Holiday Highway in the Spotlight

Hearings Begin on Warkworth Section of Holiday Highway


The Herald has noted that the Board of Enquiry gets under way today for the Puhoi-Warkworth section of the Puhoi-Welsford Roads of National Significance Program otherwise known as the Holiday Highway.

From the NZ Herald:

Holiday highway plan in spotlight

By Mathew Dearnaley 4:15 AM Monday Apr 7, 2014

Fast-tracking of $760m extension to be considered over 14 days. 

Plans for one of the country’s most expensive transport projects – a $760 million extension of Auckland’s motorway network to Warkworth – go under the microscope today.

A board of inquiry appointed for fast-tracking planning consideration of the 18.5km extension as the first half of a Road of National Significance will preside over 14 days of hearings.

The Government is promoting the extension over 12 viaducts and bridges from the Johnstones Hill traffic tunnels south of Puhoi to a new roundabout north of Warkworth, as a vital freight and tourism link with Northland.

Even so, many of the 14,000 vehicles a day expected to use the new road by 2026 will double back to Warkworth’s often bottlenecked Hill St turnoff to eastern beaches.

That keeps critics such as Auckland Council infrastructure chairman Mike Lee calling it “the holiday highway” to the intense annoyance of Northland leaders and former Rodney mayor Penny Webster.

There will only be one traffic interchange between Orewa and Warkworth, to be confined to just south-facing ramps at Puhoi, after residents protested against an earlier plan which would have denied them access.


So you will need to double back and still get held up at the notorious Hill Road intersection at Warkworth in order to get to the eastern beaches. That in itself is rather self-defeating.


In any case the Holiday Highway even if fully completed as the gold-plated 4-lane motorway would still fall well short of where it would need to be if it were to serve the population and industrial centres of Northland. You would need to take the motorway all the way to Whangarei itself to get the “benefits” you would be sort after – much like the 4-lane expressway Auckland to Hamilton and Cambridge.

Ironically there has been two more cheaper but more beneficial transport schemes to connect Auckland up to Northland than the Holiday Highway. One is Operation Lifesaver devised by Transport Blog, the other is to fully upgrade the North Auckland (rail) Line from Swanson to Whangarei with a branch line to Marsden Point (home of a deep water port and our oil refinery) to allow our more powerful DL’s to haul longer trains from the area south (like logs).

You can read about Operation Lifesaver as an alternative to the Holiday Highway HERE.


Operation Lifesaver I believe follows the same premise as the upgrades to State Highway 2 that have happened and are going to continue to happen again soon. You can read what NZTA has done and what it will be up to with State Highway 2 here: Safety Improvements for State Highway 2. Once the upgrades are complete that section of State Highway 2 (which carries more regular, holiday and freight traffic than the Holiday Highway ever would) will allow that traffic to travel efficiently and safely to their destinations. So if these kind of simple upgrades to a much busier State Highway 2 are effective why does State Highway 1 going north need to be a 4-lane Motorway that does not really go the distance it would need to? And these upgrades to State Highway 2 are very similar to what Operation Lifesaver proposes.


Lets hope this Board of Inquiry puts the Holiday Highway under the same intense microscope as it did to a Wellington Highway project last month. And cross fingers the Board of Inquiry might start shifting us away from this motorway to something more viable that will not break the bank…

Here’s hoping