
to Waikato Expressway southbound (future)
Waikato District–Hamilton City boundary Horotiu Great South Road/Te Rapa Road – Te Rapa, Ngaruawahia Crosses Waikato River on Te Rehu O Waikato Bridge
Burbush   SH 39 (Koura Drive) – Raglan, Otorohanga
Hamilton City Avalon Wairere Drive/Te Wetini Drive Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Avalon Drive Mangaharakeke Drive ends

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Waikato Expressway". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Waikato Expressway". NZ Transport Agency. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Auckland Motorways 2008" (PDF). New Zealand Transport Agency. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Rangiriri to South of Ohinewai". Waikato Expressway. Transit New Zealand. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Traffic switches to new lanes at Mercer". Transit New Zealand Press release. 22 April 2004. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Longswamp to Te Kauwhata Four-Laning". Waikato Expressway. Transit New Zealand. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Roads of national significance". NZ Transport Agency. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  8. ^ "New length of Waikato Expressway now open to traffic". New Zealand Transport Agency. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Waikato Expressway contract awarded". NZ Transport Agency. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Construction funding approved for two sections of the Waikato Expressway". NZTA. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Associate Minister marks start of Waikato Expressway – Rangiriri". Waikato Expressway. New Zealand Transport Agency: Waikato Regional Office. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  12. ^ Henson, Narelle (31 August 2013). "$250m project brings bypass, bridges and 300 jobs". Waikato Times. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Rangiriri section of Waikato Expressway set to open". Waikato Times. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  14. ^ "PM and Transport Minister turn sod on Hamilton section of Waikato Expressway". Waikato Times. 11 March 2016.
  15. ^ "Contract awarded for final part of Waikato Expressway". Waikato Times. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Tauranga turnoff 'black spot' to benefit from proposed expressway extension: Government". 1 May 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  17. ^ Phillipa Yalden (11 December 2017). "Waikato, Tauranga expressway speed limits rise to 110kmh". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Opening of SH1 Mercer to Longswamp". The Beehive. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Longswamp | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Rangiriri | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  21. ^ "SH16 Hobsonville Deviation and SH16 Brigham Creek Extension" (PDF). p. 4 Table 1.
  22. ^ "Huntly | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Ngāruawāhia | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Te Rapa | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Largest roading project in the Waikato's history to get underway this month". NZ Transport Agency. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Hamilton | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Cambridge | NZ Transport Agency". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  28. ^ New Zealand Transport Agency – Roads of National Significance – Economic Assessments 2009 p. 33
  29. ^ Roads of National Significance, Economic Assessments Review 2010
  30. ^ Hamilton Urban Blog 3 June 2015
  31. ^ Sunday Star Times 21 November 2010
  32. ^ "2014/15 Annual Review of the Ministry of Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency". Report of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. 11 February 2016.

External linksEdit