New Zealand State Highway 5

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State Highway 5 NZ.svg

State Highway 5
Route information
Maintained by NZ Transport Agency
Length262 km (163 mi)
Thermal Explorer Highway
Major junctions
Northwest end SH 1 at Tirau
Southeast end SH 2 at Bay View
Rotorua, Wairakei, Taupo
Highway system
SH 4SH 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, SH 5 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. The New Zealand Transport Agency classifies SH 5 as a regional strategic highway, except for the concurrent section with SH 1 through Taupo where it is classified as a national strategic road.[1]


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. From Wairakei the highway runs concurrently with SH 1 bypassing Taupo to the east.

Taupo to Napier[edit]

From Taupo, SH 1 returns to the lake's eastern shore and heads south, while SH 5 leaves SH1 via a roundabout at the Napier-Taupo road and heads southeast, through the Kaingaroa Forest. The highway climbs and twists past Iwitahi, 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.

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).

Beyond Opepe lie the Kaingaroa plains, formed from the ash from the great Taupo eruption of 186 AD.

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.

Most recently, the Taupo Bypass was constructed shifting the original State Highway 1 from the township and lakeside to the eastern outskirts of Taupo. State Highway 5, which shares a concurrency with SH 1 from Wairakei to the Napier-Taupo Road, now also follows this route.

Major junctions[edit]

Territorial authority Location km jct Destinations Notes
South Waikato District Tirau 0 New Zealand road sign W11-1.svg SH 1 south – Taupo
SH 1 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))
Tapapa 5 New Zealand PW-11 (right).svg SH 28 south – Putaruru SH 5/SH 28 concurrency begins
7 New Zealand PW-11 (left).svg SH 28 north – Matamata, Tauranga SH 5/SH 28 concurrency ends
Rotorua District Ngongotaha 43 New Zealand road sign W11-1.svg SH 36 – Ngongotaha, Tauranga
Rotorua 50 New Zealand road sign W10-4.svg SH 30A (Pukuatua Street) – City Centre, Whakatane
Whakarewarewa 55 New Zealand road sign W11-1.svg SH 30 east (Hemo Road) – City Centre, Whakatane SH 5/SH 30 concurrency begins
Waipa Village 56 New Zealand PW-11 (right).svg SH 30 east – Tokoroa, Te Kuiti SH 5/SH 30 concurrency ends
Waiotapu 77 New Zealand PW-11 (left).svg SH 38Murupara, Waikaremoana
Golden Springs 99 New Zealand PW-44.svg Mihi Bridge (Waikato River)
Taupo District
Wairakei 124 New Zealand road sign W11-1.svg Wairakei Drive – Taupo
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))
126 New Zealand PW-44.svg Waikato River Bridge
Taupo 135 New Zealand road sign W11-1.svg SH 1 south – Turangi, Palmerston North
Napier Road – Taupo
SH 5/SH 1 concurrency ends
38°42′18″S 176°05′16″E / 38.70511°S 176.08781°E / -38.70511; 176.08781 (SH 1/SH 5 intersection (Taupo))
Rangitaiki 169 New Zealand PW-44.svg Rangitaiki River Bridge
Hastings District Te Haroto 220 New Zealand PW-44.svg Mohaka River Bridge
Napier City Bay View 262 New Zealand road sign R2-2.svg SH 2 north – Wairoa, Gisborne
SH 2 south – Napier, Hastings
SH 5 ends

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "One Network Road Classification: North Island State Highways" (PDF). New Zealand Transport Agency. Retrieved 10 January 2016.

External links[edit]