New Zealand State Highway 5

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State Highway 5 NZ.svg

State Highway 5
Route information
Maintained by New Zealand Transport Agency
Length: 247 km (153 mi)
Tourist
routes:
Thermal Explorer Highway
Major junctions
Northwest end: Tirau
Southeast end: Bay View
Location
Primary
destinations:
Rotorua, Wairakei, Taupo
Highway system
SH 4 SH 6

State Highway 5 is the second shortest of New Zealand's eight national highways. It extends from SH 1 at Tirau, on the plains of the Waikato River, to SH 2, close to the Hawke Bay coast at Bay View, 10 km north of Napier. Distances are measured from north to south.

For most of its length, SH5 is a two-lane single carriageway, other than a two-kilometre section of dual carriageway in Rotorua, with at-grade intersections and property accesses, both in rural and urban areas.

Route[edit]

This is the route that SH5 takes in 2007.

Tirau to Taupo[edit]

The highway leaves SH1 at Tirau, heading east and ascending to cross the Mamaku Ranges to Lake Rotorua. The highway skirts the southwestern edge of the lake, entering the city of Rotorua and continuing south through the Rotorua-Taupo thermal area to the upper reaches of the Waikato River. It follows the river's upper valley past Wairakei and the Huka Falls to the town of Taupo, on the northeastern edge of the lake of the same name. Between Wairakei and Taupo, the highway runs concurrently with SH 1.

Taupo to Napier[edit]

From Taupo, SH 1 continues along the lake's eastern shore, while SH 5 heads southeast through the rough hill country of the Kaingaroa Forest. The highway climbs and twists, crossing the headwaters of the Rangitaiki River and the watershed of the Mohaka River, before crossing the 708-metre Titiokura Saddle and heading down to the coast close to the mouth of the Esk River. This part of the road is very varied, with many points of interest on the route.

Soon after leaving Taupo, the highway passes "The Terraces", an 1889 hotel named for the now-lost local black silica terraces. Various hot pools are found in the area.

The 65,000 year-old volcanic Mount Tauhara is seen to the east shortly after the road starts to climb to the volcanic plateau. The highway passes through the small settlement of Opepe, which is at the intersection of two major pre-European walking tracks (Taupo-Napier and Urewera-Tokaanu). A military stockade was built there in 1869 and the township thrived for several years in the late 19th century, though little remains of it today.

Beyond Opepe lie the Kaingaroa plains, formed from the ash from the great Taupo eruption of 186 AD. Until 1955 the plains only supported tussock and scrub. With the use of clover and the overcoming of a cobalt deficiency in the soil, the development of large farms became possible. The Kaingaroa Forest, which lies on these plains is one of the largest man made forests in the Southern Hemisphere. Radiata (Monterey) pine is the main species.

The Rangitaiki conservation area, a 5000 hectare reserve of the tussock shrublands that once covered the plains, is located some 40 km southeast of Taupo. The area is also known for its "frost flats". Unlike much of New Zealand, here tussock and shrub grow in lower areas sheltered by tall trees on the hills.

Several sets of waterfalls lie on the Waipunga River close to the northern side of the road between Rangitaiki and Tarawera, notably the Waipunga Falls and Hukawai Falls. The Waipunga Valley stretch, known as the Runanga deviation, replaced the last unsealed part of the highway and opened in 1972. It was difficult to construct and passes through several deep rock cuttings. The highway continues past the hot springs of Tarawera before climbing to the small settlement of Te Haroto, once a busy timber-milling town.

The highway next crosses the Mohaka River, the site of one of New Zealand’s major road tragedies during the 1990s, when a housebus plunged from the bridge. The Mohaka river is a popular spot for both whitewater rafting and trout fishing.

The highway next ascends to cross the Titiokura Saddle, the site of a proposed electricity generating wind farm, before passing through Te Pohue, a former coaching stop for travellers heading inland from Napier. A few kilometres further on is an unsealed road leading to Trellinoe Park, one of New Zealand’s largest private gardens.

From here, the road descends into the Esk River valley, a fertile area with vineyards and orchards, as well as one of the country’s few lavender farms, which is open to the public.

Route changes[edit]

Prior to the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake the road met State Highway 2 at Petane (now Bay View). The earthquake raised the land and altered the course of the Esk River; the course of the highway was changed to follow suit.

State Highway 5 once ran through central Rotorua. The old route left the current route at the Lake Road traffic lights, and followed the route of Lake Road, Ranolf Street, Amohau Street, Fenton Street, and Hemo Road, where it re-merges with the current section. Today, State Highway 5 follows Old Taupo Road, which bypasses the central city to the west.

Major Junctions[edit]

Territorial authority Location km Destinations Notes
South Waikato District Tirau 0 State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1/Thermal Explorer Highway north
Hamilton
SH 5 begins
37°59′06″S 175°46′04″E / 37.9849°S 175.767689°E / -37.9849; 175.767689 (SH 1/SH 5 intersection (Tirau))
State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 south
Taupo
Tapapa State Highway 28 NZ.svg SH 28
Putaruru
SH 5/SH 28 concurrency begins
State Highway 28 NZ.svg SH 28
Matamata, Tauranga
SH 5/SH 28 concurrency ends
Rotorua District Ngongotaha State Highway 36 NZ.svg SH 36
Ngongotaha, Tauranga
Rotorua 50 State Highway 30a NZ.svg SH 30A
(Pukuatua Street)
City Centre, Whakatane
Whakarewarewa 55 State Highway 30 NZ.svg SH 30 east
(Hemo Road)
City Centre, Whakatane
SH 5/SH 30 concurrency begins
Waipa Village 56 State Highway 30 NZ.svg SH 30 west
Tokoroa, Te Kuiti
SH 5/SH 30 concurrency ends
Waiotapu 77 State Highway 38 NZ.svg SH 38
Murupara, Waikaremoana
Golden Springs 99 Mihi Bridge
Waikato River
Taupo District
Wairakei 124 State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 north
Hamilton
SH 5/SH 1 concurrency begins
38°37′24″S 176°06′00″E / 38.623442°S 176.099896°E / -38.623442; 176.099896 (SH 1/SH 5 intersection (Wairakei))
Taupo 132 Control Gates Bridge
Waikato River
135 State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 south
(Lake Terrace)
Palmerston North
SH 5/SH 1 concurrency begins
38°42′18″S 176°05′16″E / 38.70511°S 176.08781°E / -38.70511; 176.08781 (SH 1/SH 5 intersection (Taupo))
Hastings District District contains no major junctions
Napier City Bay View State Highway 2 NZ.svg SH 2/Pacific Coast Highway north
Wairoa, Gisborne
SH 5 and Thermal Explorer Highway ends
State Highway 2 NZ.svg SH 2/Pacific Coast Highway south
Napier, Hastings

See also[edit]