Setting speed limits

Orange cones placed on road for roadworks.

We are a Road Controlling Authority and are responsible for setting speed limits on our local roads.

When we set speed limits, we have to follow a range of national standards and rules. We also need to consider the needs of the local community.

A key aim in setting speed limits is to reduce serious injury and fatal crashes while maintaining an efficient road network. This enables us to set safe and appropriate speed limits that better match the road environment.

All speed limits on local roads are now identified and set in a National Speed Limit Register. This register provides a single national source for all speed limits.

The National Speed Limit Register can be viewed online: 

National Speed Limit Register (nzta.govt.nz)

Reviewing speed limits

When we review a speed limit, we are required to follow a process that is set out in the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022.

To comply with this new rule, there are some things we must do, including:

  • producing a Speed Management Plan that sets out how we will make our roads safer for all road users.
  • lowering the speed limit to 30km/h outside most of our schools (permanent or variable). For some rural schools, the speed limit must be 60km/h or less.
  • Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) must certify our Speed Management Plan to ensure that it is consistent with the National Road to Zero Road Safety Strategy and National Speed Management Guidance.

In setting new speed limits, we must consult Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), the Police, the Automobile Association (AA) and local communities. We are also required to consider a wide range of other matters, including:

  • the average speed that people are driving on the road now (this is often much different to the actual speed limit)
  • crash risk
  • the surrounding land use
  • what the road is used for (does it connect rural communities or is it an area where people stop)
  • the geometry of the road
  • whether the road is sealed or unsealed.

Ideally, roads with a similar look and feel to them should have a similar speed limit, no matter where you are in the district, region or country. 

New speed limits

 We have completed a review of speed limits 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 (Onerahi to Ocean Beach).

The final phase of the Whangārei Heads catchment, including all side roads, will be implemented by June 2024. 

What’s next?

Consultation opens on the Speed Management Plan for the Tūtūkākā Coast, Hikurangi and Ōakura

Whangarei District Council is proposing a new Interim Speed Management Plan for the Tūtūkākā Coast catchment area in accordance with the Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2022.

From 29 May to 26 June 2024, we are asking for feedback on our Speed Management Plan, which proposes to lower the speed around several schools, high-priority roads and urban areas in the Tūtūkākā Coast catchment area. We want to set speed limits that better acknowledge the local conditions and surrounding environment.  

The review area includes the following urban areas and coastal villages:

  • Tūtūkākā
  • Ngunguru 
  • Matapōuri
  • Hikurangi 
  • Whananaki
  • Ōakura.

We are continuing to consult on proposed speed limit changes in the Tūtūkākā Coast catchment area due to numerous community requests and feedback, following 101 reported crashes in the past five years.

Find more information and have your say: 

Speed Management Plan for the Tūtūkākā Coast, Hikurangi and Ōakura

Related information

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% to 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.