SH5 between Napier and Taupō reopened, reconnecting communities

Mon, Mar 20

After five weeks of road closures and detours, some cyclone-hit communities are finally being reconnected this morning, with State Highway 5 being reopened.

State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō is now open to all traffic during daylight hours - between 7am and 7pm.

The road had previously been closed due to damage sustained during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Before today the detour between the two communities was a five-hour drive; with the road reopened, it will take just over an hour and a half.

This morning the road was lined up with excited travellers who could get out of Hawke’s Bay and have a little bit of a break.

Last week the road was open to truck convoys, but now it’s ready for the public.

Frasor Thomas, a trucker who frequently uses SH5, told Breakfast the roads reopening shows how far things have come since Gabrielle first hit.

“It’s good to see how far it has come, and today they’ve opened it up to the public, so we must be getting somewhere,” he said.

He said the road is vital to businesses and truckers like himself as it cuts a lot of time off his trips.

State Highway 5 the Napier-Taupō Rd

“It’s vital; it's essentially our main route in and out. To be going around the long way just added days to trips.”

“It's amazing how essential it is until you don’t have it,” he said.

The road had seen 32 damaged sites following the cyclone, ranging from minor dropouts to “significant” underslips and washouts.

“We’ve had crews working incredibly hard from both the Taupō and Napier ends of the highway, clearing,” Waka Kotahi NZTA’s Hackyn Hankin said.

“Restoring connections like SH5 is critical to support the country’s economic and social growth and to provide resilient and safe access for our farming, horticulture and tourism sectors to connect with local and export markets.

Crews will be checking the road nightly to ensure that it is safe for vehicles to drive on.


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