Wairakei to Taupo section of State Highway 1

Engineering Work (eg road, bridge, sawmill, dam)


The Taupo to Wairekei section of State Highway 1, opened in 1972, was one of the first parts of that road specially designed and constructed to maintain sympathy with the natural environment.

In 1968 D A Thom presented a paper to Auckland Branch of the NZ Institution of Engineers (now IPENZ) entitled ‘Roads in the Landscape’, and in 1970 the then Prime Minister (the Rt Hon Sir Keith Holyoake) told an environmental conference that it was a sign of New Zealand’s progress that no longer did we regard a road simply as a road, but we realised that it must be functionally efficient, as well as pleasing to the eye and in tune with its environment.

That environmental conference made several recommendations to the then National Roads Board on the landscaping and beautification of all public roads.

The same year (1970) a revision of Thom’s original paper published in ‘New Zealand Engineering’ set down an environmental code for the implementation of the conference recommendations and placed on record some relevant aspects of road design and planning incorporating also recommendations from a British ‘Countryside’ conference, and a U.S. White House conference on national beauty.

Because the impact of roading on the environment is immense, the roading engineer is a key figure and his positive contribution can add greatly to the potential of New Zealand’s scenic attractions. This section of State Highway 1 is a prime example of this policy.

Controlling authority: Transit New Zealand
Design: Ministry of Works and Development
Contractors: Taylor & Culley Ltd

Heritage recognition
IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project

This item of New Zealand’s engineering heritage was recognised as part of the IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project which the Institution organised to help celebrate the country’s sesquicentenary in 1990. A plaque was unveiled to mark the significance of this road as part of the development of the nation.


No Attachments


North of Taupo, State Highway 1

King Country / Central Volcanic Plateau

Access Info
This section of State Highway 1 is open for use at all times.

Nature of Engineering
Transport (Road, sea, air, incl vehicles)