Waikato expressway: Motorists can now bypass Huntly

A section of the new Waikato expressway opened to drivers on Monday. 

The $300 million, four-lane highway takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly - bypassing the small town.

This particular section connects with the completed expressway at Ohinewai and Ngaruawahia.

Work on the section of road has been underway since 2015.

"The project has been complex and challenging but also hugely rewarding for all involved," NZTA portfolio manager Darryl Coalter said.

It will improve safety and reduce time on the road cutting 35 minutes from the trip between Tirau and Auckland, the NZTA says.

While drivers are happy about quicker travel times some Huntly retailers told Newshub they were worried they'd miss out on the more than 20,000 drivers that pass through the town most days.

"We may stay for a couple of weeks and see how it goes and then we'll make a plan after that, but you know we are gonna miss out on the one-off people who are here on holiday," said Karen Putwain, who runs a seafood truck in the area.