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Project introduction

The Pūhoi to Warkworth project will extend the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) 18.5km from the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels to just north of Warkworth. It is the first stage of the Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Wellsford project.

About this project

In November 2016, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency awarded a Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract to the Northern Express Group (NX2) for the project. Under the PPP contract, the Northern Express Group will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway for the 25 years that will follow the expected five-year period to build the motorway. Full ownership of the highway will remain with the public sector.

The motorway was scheduled to open at the end of 2021, but the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown in April meant nearly five weeks of earthmoving was lost. The resumption of work under Alert Level 3 with strict health and safety protocols also impacted the works programme. The new safer, more resilient route between Pūhoi and Warkworth is now expected to be opened to motorists in time for the busy Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2022.

For the latest construction updates, please visit the NX2 website at link)

For information about the previous investigation, consenting and procurement phases of the project, please read the project phases sections below.


There will be a number of transport benefits as a result of the project including:

  • Improved safety and connectivity
  • Improved journey time reliability
  • Easier freight movements
  • Boosting the economic potential of the Northland region

Project phases

  • Route investigation and community consultation (2010–2012)

    The project team, working with consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), completed a detailed study of the route in 2010 and 2011. The study considered all issues associated with the road’s construction from the technical, environmental and community perspectives. The topics examined in the study included:

    • Location and form of road improvements

    • Social impacts such as noise, air quality and the effect on the local community

    • Tangata whenua and the cultural impacts of potential routes

    • Property impacts

    • Geotechnical and topography considerations

    • Ecological impacts and the effect on historic areas

    • Connections to the local roading network and walking and cycling access

    • Staging and costs

    • Opportunities to accelerate the project

    Community input was sought through two rounds of consultation. The first round associated with the route investigation was carried out between 21 June and 16 August 2010. A large amount of feedback was received and a map summarising feedback [PDF, 347 KB](external link)  was prepared.

    The second round of consultation took place between 16 November 2010 and 28 January 2011 with the release of the indicative route for the Pūhoi to Warkworth section. Again a large amount of feedback was received and this is summarised in newsletter 5 [PDF, 430 KB].

    The findings of investigations into the Pūhoi to Warkworth section of the route were considered alongside community feedback to announce a preferred route in April 2012. For more information on the Pūhoi to Warkworth preferred route please read newsletter 6 [PDF, 527 KB]

  • Obtaining statutory approvals (2013–September 2014)

    Detailed reports that outlined the potential environmental effects of the project were lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) at the end of August 2013 to support the Notice of Requirement application to build the road.

    The EPA notified and collected submissions on the Pūhoi to Warkworth proposal between 16 November and 13 December 2013. An independent Board of Inquiry heard submissions from the public at a hearing between 7 April and 5 June 2014. The Board confirmed the designation and resource consents on 12 September 2014.

    View the application documents online.

    Read the final report on the EPA website(external link).

  • Procurement (2015–2016)

    In November 2016 the Transport Agency awarded a PPP Contract to the Northern Express Group (NX2) to deliver the motorway in late 2021.

    For more information about the Public Private Partnership model, please read the PPP page.

  • Tolling consultation

    Waka Kotahi is seeking feedback on two proposals to keep the roads between Pūhoi and Warkworth safe, resilient and reliable. We are proposing a toll for the new Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway and to ensure the alternative free route is safe, we are formally consulting on proposed lower speed limits for the current State Highway 1.

    Public consultation on both the motorway tolling proposal and speed review is open from 15 May until 15 June 2020.

    Find out more and make a submission


Our partners on this project