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Levin town centre with cars stopped at traffic lights and people walking across the crossing

Four-laning State Highway 1 from Ōtaki to north of Levin (Ō2NL) continues the Kāpiti Expressway north of Wellington to support growth in Levin and provide a safer and more resilient route.

The NZ Upgrade Programme will spend $817 million on a new 24-kilometre highway, built to the east of the existing State Highway 1 (SH1) alignment.

This new highway will be four lanes. Investigations will look at opportunities to prioritise freight, public transport and vehicles carrying multiple people. The project includes a separated shared path for walking and cycling running the entire length of the new highway. It will link into shared path facilities built as part of the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway and Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway, helping extend the region’s cycleway.

Three of New Zealand’s top 100 dangerous intersections are along this route. In the five years to 2017, there were 49 deaths and serious injuries along the route, making it one of the country’s most dangerous sections of road to drive. The new highway will dramatically improve safety.

O2NL is critical for both the Wellington and the Manawatū–Whanganui regions to continue to grow. The new highway will ensure people and freight are able to safely and easily move between the two regions and the rest of the North Island. The project also ensures better access to the key distribution hubs at Palmerston North, the largest freight connection in the central North Island.

With no current alternative route when SH1 is closed by crashes or weather-related events, the new highway will provide a detour route and build resilience into the state highway network. Safety improvements on the existing SH1 corridor will continue as this road will be an important local road in the future.

The new highway will be built between Taylors Road north of Ōtaki, linking with the expressway, and ending just north of Levin, where the highway branches to head further north and west towards Palmerston North. It will support economic growth, allowing sustainable growth of Levin, meeting current and future transport demands.

Construction is expected to begin in 2025.

Find out more about the Ōtaki to north of Levin proposed new highway project.


Enables regional growth

Improves safety

Improves resilience


New 24km corridor with four lanes

Separated walking and cycling shared path


$817 million


Construction starts
– 2025

Construction completed
– 2029

Project map

Illustrated map showing the Ōtaki to north of Levin (O2NL) project areaDownload map [JPG, 874 KB]


Project timeline

Breakdown of the Ōtaki to north of Levin (O2NL) project timeline

Improving safety

Building network resilience

Supporting economic growth

Enhancing walking and cycling