Government criticised over Northland four-lane highway decision

National is accusing the Government of turning its back on Northland following Transport Minister Phil Twyford's confirmation that a four-lane highway between Warkworth and Whangārei is off the agenda.

He told RNZ on Thursday the highway, promised by the previous Government, would take up nearly all the transport budget.

Instead, extensive improvements and safety measures are planned for the existing highway.

"Phil Twyford has washed his hands of the project," said National's transport spokesman Jami-Lee Ross.

"He's saying a few extra passing lanes and some barriers would be enough."

Mr Ross said a four-lane highway had been prioritised by the previous Government because it was a gateway from Auckland to Northland.

"The Government is running a giant confidence trick against regional New Zealand - and people in our regions are rapidly starting to see it," he said.

NZN