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Specialist vehicles

This page describes specialist vehicles in the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2016.

Read the definitions of dimensions and axle terms

Specialist vehicles are a type of higher mass vehicle that can carry divisible loads. They should not be confused with specialist overdimension vehicles. If they are over the general access axle mass limits they cannot be driven on the road without a permit from a road controlling authority (RCA) – usually this is the local council or the NZ Transport Agency for state highways.

The rule prescribes types of allowable specialist vehicles. They are:

  • Passenger service vehicles
  • Ground-spreader trucks
  • Concrete mixers
  • Rubbish trucks with compactor.

Passenger service vehicle

  • a motor vehicle used or available for use in a passenger service for the carriage of passengers, or
  • a motor vehicle with more than 12 seating positions, or
  • a heavy motor vehicle with more than nine seating positions.

Double decker bus 2-axle long bus

Ground-spreader truck

A ground-spreader truck distributes material from its storage container, spraying the surrounding area with its contents.

Ground spreader truck

Concrete mixer

A concrete mixer is a vehicle designed for the purpose of transporting and mixing concrete. A typical concrete mixer uses a revolving drum to mix the components.

Concrete mixer

Rubbish truck

A rubbish truck is a vehicle designed and constructed for the collection and transport of rubbish and to which is fitted a compactor. It doesn’t include general vehicles carrying waste.

Rubbish truck

Specialist vehicle conditions

Specialist vehicles that operate under permit from a road controlling authority must comply with the following conditions:

  • The vehicle is not to exceed mass limits set out in a defined schedule for specialist vehicles 
  • For axle mass limits other than those specified in the defined schedule the vehicle must not exceed the axle and axle set limits in the general access mass tables in the rule (see Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2016 for these tables)
  • Conditions imposed by a road controlling authority (to ensure the safety of road users, protection of infrastructure, or provide for compliance with the permit (including tracking systems))
  • A specialist vehicle cannot tow a heavy trailer (GVM over 3500kg).

Maximum sum of axle mass for specialist vehicle operating on permit

Type of axle set

Mass (kg)

A single large-tyred axle in a tandem axle set with a twin-tyred axle and a 55/45 load share

8100

Twin-tyred axle in any axle set

12,000

Two axles in a tandem axle set comprising:

a) a twin-tyred axle with a single large-tyred axle and a 60/40 load share

16,000

b) a twin-tyred axle with a single large-tyred axle and a 55/45 load share

18,000

Two twin-tyred axles:

a) spaced less than 1.3 m from the first axle to the last axle

17,000

b) spaced 1.3 m or more from the first axle to the last axle

18,000

Like overweight vehicles, specialist vehicles need a separate permit from every RCA whose area they travel through. This includes the Transport Agency for any travel on state highways.

A vehicle operating under a permit must comply with the following critical conditions:

  • The gross mass of the vehicle must not exceed the maximum gross mass specified in the permit
  • The gross mass of the vehicle must not exceed the gross vehicle mass, gross combination mass, maximum towed mass or brake code mass if any of these limits apply to the vehicle
  • The vehicle must comply with all bridge restrictions specified in the permit.

Breach of a critical condition attracts a higher fine ($2000) than a breach of other permit conditions. Further penalties for other infringements, particularly for overloading, may also apply.

Applying for a permit

Find out how to apply for a specialist vehicle permit

Factsheet

Download Factsheet 13h: Specialist vehicles [PDF, 316 KB]

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