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This page relates to the 2018-21 National Land Transport Programme.


This section sets out the guidance on the activity classes for road improvements.

There are three activity classes:

  1. Local road improvements – applies to approved organisations only for investment in improving the levels of service for new or existing local roads.
  2. State highway improvements – applies to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (state highways) only for investment in improving the levels of service for new or existing state highways.
  3. Regional improvements – applies to both approved organisations and Waka Kotahi (state highways) for investment to the transport levels of service outside of major metropolitan areas, to support regional economic development.

Crown appropriations for the Accelerated Regional State Highway Programme (ARSHP) apply only to Waka Kotahi (state highways). Activities funded through this mechanism are not subject to assessment and prioritisation under the Waka Kotahi Investment Assessment Framework, but are subject to any requirements set by the Minister of Transport.


Government expectations

The government has set out its expectations of the land transport system in the 2018 Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (external link)(GPS).

These include results from investments in state highway, regional and/or local road improvements from the National Land Transport Fund.


  • Short- to medium-term results

    For state highway, regional and/or local road improvements, the government expects (unless otherwise stated the results apply to all three activity classes):

    • renewed strategic focus to have the greatest impact on reducing death and serious injury (including developing a new road safety strategy and action plan in the next 12–18 months)
    • state highways and local roads are safer for everyone
    • cycling and walking is safer
    • a more accessible and better-integrated transport network including public transport, walking and cycling
    • improved land use and transport planning to create more liveable cities
    • improved throughput of people and goods in major metropolitan areas
    • improved transport access to new and existing housing including provision of public transport services
    • nationally important transport connections are maintained or improved to support areas of growth, changes in population, freight and tourism, and to improve safety
    • regional networks (including key regional freight routes) are safer, better connected and more resilient
    • improved transport connections (including local roads, public transport and active modes) on key regional tourist routes to make these routes safer for all
    • a reduction in overall single occupant private vehicle travel, particularly in urban centres
    • improved good-quality, fit-for-purpose walking and cycling infrastructure
    • improved real and perceived safety for both pedestrians and cyclists
    • increased proportion of journeys made using public transport and active modes of travel (including children travelling to and from school)
    • improved resilience on routes where disruptions pose the highest economic and social costs
    • improved targeting of resilience risk and vulnerabilities through the use of an integrated whole-of-system approach, which may include investment in non-transport infrastructure when this has clear transport benefits
    • when disruption to the network occurs, impacts of disruption are reduced at the parts of the network that have the most economic and social importance
    • reduced greenhouse gas emissions from land transport using a whole-of-system approach
    • reduced significant harmful effects of land transport-related noise
    • reduced significant harmful effects of land transport-related air pollution
    • reduced significant negative effects on water quality and biodiversity from construction and ongoing use of transport infrastructure
    • a more rigorous and transparent investment appraisal system
    • enhanced reporting, monitoring and evaluation on GPS 2018 investment
    • more effective and efficient investment from innovation in systems, standards, procurement and technology.
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  • Long-term results

    For state highway, regional and/or local road improvements, the government expects (unless otherwise stated the results apply to all three activity classes):

    • significant reduction in deaths and serious injuries

    • metropolitan and high growth urban areas are better connected and accessible

    • better access to markets, business areas, and supporting tourism

    • enhanced testing and deployment of intelligent transport systems and other technologies to make the best use of existing networks

    • increased mode shift from private vehicle trips to walking, cycling and public transport

    • improved network resilience for the most critical connections

    • reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport

    • reduce transport’s negative effects on the local environment and public health

    • increased uptake of active travel modes such as walking and cycling to support environmental and public health objectives

    • better informed investment decision making

    • improved returns.

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Qualifying for NLTP consideration

For Waka Kotahi to consider a road improvements activity for inclusion in the NLTP, this activity must:

  • be public ie be defined as any road that is available to the public on a full-time basis
  • be included in a regional land transport plan (RLTP)
  • meet the definition of road improvements activities in the GPS 2018
  • fit into an appropriate work category in this knowledge base.

Once an activity is included in the NLTP to be considered for funding, the approved organisation and Waka Kotahi (state highways) must comply with the Waka Kotahi Procurement manual and procurement rules, as well as any relevant standards and guidelines as listed in the Waka Kotahi Register of network standards and guidelines.

Another qualifying activity is the Housing Infrastructure Fund(external link) – advanced funding for transport projects to enable fast-tracking of the construction of new housing developments, as per the Housing Infrastructure Fund allocation. 

Road improvements activities described in the following work categories are eligible for inclusion.



Regional improvements activity class

 Regional improvements were added as a new activity class in the GPS 2015–18 for improvements to roads in regional New Zealand. The GPS 2018–21 defines the activity class as an investment in the transport levels of service outside major metropolitan areas to support regional economic growth. Regional improvements activities will therefore represent road improvements that best contribute to thriving regions.

The main principle around the regional improvements activity class is that it allows a regional focus on sustainable regional economic development that is safer and better connected, supports tourism, improves transport connections and/or responds to resilience risk on important regional roads.

The regional improvements activity class will use the same assessment criteria and work categories as local road and state highway improvements. This is done to allow for all road improvements activities to be optimised together.

Allocation of activities to the regional improvements activity class will be made by Waka Kotahi on the basis of eligibility under the GPS and prioritisation through the IAF. 

There is a range of criteria a project must fulfil in order to be included in this activity class.

  • Principles that apply to the activity class

    For a project to be included in the regional improvements activity class it:

    • must fit into a road improvements work category
    • is restricted to eligible areas outside the major metropolitan areas – areas not eligible for funding as regional improvements are the major metropolitan areas set out in the 2018 GPS Appendix 5. These are the following main urban areas as defined by Statistics New Zealand in Classification-Urban Area 2013 v2.0 and have significant areas with employment densities greater than 100 jobs per square kilometre:

      • Northern Auckland Zone
      • Western Auckland Zone
      • Central Auckland Zone
      • Southern Auckland Zone
      • Hamilton Zone
      • Tauranga
      • Porirua Zone
      • Upper Hutt Zone
      • Lower Hutt Zone
      • Wellington Zone
      • Christchurch
      • Dunedin
    • uses the road improvements activity classes investment assessment criteria.
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Funding assistance for local road improvement projects that benefit state highways

Local road improvement projects may, at the discretion of Waka Kotahi, be partly or fully funded as effective state highway improvement projects from activity class 12 or 13 or 20.

The following criteria apply:

  • greater state highway benefits can be purchased per dollar when compared with upgrading the state highway
  • Waka Kotahi and the local authority have agreed that the project is the best investment option
  • Waka Kotahi and the local authority have agreed on attribution of benefits and sharing of construction costs
  • the project is unlikely to proceed if left to the local authority (ie funded at the normal funding assistance rate).

Normal or targeted enhanced funding assistance rates, as the case may be, shall apply to each party’s share of the cost of improvements. Arrangements for road maintenance may differ on a case-by-case basis.


Further road related funding policy guidance

Further guidance on road related topics can be found by following the links. The policy within these is to be applied to applications for funding assistance as relevant.



Development of road improvements activities

See the Requirements for improvement activities, packages and programmes.

For guidance on low cost, low risk roading improvements, see WC 341: Low cost, low risk roading improvements.


Assessment of road improvement activities

Waka Kotahi assesses road improvements activities (other than low cost, low risk  improvements) proposed for funding from the National Land Transport Fund under its IAF.

See Assessment of low cost, low risk improvement programmes for guidance on low cost low risk roading improvements.