Road improvements to Route 52

On this page:

Project Overview

Progress and Updates

Photo Gallery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)            



Project Overview

Route 52, formerly State Highway 52, traverses the entire length of the Tararua District over a distance of approximately 107 km.

This proposed investment provides for a range of improvements for adjacent Sections 44 and 63 of the Route, a 25km length of road between the Weber junction and Central Hawke’s Bay boundary as shown in the Figure below.

route 52 crop.png

Why are we doing this?

The road is recognised by Tararua District Council (TDC) as being a vital link for rural and coastal communities as well as being an important freight link; particularly for logs travelling to Napier Port.

In addition, the route is emerging as a popular tourism route, is promoted as a scenic alternative to State Highway 2 and forms part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail. TDC has recognised the potential for the Route to contribute to the economic development of the district.

The TDC Long Term Plan 2018 – 2028 (LTP) ranks the Route 52 upgrade as one of the district’s top priorities and the 2018-2048 Infrastructure Strategy provides for investment in the Route, recognising that if nothing is done, the road will continue to deteriorate at an increasing rate and will struggle to provide satisfactory access.

The condition of the Route is rapidly deteriorating due to:

  • Increased heavy traffic volumes as logging of the forestry plantations begin
  • Poor underlying geology couple with severe weather events
  • Original road construction not designed for current and predicted traffic volumes or loads, in particular heavy traffic

The rapid deterioration and poor surface condition of the Route, coupled with its narrow and winding nature, has created a number of resilience and safety concerns along the route and will not support the predicted increased demand from logging, tourists, and cyclists over the next 10 to 15 years.

What are we doing?

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), the Tararua Alliance, Tararua District Council and other key stakeholders such as forestry operators have workshopped the issues being experienced and potential options to address those issues. This collective approach has been taken to ensure that all parties are involved in the decision making process.

Workshops and a drive over of the Route were held with key stakeholders in late 2018. The project team created an Investment Logic Map for the Route that set out the problems faced, and the anticipated benefits that arise from dealing with the problems through investment in the Route. A number of options were then assessed.

Based on the scoring of five shortlisted options, the preferred option is Option 4 - Surface Condition/ Resilience/ Safety. The total cost estimate for the preferred option is $9.1 million over 3 years.

TDC is seeking a Target Enhanced Funding Assistance Rate (TEFAR) (which will mean 83% funding though NZTA) to enable works to be completed within three years with minimal financial burden on the ratepayers.

Works / projects that form Option 4 include:

Pavement works

  • Minor pavement repairs / digouts
  • 6km of pavement rehabs for high risk sites and priority widening sites



  • Drainage improvements to 6 sites plus associated drainage improvements with each pavement rehabilitation
  • Scour protection and culvert renewals / improvements


Seal Widening

  • Minor benching and filling of narrow sites
  • Road widening to 7.5m over approx. 9.3km



  • Improvements and widening of tight curves across 17 sites
  • Realign tight bridge approaches to Morgan’s Bridge



  • Minor safety improvements including signage and site rails across 14 sites
  • 550m of Guardrail at critical sites
  • 160m slow vehicle bay Section 63
  • Tourist improvements such as signage, directional arrows



  • Minor Bridge Improvements
  • Scour protection / streambed maintenance
  • Bridge upgrades to meet 50max requirements at four sites


Retaining walls

Covering 12 sites:

  • Rebuild failed retaining walls
  • Install new retaining walls



Progress and Updates

Current progress

Click on the image below to view the project progress map for this project.

Please check back later.

News and updates

  • Tuesday 15 December: Happy New Year Route 52

  • Friday 21 August: Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones announces $14.6m investment from Central Government for strengthening Route 52 between CHB Boundary and Weber.



Photo Gallery



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We don't have any FAQs yet - have something you'd like to ask? Contact us using the information below.



If you have a concern, complaint or compliment regarding this project, you can speak with a member of the Project Team by calling 06 374 4080 or 06 376 0110. You can also email with your contact details and request for a member of the Project Team to get in touch with you.