Project introduction

The Christchurch Roads of National Significance programme will provide critical access to and from the Christchurch central business district, Christchurch International Airport and the Port of Lyttelton.

  • Estimated project cost

    $900 million
  • Project status


The Christchurch Motorway projects

The Christchurch roads of national significance project covers three corridors, which have been broken down into a number of smaller projects.

If you want to find out more about the individual projects click on the links below.

When did the NZ Transport Agency start planning the Christchurch Motorways?

How will these motorways address congestion?

For more information on ways to reduce congestion on the Northern Motorway visit our Northern Corridor Congestion – Facts, Stats and Answers page.

Project background

The Christchurch roads of national significance include various sections of state highways that provide critical routes to the Christchurch International Airport (SH1), into the Christchurch central business district (CBD) and to the Port of Lyttelton (SH74 and SH73).

Rapid growth in and around Christchurch, particularly in the Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts, is placing demand on the state highways to the north and south of the city and around its western edge, restricting efficient access to the city, the Christchurch International Airport and the Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (Lyttelton Port).

This $800 million highway construction programme is the most ambitious ever seen in Christchurch.  This investment will not only increase the capacity of our roads to handle ever-increasing freight traffic, but will improve safety for all road users. In addition it will provide an injection of government money into the local construction industry providing employment and other benefits for our region.

What are the benefits?

The impact of the Christchurch Roads of National Significance programme will benefit more than just road users and businesses in the City and around the region. The construction programme will create hundreds of jobs, improve access to facilities and destinations in Christchurch and beyond, and allow communities to reclaim their suburban streets.

  • Our travel benefits
    • Reduced peak-hour traffic congestion, improving access in and out of Christchurch.
    • Reduced travel time by up to 8 minutes (Northern Arterial) and up to 30 minutes (Southern Motorway).
  • Our economic benefits
    • Over half a billion dollars injected into the Christchurch and Canterbury economy over the next 10 years providing hundreds of jobs directly and indirectly.
    • Faster and more efficient movement of freight in and out of Lyttelton Port and Christchurch International Airport, and around the western edge of the city.
  • Our communities’ benefits
    • Reuniting communities, such as Belfast currently separated by SH1 and SH74, by reducing through traffic by up to 30,000 vehicles per day.
    • Heavy traffic moved off suburban roads, away from housing, schools, parks and local shops making them safer and more pleasant for walking, cycling and public transport.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is a road of national significance?

    The government has identified seven roads of national significance critical for ensuring access to significant markets and areas of employment and economic growth. Improving these roads will help grow the national economy by lifting productivity in New Zealand’s largest cities and surrounding regions. Making these key routes more efficient and safer will improve reliability of journey times, reduce severe congestion and improve key freight and tourism routes.

  • Where are the roads of national significance?

    The roads of national significance are located around New Zealand’s five largest population centres to reduce congestion and improve safety. Projects specific to these areas will be complemented by improvements to key arterial roads and urban public transport networks.

    The seven key routes are:

    • SH1 Puhoi to Wellsford
    • Completion of the Auckland western Ring Route (SH20, 16, 18)
    • SH1 Auckland Victoria Park bottleneck
    • SH1 Waikato Expressway
    • SH2 Tauranga Eastern Corridor
    • SH1 Wellington Northern Corridor (Levin to Wellington Airport)
    • Christchurch motorway projects.
  • What roads are included in the Christchurch roads of national significance?

    The Christchurch roads of national significance include various sections of state highways; SH1, the Western Corridor, from Main North Road in Belfast to Main South Road in Hornby; the Northern Arterial, a new road bypassing Belfast to connect with QE2 Drive; the Western Belfast Bypass, also bypassing Belfast and connecting with SH1 at The Groynes; and SH73, the Southern Motorway extension from Brougham Street to Halswell Junction Road (Stage 1) and then the further extension to rejoin SH1 south of Waterholes Road (Stage 2) and widening the existing highway as far south as Rolleston (Stage 3).

    These roads provide access to the international airport (SH1), the Christchurch Central Business District (CBD) and to the Port of Lyttelton (SH74 and SH73).

  • What makes this road building programme different from previous projects?

    The roads of national significance programme represents a substantial change in planning for major national transport infrastructure in New Zealand. They are lead infrastructure, proactive improvements that encourage economic growth. In the past, improvements have tended to be reactive and focused on improving transport networks to keep pace with growth.

  • How will the Greater Christchurch area benefit?

    Construction of the Christchurch roads of national significance will provide a range of benefits from savings in travel times and reductions in vehicle operating costs, through to productivity gains resulting from the reduction in time and costs involved with transport. This will assist the economy to function more efficiently and help achieve economic growth and improved productivity. Constructing the Christchurch roads of national significance will create both direct and indirect jobs, over and above the normal increase in employment through economic growth.

  • What relationship do these projects have with the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS)?

    The Christchurch roads of national significance are a key component of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS), the innovative plan for managing growth over the next 35 years by integrating land-use, infrastructure provision and transport. The UDS partners are the NZ Transport Agency, Christchurch City Council, Selwyn and Waimakariri District councils, and Environment Canterbury.

    Planned growth in Selwyn District (the Izone industrial park particularly) and in Waimakariri District requires improved access to the Christchurch CBD and key employment centres, and to the international airport and Port of Lyttelton. The Christchurch roads of national significance are essential for the successful implementation of the strategy for expanding Christchurch’s urban areas (particularly the South-west Area Plan and Belfast Area Plan) ensuring transport networks support urban and economic development.

  • When will the Christchurch roads of national significance be constructed?

    The Christchurch roads of national significance will be constructed as a series of individual projects over the next 10 years as designs, consents and property acquisition is finalised and construction funds allocated. A balance has been struck to get the roads constructed, while limiting disruption to motorists and freight operators using the roads, and ensuring local contractors have realistic timelines to build the roads safely and to standard.

  • How will the roads of national significance be funded?

    The government’s allocation of additional funds to state highway improvements will help to accelerate the development of the roads of national significance. In addition, the NZ Transport Agency is also investigating options for alternative funding to contribute to substantially completing all the roads of national significance throughout New Zealand over the 10-year period of the National Land Transport Programme.