The final chapter of a 30-year roading project has come to a close with the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway open to traffic.
For people it means faster travel times, less congestion, improved safety and four lanes to cruise through the countryside. However, for the environment the impact is arguably much greater.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency sought to create a “landscape edge” to accompany the road that would create a unique experience for road users and deliver the required environmental outcomes of a project of this nature.
Armed with over 1 million native plants all sourced and raised by hand in the Waikato, Natural Habitats planted over 10 hectares of native vegetation including the restoration of 3 gullies and 13 wetlands. This has taken place over a lengthily 6 years, inclusive of site preparation, spraying, mulching, top soiling, planting and maintenance.
Wetlands are a celebration of their native ecology. Swales are built, planted with high-performing native species that slow and treat runoff. Gullies are planted with numerous native species to add more habitat for native bats and insects to call home.
“There is no doubt there will be significant safety and economic benefits for Hamilton and beyond that, but there are also other positives” says Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate.
“Over time, given the plantings, the expressway will become a wonderful biodiversity corridor. And along the way, the journey also showcases some wonderful artwork that helps tell the rich cultural history of our region.”