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Project introduction

The Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project will assess options for improvements to connections between the North Shore and the City Centre.

  • Estimated project cost

    $100 million +
  • Project type

    Study & Investigation
  • Project status


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About the project

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport (AT) and Auckland Council have been working in partnership to investigate more resilient, reliable and efficient transport options to connect the growing number of people, goods and services moving across the Waitematā Harbour between the North Shore, Auckland City and beyond.

Project need and purpose

The growth of Auckland’s North Shore and the wider region is placing increasing pressure on the transport system. This pressure is being particularly experienced on State Highway 1 (SH1) and the Northern Busway. This is a nationally significant corridor, providing access within the North Shore, from the North Shore and across the Waitematā Harbour to the Auckland isthmus, and acting as the most direct link between Northland, Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.  The corridor is already under pressure and faces some resilience challenges. These pressures and challenges are forecast to increase further as population and employment continues to grow.  

The need for further investigation work has come in response to wider strategic initiatives, such as the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), the Auckland Plan 2050, and associated projects, in particular AT’s North Shore Rapid Transit Network (RTN) investigations and the work Waka Kotahi has been doing with AT and AC to support growth to the North and Northwest of Auckland.

About the recent business case phase

  • Longer-term planning for Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections has been underway for some time and the recent planning phase to establish next steps is now complete.
  • The recent planning phase has involved the development of a document called a business case, which analyses the current and future problems faced in Auckland’s Northern Motorway corridor (including the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Northern Busway), assesses a number of options for addressing these problems, and recommends a way forward to provide a comprehensive and long-lasting response.
  • While there have been a number of previous studies into improved connections across the Waitemata Harbour, these studies have largely focused on options analysis, rather than defining the problem to be solved or outlining a case for investment.

Programme of Future Work

The recent business case has recommended a programme of investments over time to address these issues. This programme follows best practice transport planning principles by looking to influence travel demand patterns and optimise existing networks before adding major new infrastructure. Key components of the programme are:

  • Further investigate options to optimise existing infrastructure and delay the need for major investment (e.g. by influencing growth patterns or using road pricing).
  • Upgrade and enhance the Northern Busway over the next few years to increase its capacity, reliability and overall service quality into the future. A Detailed Business Case further investigating Northern Busway enhancements is already being progressed by AT.
  • Develop an additional rail-based rapid transit connection for the North Shore (including across the Waitematā Harbour to the city centre), that supplements and integrates with the upgraded Northern Busway and the wider public transport network to provide more public transport travel options.
  • Improve roading connectivity to address resilience issues and growing all-day congestion on the state highway system, including the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Next steps

  • Phase 1: An additional rapid transit connection across the Waitematā Harbour. This phase will investigate the form (including mode) and alignment (route) of the new cross harbour rapid transit connection, including an understanding of timing such that it may be in place prior to the enhanced busway reaching capacity;
  • Phase 2: Strategic transport networks (road and rapid transit). This phase will combine investigations of the wider rapid transit network on the North Shore with what roading system improvements should look like, when it is required, and how the new road crossing would interact with Phase 1. This will include assessment of separate or combined crossing options.
  • Phase 3: Future proofing and route protection. This phase will seek to route protect the land identified as required from Phases 1 & 2.

This future business case planning work is expected to begin in 2021. This work will take an integrated full system approach and interdependencies with other transport projects need to be a key part of this future investigation.


  • Planning work will continue in 2021 during the next phases to further investigate what is required to deliver these options and when they are needed, including engagement with stakeholders and the community to help shape the project and gather insights into what customers need for future connections.
  • These long-term solutions will likely be New Zealand’s biggest transport investments, costing billions of dollars and would be expected to take more than 15 years of design and construction work.
  • Consistent with earlier ATAP work, due to the time required to develop such major work, construction is not anticipated to start until at least the 2030s, other than the Northern Busway improvements that will start sooner to help keep up with growing bus patronage.

Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP)(external link)

The recent business case document is available to view

View it on the Technical reports page