Roll-over of the 90 day speed limit changes, alternate Picton to Christchurch highway via the Lewis Pass/Murchison


The NZ Transport Agency last year advised that changes to speed limits were going in place on the new Picton to Christchurch alternate highway, in the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.

The changes reflected the needs for safer speeds in some areas of the new route and the huge increase in traffic volumes, particularly freight traffic, along the route – state highways 7, 65, 6 and 63.

The emergency legislation covering these new safe speed rules ran for 90 days. As of this week, it has now been rolled over for a further 90 days, pending further consultation for this busy state highway route.

There are some sites where feedback from Police, councils, the Transport Agency’s own safety team and the community has indicated the emergency limits were not appropriate for the road environment. The Transport Agency had the opportunity to make some limited changes when extending the current emergency rule. 

These changes were:

  1. Raising the speed limit at the intersection of SH1 and SH7 at Waipara from 60km/h to 80km/h. An 80km/h speed limit is more appropriate at this junction for road users to adjust their speed as it matches road users’ expectations of the safe speed to be travelling on the highway environment.
  2. Reducing the speed limit from 100km/h to 80km/h from Marble Point near the Glenallan Stream Bridge to 1.5 km past the SH 7/7a intersection, the Hanmer Springs turnoff. Extending this 80km/h section past the intersection with SH7A where sight lines are limited and the intersection is regularly used by slower vehicles such as camper vans and trucks is the safer option.
  3. Removing the section of road between Blenheim and Woodbourne from speed restrictions ie effectively raising the speed limit from 80km/h to 100km/h. A 100km/h speed limit is more appropriate for this section of road.
  4. Removing the urban section of Murchison from the emergency rule. This will enable the installation of a variable school speed zone of 40km/h for which a separate consultation process is currently underway.

As well as the continuation of the safe speeds emergency rule over much of this route, the Government is also investing $60 million in upgrading(external link) parts of the route to make it safer and more resilient. This includes widening several sections of road, ongoing resealing work along the route, installing several new bailey bridges alongside existing one-way bridges, installing traffic signals at one-way bridges, and using radars and webcams to measure traffic volumes and provide travel updates.