Thousands turned out today for the official opening of the $1.4 billion Waterview tunnel.

Prime Minister Bill English said the Waterview tunnel project was 60 years in the making and a big day for New Zealand.

Simon Bridges, Prime Minister Bill English and Steven Joyce at the Waterview Connection tunnel opening. Photo / Michael Craig
Simon Bridges, Prime Minister Bill English and Steven Joyce at the Waterview Connection tunnel opening. Photo / Michael Craig

"This is part of a massive pipeline of investment now that goes into supporting a strong economy and population growth.

"There are a lot more projects in the pipeline and this gives us real confidence that we have got the infrastructure capacity to do the investment that is needed to support growth in New Zealand."

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Posted by Carmel Sepuloni on Saturday, 17 June 2017

"You can make roads look ugly but you can make mayhem attractive to the eye," English said at the Mt Roskill end of the tunnel.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today marked a pivotal milestone not just for Auckland but New Zealand's highway network.

English, Bridges and Finance Minister Steven Joyce have cut the ribbon to mark the completion of one of the country's biggest public projects.

Prime minister Bill English and Simon Bridges MP and Steven Joyce MP open the Waterview connection tunnel. Photo / Michael Craig
Prime minister Bill English and Simon Bridges MP and Steven Joyce MP open the Waterview connection tunnel. Photo / Michael Craig

Other signatories attending the opening include Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern.

Waterview tunnel's golden scissors. Photo / Michael Craig
Waterview tunnel's golden scissors. Photo / Michael Craig

This will be followed by the public walking and cycling through the twin, 2.4km tunnels.

The tunnel completes the 48km western motorway ring route - a second motorway route through Auckland - and includes a giant motorway interchange at Great North Rd to connect the southwestern and northwestern motorways.

Sign welcomes those attending the Waterview tunnel opening ceremony. Photo / Michael Craig
Sign welcomes those attending the Waterview tunnel opening ceremony. Photo / Michael Craig

At five open days over the next 10 days, 60,500 people will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk and cycle inside the tunnel, with its 140,000sq m of paint - black for the roof, white for the walls - 4000 lights and 400km of cabling and wiring.

Both tunnels were bored by a giant tunnelling machine, named Alice. At 2.4km long, Waterview takes the record off the 1.97km Lyttelton tunnel as the longest road tunnel in New Zealand.

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