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Planning for freight

The cost of moving freight directly impacts on our standard of living.

By delivering freight efficiently, the cost of doing business is reduced and can result in cheaper goods for all New Zealanders and an increased competitive advantage for our exporters. This helps grow our economy and create employment.

The amount of freight moved is growing. It’s expected that freight movements will double over the next 30 years as our population and economy grows. This growth will be heaviest in the upper North Island, particularly within the Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, which currently carry more than 55 per cent of New Zealand’s freight. As a trading nation, 13 ports and four airports handle most of our imports and exports, so pressure on the network will also be focused on these key places for freight.

How we’re working with our partners to deliver freight plans

To deliver freight efficiencies that are future fit, we’re working in partnership with the owners and movers of freight as well as local government, ports and KiwiRail. New Zealand’s freight supply chains are complex and there are a large number of players involved in their operation and investment so it’s important to work together.

Upper North Island freight planning

Upper North Island Freight Accord brochure


The initial focus of collaborative freight planning has been in the upper North Island as the four regions in this area face some of the biggest freight challenges and opportunities. This is due to the volume of freight produced and moved in these regions, and the potential for growth.

In late 2015 we finalised the Upper North Island Freight Accord [PDF, 2.1 MB] with a number of partner organisations in industry and local government. 

The Accord outlines developed a shared pathway to a more efficient and safe freight system through a joint approach to planning and investing in the region’s future freight needs.

The Upper North Island Freight Accord follows on the from the 2013 Upper North Island Freight Story. The Accord builds on the work done in the Freight Story to identify the critical issues, challenges and opportunities facing the region.

All the organisations involved recognise the need to work collaboratively to identify and prioritise the critical issues that will add the most value for the region. This partnership approach has involved workshops and conversations with industry, freight generators and operators, ports, and central and local government.

Find out more about the upper North Island freight story

Developing other freight plans collaboratively

We’re also working with our partners on freight plans for central New Zealand and the South Island.

These plans are being developed in a similar way to the upper North Island freight story. They will ensure better alignment across the private and public sectors. When completed, they will have clear and tested assumptions, common data and the endorsement of all partners.

A draft South Island Freight Plan has been completed and this can be viewed here. A summary of the feedback received on the draft plan can be viewed here [PDF, 464 KB].

Once all three inter-regional freight plans are more developed, work will begin on drafting an overarching national plan. This document will bring together the key national questions raised by the inter-regional plans, the most important being how the freight system can be planned and developed as ‘one network’ and how we can help people make smart choices about moving freight.

How investment helps make freight movements more efficient

We plan and invest in transport networks, from state highways and local roads, to public transport services.

The 2015-18 National land Transport Programme includes a number of investment initiatives aimed at delivering a safer and more efficient freight system.

This investment will help provide better transport connections and increased network capacity. Those moving freight, together with other road users, will have improved travel times, greater travel reliability, reduced vehicle operating costs and a safer transport system.

Find out more about the 2015-18 NLTP

Integrating Road and Rail to move freight

One of our key strategic priorities is integrating road and rail to improve freight network productivity.

To improve the safety and efficiency of the land transport system, long-term planning for the road and rail networks, including the development of inter-modal hubs, must be better coordinated. To achieve this we will be working closely with KiwiRail and other freight sector stakeholders such as exporters and importers to deliver a better connected road and rail network.

Find out more about this and other priorities in our 2015-19 Statement of Intent (SOI)

High productivity motor vehicles move more freight with fewer trips

Another significant freight efficiency project is making it easier for freight operators to use high productivity motor vehicles (HPMVs). These are heavier and/or longer trucks that are permitted to carry additional volumes of freight, which includes the 50MAX programme.

The use of HPMVs can significantly improve efficiency by moving more freight with fewer truck trips, when the roads are suitable and it’s safe to do so..  The uptake of HPMVs is also encouraging industry to invest in newer, more efficient trucks that have more advanced safety features such as anti-lock braking systems and electronic stability control.

More information about HPMVs

Road user charges (RUC) model means user pays

Anyone using our roads contributes towards their upkeep. Most road users pay charges through the fuel they buy, while others, such as drivers of light diesel vehicles and diesel-powered heavy vehicles, pay through RUC.

Find out more about RUC