Speed limit reviews

  • Project scheduleOngoing
An image of the road with Slow written on road surface.

As part of the Road to Zero National Road Safety Strategy, we're reviewing speed limits in the Whangārei District.

We are prioritising areas where there is the greatest evidence that changing the speed limit will make the most difference in reducing serious injury and fatal crashes.

Our goal is to improve overall road safety to reduce serious harm and fatal crashes.  At the same time, we are also seeking to make our communities safer for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.  We also need to match new speed limits with the road environment.

Latest speed limit reviews

We have completed a review of speed limits in the Whangārei Heads area. 

We are implementing the new speed limits in a two staged process, with stage one focussing on the highest risk part of Whangārei Heads Road. 

We are currently implementing new safe and appropriate speed limits between Whangārei and Parua Bay, including side roads.  These new speed limits will come into effect on 15 December 2023.  New signage will be unveiled between 4 and 15 December 2023.

A list of roads and the new speed limits coming into force can be viewed in the public notice below:

New speed limits coming into force 15 December 2023 - Whangārei Heads

We will be completing the remainder of the Whangārei Heads catchment area in March 2024.

You can read the Recommendations Report and Interim Speed Management Plan below:

Recommendations Report Whangārei Heads(PDF, 3MB)

Interim Speed Management Plan Whangārei Heads(PDF, 3MB)

What's next?

We are currently producing a Regional Speed Management Plan.  This Plan sets out speed limit changes that will be implemented over the next three years (2024 - 2027).  We expect to consult on this Plan in the first quarter of 2024.

The Regional Plan will include:

  • Speed management objectives and policies
  • Planned changes to speed limits
  • Implementation timeframes
  • Infrastructure requirements for new speed limits
  • A 3-yearly cycle for reviewing speed limits

The Regional Speed Management Plan is a ten year document which includes a detailed programme of infrastructure improvements for the first three years of the plan. 

For Whangārei, we will implement the physical works for the Tutukākā area, which includes the communities of Glenbervie and Kiripaka as well as all other coastal communities north to our District boundary.

This area will be our first project in the 2024 - 2027 Long Term Plan and is targeted for completion by the first quarter of 2025.

Additionally, we plan to complete the Whangārei City during the 2024 - 2027 Long Term Plan as well as all schools within the Whangārei District. 

Due to factors outside of our control, the original completion dates for this project have been significantly delayed.

A new Setting of Speed Limits Rule was adopted in the midst of this Long Term Plan period which caused us to delay our programme until the new rule and associated guidance came in to effect.

Additionally, setbacks due to a lack of resources during COVID, has delayed our entire speed limits programme. We acknowledge this and thank you for your patience.

We expect to start community engagement on the Regional Speed Management Plan at early 2024.  

Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2022

A new Setting of Speed Limits Rule (2022) came into force on 19 May 2022.

The new Rule creates a new focus on speed management and promotes a region-wide approach to setting safe and appropriate speeds on both the local and State Highway network.

There are a number of changes to how we review and set new speed limits, including:

  • A new National Speed Limit Register (NSLR)  
  • New Speed Management Plans
  • New rules for setting speed limits around schools
  • New Speed Limit Areas

The setting of Speed Limits Rule 2022 can be viewed online: 

Land Transport Rule - Setting of Speed Limits 2022 (nzta.govt.nz)

Completed reviews

We have completed speed limit reviews in the following areas:

  • Vinegar Hill
  • Marsden Point, One Tree Point and Ruakākā
  • Waipū township
  • Waipū South, including Cove Road, Waipū Cove and Lang Beach
  • Speed Limits on beaches
  • Whangārei Heads area

New speed safe and appropriate speed limits are now in force in the above areas.

New speed limits from Whangārei to Parua Bay (including side roads) come into force on 15 December 2023, with the remainder of the Whangārei Heads area coming into force in March 2024.

To view current speed limits in these areas, or any other area in Northland, you can follow the link to the National Speed Limit Register below:

National Speed Limits Register (nzta.govt.nz)

Why are we reviewing speed limits?

We are reviewing speed limits as part of the Road to Zero National Road Safety Strategy, a nationwide initiative. This strategy is aimed at reducing fatal and serious harm crashes on our roads.

The strategy recognises that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of road fatalities in the developed world. Northland has the highest rate of serious injury and fatal crashes in New Zealand. 

The Road to Zero, National Road Safety Strategy, promotes a Safe System approach including:

  • improved driver education, behaviour, and skills
  • improving the road network by making it safer
  • improving the safety of vehicles using the road
  • addressing unsafe speeds

Speed Limits are one area that we can address now and have an immediate impact on reducing serious injury and fatal crashes.

Road to Zero - National Road Safety Strategy (nzta.govt.nz)

Surviving a crash

A slower speed will significantly reduce the chance of you having a crash.  If you are involved in a crash, a slower speed will dramatically increase the chances that you will walk away.

Wherever a speed limit has been lowered, or better matched to the road environment, we have recorded a reduction in the number of crashes and the severity of those crashes that do occur.

If you are in a head on collision at 100km/h the chances of surviving are about 5% -10%, but in the same collision driving at 80km/h your chance of survival rises to about 80%.

Journey times

It is surprising how little the overall journey time is affected by a lower speed limit that reflects the safe and appropriate speed for the road environment. 

Most drivers travel much slower than the posted speed limit on our local rural roads. This is because the road may have many corners, is narrow or unsealed. Most people naturally go slower in these circumstances. In our urban areas, your average journey speed ranges between 26km/h and 33km/h, and even slower during peak times in some of our Northland towns.  

In Northland, many of our journeys on local roads are relatively short, with a typical journey being between 5km and 10km. This is because we tend to use the State Highway Network to reach more distant destinations.

Setting a safe and appropriate speed will reduce the top end of the speed spectrum, but will not normally impact on the average speed for most people. This creates a much safer driving environment for everyone.