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SH1 Whangārei to Wellsford project update


Kia ora koutou,

We are beginning a major safety improvements project on State Highway 1 between Whangārei and Wellsford.

This update gives you some background for the ambitious works we are starting which have been divided into three separate projects as explained below.

Briefly: Preliminary works are well underway. We've begun scheduling surveying and geotechnical investigations along sections of the highway. And we've started talking to schools, businesses and landowners who might be affected by some of our initial works.

Next: We'll have details and news about each individual project in October's update, along with links to new maps and information sheets on our refreshed web page.

Feel free to forward this email to friends, neighbours or whānau who might be interested. They can also sign up for updates at



Looking north up State Highway 1 towards Whangārei


About our project

Numbers can tell an tragic story.

40 people lost their lives and 123 were seriously injured in the past 10 years on the 83km stretch of State Highway 1 between Whangārei and Wellsford. We are making extensive safety improvements to the road corridor to bring those awful numbers down.

Because the corridor is so long, work has been divided into three separate pieces - the Northern, Central and Southern projects:

  • Northern – SH1 Whangārei to SH1/SH15 Port Marsden Highway
  • Central – SH1/SH15 Port Marsden Highway to the northern base of the Brynderwyn Hills
  • Southern – SH1/SH12 Brynderwyn Hills to SH1 Wellsford, excluding the townships of Te Hana and Kaiwaka

For some current information about the Northern project, go here.

Our project is part of Aotearoa's road safety strategy Road to Zero, which is aimed at reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on New Zealand's roads.

Road to Zero has set an initial target to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s roads, streets, cycleways and footpaths by 40 percent over the next 10 years.

For more about how we can do this, visit Waka Kotahi's Road to Zero page.



What is Vision Zero?

Across New Zealand we have set an ambitious goal for road safety and safety improvements. This short video (screen shot, right) explains how the Road to Zero goal can be reached.

Road to Zero adopts Vision Zero, a vision for Aotearoa where no-one is killed or seriously injured in road crashes, and where no death or serious injury while travelling on our roads is acceptable.

It's a vision in which everyone, no matter their age or ability, can get around safely. A vision in which our road system actually improves people’s health and well-being and the places and spaces they love.



Flexible side barrier - a 'safety net' for driver mistakes


How we’re making the highway safer

Our project takes the safe system approach to improving New Zealand's roads. This eye-opening presentation details how the approach works.

Briefly, the safe system approach recognises that people make mistakes and the human body is vulnerable. The approach reduces the price paid for a mistake so crashes don't result in loss of life or limb. Making mistakes is inevitable – people being killed and seriously injured from road crashes is not.

The improvements we’ll be constructing to make the road safer include:

  • Side and median flexible safety barriers to stop your vehicle before you hit something harder like a tree or a power pole or an oncoming vehicle.
  • Wider centre lines to keep drivers apart from each other.
  • Better signs and road markings to warn drivers of upcoming intersections, stop signs or sharp curves.
  • Safer speeds to allow drivers more time to react to a mistake and recover control of their vehicle.


What’s done and what's coming

It’s important the improvements we make are right for the road and will also work for the local communities and road users.

This is a long stretch of road with a long history of crashes and we’ve investigated a wide range of options to ensure we get it right.

Early 2019
We asked residents and communities along the road corridor for local knowledge and insights into safety issues and improvement opportunities. That valuable feedback went into our feasibility study for which safety improvements would be the most effective.

Mid 2019 to 2020
We carried out feasibility assessment and developed preliminary designs for the Central and Southern projects.

Early 2021
The contracts to create detailed designs for the Central project (AECOM and NCC Consulting Engineers) and Southern project (Jacobs) were awarded.

Mid 2021
Planning and design work got underway. Introductory discussions with landowners, community groups, councils and industry organisations begin.

Early 2022
Some simpler safety improvements (such as wider centre lines) begin construction.



Keep in touch


For more information on the SH1 Whangārei to Wellsford project, contact us at

Visit our website