Waikato Expressway

Posted on April 29, 2016

NZTA’s Waikato Expressway project is the largest road project undertaken in the history of the Waikato Region.

When complete, the expressway will provide a four lane highway from the Bombay Hills to just south of Cambridge, significantly reducing the travelling time from Auckland to Hamilton, and making driving considerably safer. This major investment in road infrastructure is expected to lead to significant economic gains for the Region.

The expressway has large tracts of revegetation plantings on the embankments, swale drains, lake verges and other areas of ecological significance. Earlier plantings are well established and beautifying the natural landscape.

The last section to be completed is from Tamahere to Cambridge. This section began in 2013 and was completed in December 2015. Kauri Park Nurseries has been closely involved throughout the Hamilton to Cambridge section of the project, working closely with HEB Landscapes for plant supply.

To date, more than 300,000 plants have been planted in the Tamahere to Cambridge section, with another 50,000 plants to complete the plantings this year.

An area of major ecological significance was the Karapiro Gully area, part of the habitat and forest corridor for the native long- tailed bat. Over the last few years much of this area had become infested by weed species which has been cleaned out and replanted in species that will enhance the area and provide a home for the bats. This includes species such as Kahikatea, Totara, Matai, Kowhai, Rewarewa, Mahoe, Cabbage trees, Karamu, Kanuka, Manuka, Kohuhu, and some English oak trees.

Embankments have been planted in ground cover coprosma species, flaxes, Carex grasses, Kanuka, Manuka, Karamu, Cabbage trees, Akeake, Pigeonwood, Kawakawa, and Ngaio.

Wetlands have been planted in Oioi, Schoenoplectus, Baumea, Wiwi and Carex’s.

HEB involved the local iwi in planting a substantial number of plants in the Karapiro Gully and across the riparian flood plains.

There were regular bouts of inclement weather during the project which, at times, damaged areas that had been prepared for planting and generally created difficult planting conditions. Close communication between HEB and Kauri Park allowed coordination of deliveries, often at short notice, when planting conditions were right and planting teams were on site.

The older plantings have established well with strong growth record and are expected to reach complete coverage within the next 3 years. The plantings are looking a picture of health.