The Waikare Gorge realignment project will bypass 6km of the existing State Highway 2, which includes the slip- and rockfall-prone Waikare Gorge between Wairoa and Napier.

The project will include 3.9km of new road and a 160m-long arch bridge, approximately 60m above the Waikari River.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency regional manager of infrastructure delivery Rob Partridge said that the devastation caused by a cyclone and the destruction of the gorge bridge has shown just how crucial the realignment project is.

A new Bailey bridge has now been installed and the road has reopened to daytime traffic between Wairoa and Napier. Contractors are continuing to work on other damaged sites.

“This project will make this section of the road resilient, safer and lead to more consistent travel times," said Partridge. “We’ve been working on this project since before the cyclone and funding to date has come as part of the Provincial Growth Fund, first announced in 2020. Progress on this project has been made possible in a large part thanks to the continued support from local communities.

“The past three months has shown us that whenever this section of SH2 is closed, for whatever reason, the impact on both Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay is huge. Even before the cyclone, this area has been prone to slips and rockfall, so a safer and more resilient journey over the gorge should help with more consistent and reliable journeys.

“An added benefit of the realignment project is that there will be minimal disruption to the existing road and road users, something I’m sure the communities in this area will welcome after the past few months.”

WSP is the transport agency’s consultant on the project.