New Zealand Upgrade Programme: A closer look at the $8 billion transport spend

A whopping $8 billion has been allocated for infrastructure across New Zealand with the majority of it going to the North Island - and it includes rail, roads and public transport upgrades. 

The country's six main growth areas - Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury and Queenstown - are the focus of the spend-up, but the bulk of it, $3.4 billion, is going to our largest city. 

The Government has allocated $6.8 billion for "transport infrastructure", as well as $1.1 billion for rail - that's on top of the $1 billion given to KiwiRail in Budget 2019 - and $2.2 billion for new roads in Auckland. 

The aim of the funding boost, according to Transport Minister Phil Twyford, is to free up funding in the National Land Transport Fund and Auckland Transport budgets. 

How the money's being spread

  • Auckland - $3.48 billion
  • Northland - $692 million
  • Waikato & Bay of Plenty - $991 million
  • Wellington - $1.35 billion
  • Canterbury - $159 million
  • Queenstown - $90 million

The Government has provided a list of the road projects that will benefit from the multibillion-dollar package, and they include projects that have already been announced by the former National-led Government. 

How the money will be spread.
How the money will be spread. Photo credit: Supplied

What's Wellington getting?

The proposed Melling Interchange project for the Hutt Valley was put forward by the previous Government and the Opposition's transport spokesperson Chris Bishop - MP for Hutt South - has been advocating strongly for it.  

It's one of the projects that will be funded - granting Bishop's Christmas wish. The project will cost around $258 million and construction will start in late 2022 with an estimated completion date of 2026. 

Wellington will also get $59 million to improve SH58 between Hutt Valley and Porirua, where in the last 10 years four people have died. 

National's transport spokesperson Chris Bishop.
National's transport spokesperson Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Newshub

Auckland's the big winner

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is hailing the Government's plans as "wise". 

"We have been talking to the Government for several months about what Auckland needs in this infrastructure package and I commend the Government for delivering on our calls."

The proposed Penlink project, a 7km link from Whangaparaoa Peninsula across Weiti River to join SH1 bypassing Silverdale, will be given almost half a billion dollars - $411 million - starting in late 2021. 

On top of that, the National Party-backed Mill Rd corridor proposal will go ahead, providing an alternative route from Manukau to Drury. The project is getting a whopping $1.3 billion and construction will start in late 2022. 

Bishop has criticised the Government for putting those projects under threat through lack of funding in recent years amid fears they wouldn't happen before 2030.  

Providing New Zealanders and tourists with safer options for walking and cycling is the final another of the Government's massive infrastructure investment. 

Auckland's first walking and cycling connection across the Waitemata Harbour - SeaPath - has been given $360 million to provide one of the "critical links" in completing the city's walking and cycling network. 

Auckland is also getting a huge rail investment which is touched on further down. 

What about the rest of the country? 

There are now confirmed plans to make SH1 from Ōtaki to Levin four lanes to improve safety. It comes after the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) put the brakes on a proposed Ōtaki to Levin expressway last year.  

The project will cost $817 million and construction won't start until 2025, with an estimated completion date of 2029 - almost a decade away. 

Tauranga is getting a big boost. Not only is the Government putting $478 million towards the new Tauranga Northern Link connecting SH29 to Te Puna - it's also putting $455 million towards an extension of it. 

That almost half a billion dollars will connect Te Puna to Omokoroa - a four-lane corridor, responding to growth which now extends to Omokoroa, which is considered part of Greater Tauranga.

Northland's package includes $692 million on a new 22km four-lane corridor from Whangarei to Port Marsden, with a separated shared walking and cycling path. 

Canterbury is getting $159 million mainly for highway safety projects, new bus lanes, cycleways, better services, and a more reliable route for freight to Lyttelton Port. 

The Queenstown package includes $90 million to improve public transport into the town centre on SH6A and ease congestion on SH6, as well as improving walking and cycleways - particularly since it's become such a tourist hotspot. 

The rail projects 

Four rail projects will be funded as part of the $12 billion package, including $315 million to build a third rail line to ease the bottleneck between Wiri and Westfield in south Auckland. 

South Auckland features heavily in the $1 billion rail investment. 

Extending electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe of the Auckland metro network by 19km will cost $371 million, and $247 million will develop the Drury railway station in south Auckland, with two new stations at Drury East and Drury West. 

The rest of the money, $211 million, will go towards improvements to the Wellington, Wairarapa and Palmerston North network. 

It includes upgraded tracks for the Wairarapa Connection lines, safety connections and refurbishment of Capital Connection carriages.