The NZ Herald reported yesterday that the Puhoi-Warkworth section of the Puhoi-Wellsford Road of National Significance is likely to have its consent fast-tracked through the same Board of Inquiry process to that used by NZTA for the Waterview Connection project. This is of course no surprise as all the Roads of National Significance are going through the same process. Of particular note is that it seems the primary reason why Puhoi-Warkworth justifies being considered as a project of ‘national significance’ (the statutory test for whether something can be sent to a Board of Inquiry or must go through the normal consenting process) is the level of environmental effect generated. The article details these effects:

Massive earthworks carving through difficult country for Auckland’s next highway will dwarf excavations for the Waterview motorway tunnels.

A report for Auckland Council consideration today says the $760 million first stage of the Puhoi to Wellsford tolled highway – one of the Government’s seven “roads of national significance”- will need more than nine million cubic metres of ground moved from its 18km path to Warkworth.

That is almost seven times what is being dug for the Waterview motorway, and the report warns significant and irreversible environmental changes are likely.

The project will also pass through some pretty sensitive environmental areas:

Despite the council report’s warning of environmental challenges such as to the ecologically important Puhoi Scenic Reserve, it recommends the project go under fast-track consenting provisions, for the Government’s Environmental Protection Authority to hold hearings through a board of inquiry and issue a decision within nine months of notifying applications.

Looking at the plans for this project, I don’t think that it will be a straight forward “rubber stamping” exercise for Puhoi-Warkworth to get consent. The sheer environmental impact of the proposal is massive and it will fundamentally alter the environment in a pretty sensitive and previously fairly untouched area – due to the rugged terrain a motorway standard route will be slammed through.

For some reason, Cameron Brewer seems to think that agreement by the Council that the project meets the legislative definition of being of “national significance” (which as I noted earlier more relates to its level of environmental effect rather than its scale of supposed benefit) justifies Labour and the Greens withdrawing their opposition to this project. As we’ve noted many times before on this blog, something needs to be done to State Highway 1 north of Auckland – but this proposal is just complete overkill with most of the benefits likely to occur if we do a few key parts of it (Warkworth bypass and a Schedewys Hill deviation) plus quickly get onto safety upgrades.

That’s a sensible way to move forward. I thought Cameron Brewer supported being careful when public money gets spent? I guess, like so often happens, that principle goes out the window when it comes to flash new motorways.

Share this


  1. Right, now I want to see who voted for what in the council. The Herald still keep labelling it as a $700M (or so project) when NZTA have already said it will be a billion dollar project. What’s a few hundred million between friends :-).

  2. “That’s a sensible way to move forward. I thought Cameron Brewer supported being careful when public money gets spent? I guess, like so often happens, that principle goes out the window when it comes to flash new motorways.”

    Flash new motorways and money going to churches Partrick 😉

    I think Brewer must of had a Brain Fart yesterday but still, must find out who voted on which lines.

  3. LOL….Why don’t you apply the same arguments to the Holiday Highway as you do the Skypath and vice versa?

    Has anyone looked at the $/km maintenance figures for Skypath and the roads around it that will have increased traffic?


    Why are a few local residents in Warkworth getting so upset about the Motorway extension? Think of the greater good of Aucklanders wanting to go to the beach.

    Seems to be BOGOF on standards on this blog 😀

    1. Actually Phil, I think you’ll find most people on here who are opposed to this ludicrous spend of tax payer money are from Auckland. I certainly am. I did spend most of my youth in Northland, I still have strong ties to the area, and I oppose this project.

    2. Erm, the residents of Warkworth love the plan, it’s us Aucklanders that don’t want to set money on fire. If you were less of a nimby and more focussed on regional and national issues you might see that.

      Why not the same argument? Because the Holiday Highway stage 1 is a billion dollar environmentally destructive traffic-reinforcing project to merely duplicate a parallel highway that isn’t very busy in the first place.

      Skypath, that’s a $28 million dollar sustainable project to provide non-traffic access in a location that has none.

      Yes you’re right, supporting a footpath between the two halves of Auckland must automatically make us demand a motorway through the rural north, yeesh. Talk about a one trick pony, anyone else bored of this trick yet?

      1. Some Warkworth area residents do oppose it and have a good reason to – as we saw in the previous debate that Phil weighed into, people’s houses will be demolished.
        But let’s not allow this discussion to be waylaid by one person with, as Nick has pointed out, one very boring trick.

        1. Yeah, without looking back, I think Bob’s house sits on the designation. Quite a bit different to Phil’s case.

    3. Well as Mees nicely said:

      “Dr Mees said Aucklanders had been conditioned to think that the transport debate was between all motorways and no public transport or mainly motorways and a bit of public transport.

      Elsewhere the debate was between all public transport and no motorways and equal shares of motorways and public transport.”

      So I guess, getting the Skypath which is it should be mentioned will be almost wholly funded privately, means we should be satisfied with no more money spent on anything but motorways. After all, providing a second motorway next to an existing one to save 1-2 minutes travel time is much more important than say providing a city wide high quality cycle network that could me built with less than has the 1-2 billion that the Holiday Highway is costing. Imagine the savings in the health and ACC budgets from fewer deaths, injuries and improved health resulting from such a network. If only.

    4. There’s a functional alternative route to the Steven Joyce Memorial Holiday Highway that will deliver most of the benefits of the SJMHH for a fraction of the cost – apply Project Lifesaver to the existing route, bypass Warkworth, done.

      There is no functional alternative to Skypath. But as a troll you already know this.

        1. Maybe we could symbolise it with a sculpture showing money being burnt? Toll road users could throw bills into the flame.

      1. Hahaha thats a far better name than the holiday highway! Would love to see Labour and the Greens start referring to it as the “Steven Joyce Memorial Holiday Highway”.

  4. When I am sitting in yet another traffic jam created by the smallest of incidents in Auckland I will think of the idiotic waste of money by this “economically savvy” government and the its supporters in the Auckland Council on a motorway somewhere out of Auckland to nowhere. And then realise that we still have no action to deal with the 45 year old problem in this city of gridlock.

    Then again next time Cameron misses a really important board meeting because of gridlock in Auckland he can take comfort in the fact he can get to holiday villa in the far north a little quicker on holiday weekends.

    How much will this frivolous motorway cost annually to maintain and for what gain?

    1. Actually, they HAVE a plan to deal with the gridlock. It’s called “complete the motorway network”, and involves building the Eastern Highway, the Onehunga-Sylvia Park motorway, the Reeves Road Flyover, building a Second Harbour Crossing for cars, motorwaying Upper Harbour Drive, adding more lanes to SH1 south of SH20, upgrading the two routes to the Aiport to motorway standard, etc…

      Let it never be said that these people don’t have a plan.

      1. I remember when the Western Ring Route was touted (by John Banks I believe) as the completion of the motorway network. We’re almost there. Anything after the Waterview tunnel and associated SH16 work is definitely overdoing it.

        1. When the last square metre of Auckland has finally been paved with tarmac, I’m sure there’ll still be a traffic engineer somewhere in the NZTA ranting on about having to build a new flyover in order to complete the motorway network. And there’ll always be a right wing politician acting as an echo chamber, along with the Herald and its tired old trooper, John Roughan (who, like Garth George, will never die).

  5. Roads of National Significance should be change to Transport Routes of National Significance. Then maybe the rail loop could be in with a chance. But i guess getting to the bach is of the utmost importance. Is there no chance of fast rail North? And then tootling around the holiday towns via scooters.

  6. Two questions:

    1) Roughly speaking, how long would it take for the NEX from Silverdale to the CBD, under the busway’s current alignment? and

    2) Is there any discussion on getting peak-hour bus lanes on the bridge and on the city-side of the route? From a previous post I think currently only 41% of the busyway route is actually bus-only. Its a disgrace.

    1. believe or not George Wood actually asked AT people about buslanes on harbour bridge it at a council meeting last week!
      AT said them and NZTA were monitoring the situation however did not think the benefits would be worth it yet.
      Of course there are much more delays from Britomart to the motorway than actually on the bridge so that should be done first.

      The busway to Silverdale annoys me a bit, can’t see it being needed in a hurry. However as is thrown in with extension to Albany the extension misses out.
      Hopefully it will be done when the Northern is widened through there.

      1. What downside is there to allowing the majority of people crossing the harbour bridge (who do so in a bus these days) a faster journey?

    2. It takes roughly 25 minutes from Greville Rd interchange to Britomart .
      Getting thru the Greville road interchange is actually a bigger delay than Fanshawe to Britomart . (In my recent experience at about 0645 at Greville and 0710 at Britomart.)
      Not sure how long bus trip is from Silverdale to Greville Rd. Some buses call at Albany Station and some dont which which could add 5 minutes

    3. NEX doesn’t stop at Silverdale.

      By the way, outbound along Fanshawe Street has been terrible the last few days.

  7. While some are saying the 16-4 council vote means the council is overwhelmingly in favour of the project it is no that simple.
    The motion passed as this:

    That the Regional Development and Operations Committee:
    a) agree that the council response to the Environmental Protection Authority in relation to the Notice of Requirement for Ara Tūhono – Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance:
    i) confirm that the Puhoi to Warkworth section of Ara Tūhono – Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance is part of a proposal of national significance.
    ii) recommend that the proposal should be referred to a board of inquiry.
    iii) confirm the Auckland Council does have capacity to process the matter if required.
    iv) delegate to the Chair and the Deputy Chair of the committee, working with the Manager North West Planning, the task of preparing a list of potential board of inquiry members for the proposal.

    See page 7 onwards here:

    1. Mmmh, basically they said “better a board of inquiry than us” – which is fair enough. Why should Auckland Council carry the can for a road most of its members don’t want. And then be accused and threatened with dismissal and replacement by Mr Brownlee once they start doing anything he doesn’t like? We’s seen it before, aka Environment Canterbury, CERA, Housing Accord and subsequent verbal quashing of said Housing Accord etc…

      Better not play that game.

      1. It is a reasonable decision. The project is supposed to benefit Northland, after all, despite being in Auckland. This makes it a national issue, not just something for Auckland Council to deal with.

  8. So what’s happening to democracy in New Zealand? How soon before we start seeing NZ’s Taksim Square or Outono Brasileiro?

    1. A very long while yet, and I’d much rather prefer things change in peaceful ways – “vote them out” is the appropriate response in a democracy. Wasting money is a classic in all politics, so that alone doesn’t come near to creating a crisis, as much as it pains us.

  9. Determining whether something fits criteria of national importance is about the extent of environmental effects. So basically the worse a projects effects are the more likely it’ll go to a board of inquiry.

    Nothing about support.

  10. I love those words, “supposed to benefit Northland” because as objectively as I tried to think of the benefits for anyone, or anything getting there 10 or 15 minutes faster I couldn’t..

    On my last trip north I looked at the types of people using the roads and I tried to imagine the benefits for them. After considerable thought I cracked it. “Harley” leaves his High Street law practice at midday on Friday after a hellishly hard week. After filling the boat and the boot he heads to Kings to pick up Spencer, and Alice-Louise from Dio. They head for the bach at Tutakaka. By hammering the Cayenne all the way along the new road they save heaps of time and Harley can still get in 9 holes at Kauri Cliffs. Try and argue that this isn’t great economic value!

  11. A big waist of money but I guess Government has to spend the money from the sale of Mighty River Power on something totally useless and unjustfied. All that is required are some safety works. If Government really wanted to do something usefull then they should repair the Gisborne railway line.

    1. Actually, according to NZTA’s own figures, the traffic count is 17,000 VEHICLES per day (not cars) on the section from Puhoi to Warkworth, but this drops to 9,000 per day between Warkworth and Wellsford. This shows that the main main destination or starting point is Warkworth or points west or east of Warkworth (such as Omaha and the other eastern beaches). Mike Lee was right to dub this road the Holiday Highway. It has nothing to do with providing an “umbilical cord” to Northland as Penny Webster continues to claim. Vast swathes of land to the north and east of Warkworth are already being sold by farmers for subdivision ready for the housing boom in that area once the road is built and land prices are accelerating faster than those in Auckland. It’s a developers dream come true.

  12. “I thought Cameron Brewer supported being careful when public money gets spent? I guess, like so often happens, that principle goes out the window when it comes to flash new motorways.”

    It’s called socialism for the rich & austerity for the rest of us.

    And it may be old news, but my Holiday Highway poster is more relevant than ever. Again, feel free to print and circulate:

  13. I thiink it would be a great idea to try and boost Northlands economy by moving ports of Auckland to Whangarei. We could have the container wharf there and that would create plenty of jobs for Northlanders and boost the economy. Having done that we could then build a motorway all the way between Whangarei and connect it to Auckland and the south via a new tunnel (rail?) and over the upper harbour bridge.
    Auckland harbour front (where the ugly container wharf is now) could be sold off to rich people to help fund infrastructure and Auckland CBD would be rid of a huge amount of commercial traffic. We would probably then have spare capacity on the bridge for the MAMIL’s to have a cycle path…everyones happy 😀
    All we need is money..Now if all of the socialists on this blog would get jobs and pay a fair share then maybe eutopia becomes affordable 🙂

    1. Yeah get one of John Keys 170000 new jobs, ..damn that baseless promise. Just think of all the 50 tonne plus trucks that could transport containers from Marsden Point to Auckland on the holiday highway, now that’s eutopia

    2. Phil, welcome to the addictive world of transportblog. Disappointed to see you haven’t yet posted a Northcote Point perspective on the Basin Reserve flyover 😉
      Finding people on this blog who hold that “the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” – good luck with that (Doloras excepted).
      Around here opinions are valued based on how compelling they are, not according to the income of the person holding them 😉

      Your idea about moving the port: there’s been quite some discussion on that already: – it has some appeal.

    3. Numerous reasons why Marsden Point would work well:

      1. It’s naturally deep water compared to POA which to my understanding needs semi-regular dredging of the Rangitoto channel.
      2. It’s about 10km from the North Auckland line, and has been mooted as an easy extension – just there has been a lack of political will.
      3. I’m still not sure whether the holiday highway would still be required, especially if the rail line was improved (tunnel lowering etc) and the application of inland ports.

      Also, as NCD said.

    4. Other than the motorway (obviosuly rail would be much more effective) that is actually a great idea and well supported. Look at what Sydney and London have done with the land freed up by moving their ports. And the profit realised from selling that land would more than pay for the costs involved.

      Apparently Marsden Point would be a much better harbour than Auckland.

      “Socialist” – anyone who fancies themselves right wing juts bandies that word around now as an insult without even understanding what it means. It has very few negative connotations for me – as opposed to Communist which does having lived in a few ex-Communist countries. Socialist democracies like Germany and in Scandinavia dont seem to be doing too badly.

      Could you tell the partners in my firm that I dont have a job, They keep requiring me to come into the office and draft documents, which I find really gets in the way of my blogging! 🙂

      1. You cannot by definition live in a communist country as a country requires governance and communism has none.

        A more common term is Stalinist, or my favourite is Dicta-Socialist. Represents that the majority of society has socialism, but he select few have more socialism than others.

  14. Cheers. $320m odd seems pretty reasonable in comparison. That combined with Mr Peters transport idea could take some of the pressure off Ports of Auckland and associated commercial land needs in Auckland.

  15. My apologies for calling people socialists…I realise that’s not big or clever…I’d rather be called a cxxt 😀

    1. oh the endless irony that billions on roads is capitalism, but propose spending a fraction of that on Public Transport and it is socialism!
      I just don’t know how people can be so blind, really shows them up to be narrow minded.
      (Note not aimed at you Phil, general frustration at CitRats and other assorted fools).

  16. The EPA is all part of the National Government;s rubberstamp mechanism to take environmental issues out of the hands of regional councils where it belongs into government control. Which of course is a bad thing.

  17. National are a useless bunch of politicians what do you expect. They enjoy spending our money and making us in debt until the end of time!!!!

  18. Just read this –

    “A meeting is to be set up with Tauranga’s MPs after city councillors expressed deep frustration at being unable to get the $61 million Route K debt off its books. The council yesterday agreed to continue discussions for the New Zealand Transport Agency to take over Route K as a state highway, even though it meant the debt would continue to be held by the council.”

    I have no idea of the history of this project, but it sounds terrible for a local council to have to bear the costs of a highway. Hopefully, the Holiday Highway & other RoNS projects don’t have a similar structure..

    1. Harminder they won’t have the same structure because of this bad PR for motordom but many are still built under equally false assumptions about need. The transmission Gully nightmare is hugely expensive and will not generate much use compared as the region is not growing. Which is why there is going to be a terrible and bogus PPP where we the people carry the can no matter how few drive on the thing.

      1. OT but I just found 2 NZTA reports on the Tauranga North Link. In the 1st one NZTA estimated 30k vpd by 2031. In the 2nd report they ramped that up to 40k vpd. To get a better cost benefit perhaps?

        1. And what have they got now? Ooops i see the article says 3800. Wow that’s some growth those modellers just pulled out of their arse! 3800 to 40,000 in less than 20 years, when driving is no longer growing like it’s 1965 anymore. Corrupt.

          1. That’s something like 15% growth in traffic every year for 18 years… wow, love to see what assumptions they had to cook up to get the model to spit out those numbers! Does Auckland suddenly move to end of this road then? Deeply corrupt.

Leave a Reply