This was opened to the public last Friday 23rd after the VIP ceremony on Wednesday 21st, but your intrepid editors left it until today to give it a try-out.

By Roger Childs

We were due to drive north to New Plymouth for Christmas last Thursday and we thought we would be among the early riders on the new Peka Peka — Otaki expressway. There was an opening ceremony on the Wednesday – somewhat less expensive than for the inauguration of Transmission Gully. There was also a less distinguished cast. Mayor Janet Holborow was there, Deputy Minister of Transport Kevin McAnulty and a few others including the MP for Mana. Where was the MP for Otaki? It was obviously not important enough for the PM or the Minister of Transport. Perhaps that was because the highway was one of the last National government’s “Roads of National Significance”.

Just our luck

The transit authority had been advertising in the papers about the “on’s and off’s” of the new expressway including a one full page sales pitch. The Kapiti Observer front page blared “Expressway Open for Xmas.” However, NZ Transport Agency had talked about the Transmission Gully motorway being open by Christmas 2021 but, as it we all know, it didn’t happen. 

As it turned out last Thursday was a last-minute tidy-up time and the Friday was the actual opening day. 

Coming home on Boxing Day we did get to drive on it. It’s dark grey, smooth and a very pleasant ride. On the banks alongside the expressway, close to Otaki, the trees, shrubs and flaxes had been planted early during the construction, and are now maturing fast. 

Enjoyment and time saving

If you haven’t had your first ride on the new expressway you have a treat in store. In the future, people travelling to the Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Wanganui, Taranaki, Taupo and places further north will save at least 10 minutes.

by Geoffrey and Eva Churchman

Unlike the new highways from Tawa to PekaPeka, first the ‘Mwy’ and then the ‘Ewy’ at McKay’s Crossing, the new extension isn’t a whole new route and the old SH1 (and the railway) is always in sight, except when passing Otaki township. You get to see the Otaki station building and yard on the west side, which you didn’t on the old SH1 and the landscape at the station and just north of it has completely changed from what it used to be.

Except at the north and south ends, the new road is pretty straight and also pretty flat. For visitors from the south to Otaki township as well as, of course, the beach and the Otaki Forks, the off-ramp to use is the Otaki Gorge Road, which now has a new bridge over the ‘Ewy’. There is also a southbound on-ramp here for motorists from these places.

Motorists from the north wanting to visit these places have an off-ramp provided for them just north of the Otaki town. Those wanting to visit Te Horo from the north should take this off-ramp too, and then drive along the old main road. Coming from the south the Otaki Gorge Road off-ramp is the only choice, unless they want to take the Waikanae off-ramp at Te Moana Road and then drive east along it to the old main road, where they turn north again.

Because of the predominate straightness and flatness, it’s a pleasant albeit unspectacular experience. However at holdiday times like the present the merger of two lanes into one north of the Otaki town is a bottleneck: we got as far as the Otaki Gorge Road bridge before slowing to a crawl.

There is evidence of new planting including a lot of flax in some parts and what looks like a recently created pond between the Ewy and the railway near the PekaPeka end.

There are a couple of small decorative structures on the east side and also some decoration on the overbridges visible to both north and southbound drivers; although these only extend across two lanes, and not the whole width of the bridges, which looks a little cheap — if they were added at all, why not extend them the whole way?

With the opening of the extension, those who want to by-pass every Kapiti Coast township at 100 km/h can now do so. The new ‘Ewy’ ends at the northern boundary of the KCDC territory.