Waka Kotahi is currently identifying roads where safer speed limits could make a big difference in preventing deaths and serious injuries.

Any proposal to drop speed limits is driven by the need to improve safety and reduce harm for everyone on our roads. It’ll help ensure that in coming years we don’t have thousands of people dealing with a road tragedy which could have been prevented or minimised had a slower speed limit been in place.

Safer speed limits help to reduce the severity of crashes when they occur by giving people users a better chance to avoid a crash, or walk away from one if it happens.

Our commitment to Road to Zero

Under our Road to Zero strategy, we’re committed to a target of 40% less DSIs (deaths and serious injuries) by 2030.

This is a step towards Vision Zero for New Zealand, an internationally proven vision where no one is killed or seriously injured in road crashes. This means that no death or serious injury while travelling on our roads is acceptable, and that we need to build a road system that protects everyone from road trauma.

Our commitment to Road to Zero addresses the safety of the whole network with a range of strategies using a ‘Safe System’ approach. Where we can and where it is the right solution, we will improve physical infrastructure or build new infrastructure and keep the existing network well maintained.

In this NLTP (National Land Transport Programme) period we are investing in a range of both safety projects and other types of projects that have safety benefits (such as the NZ Upgrade Programme).

Reviewing speeds by looking at what the data tells us about the highest risk roads, is another way that we can create a network that prevents people dying and being seriously injured.

We want to work with our iwi partners, local government partners, key stakeholders like the AA and freight groups, along with the people who live alongside the state highway network and the people who travel it.  Their feedback will help us come up with plans that balance the needs of everyone while helping to keep people safe.

Why is Waka Kotahi reviewing speeds in Canterbury?

Over the past ten years, more than 3200 people have died in road crashes in New Zealand and an estimated 23,000 have been seriously injured.

Here in Canterbury we have the second highest road toll as a region, behind the Waikato, with 188 deaths and 986 people suffering serious injuries in the last decade*.

Speed is playing an undeniable role in the horrifying numbers of people being killed and seriously injured on our roads.  If we are going to have a serious discussion as a country about improving our road safety record, that discussion must include how fast we are driving.

Deaths and serious injuries should not be tolerated – they are not inevitable.

Learn more about how we’re working with the NZ Police, Ministry of Transport, local government, WorkSafe and others to deliver our road safety strategy ‘Road to Zero’

*over a ten-year period 2011-2020, data extracted from the Crash Analysis System (CAS) March 2021

What are the new speed limits on SH73/75 and SH74?

From Friday 2 September 2022, the new permanent speed limits in the table below apply to State Highway 73/75 (SH73/75) between Christchurch and Akaroa, and SH74 Norwich Quay/Gladstone Quay in Lyttelton.

The change follows consultation with our iwi partners, key stakeholders, the community and people using the road.

To help remind drivers, the date the new speeds apply will be advertised in local media for four weeks. There will also be temporary electronic signs on the roadside for a couple of weeks and local police will be in the area closer to the time.

The details of the new permanent speed limits are:

Click to view larger version [PDF, 759 KB].

New permanent speed limits

State Highways 73/75 Christchurch to Akaroa, State Highway 74 Norwich Quay/Gladstone Quay, Lyttelton

State highway

Approximate location

Existing speed limit

New speed limit


105m south of Blenheim Road to 85m southeast of Lunns Road




85m southeast of Lunns Road to 130m northwest of Halswell Road




130m northwest of Halswell Road to 90m southwest of Augustine Drive




90m southwest of Augustine Drive to 230m northeast of Dunbars Road




230m northeast of Dunbars Road to 260m south of Candys Road (Halswell Township)




370m south of Sparks Road to 90m southwest of O’Halloran Drive (Halswell School)




260m south of Candys Road to 210m northeast of Lincoln Tai Tapu Road (Halswell to Tai Tapu)




210m northeast of Lincoln Tai Tapu Road to 360m south of Michaels Road (Tai Tapu Township)




70m south of Lincoln Tai Tapu Road to 80m northwest of Michaels Road (Tai Tapu School)




360m south of Michaels Road to 200m southwest of Morrisons Road (Tai Tapu to Little River)




200m southwest of Morrisons Road to 260m northeast of Western Valley Road (Little River Township)




260m northeast of Western Valley Road to 440m west of Church Road (Little River to Wairewa Marae, including marae)




440m west of Church Road to 680m northeast of Church Road (Wairewa Marae to Cooptown)




680m northeast of Church Road to 180m northeast of Mersey Street (Cooptown Township)




180m northeast of Mersey Street to 650m west of Pawsons Valley Road (Cooptown to Duvauchelle)




650m west of Pawsons Valley Road to 180m southeast of Pipers Valley Road (Duvauchelle Township)




180m southeast of Pipers Valley Road to 980m north of Takamatua Bay Road (Duvauchelle to Takamatua Straight)




980m north of Takamatua Bay Road to 570m north of Long Bay Road (Takamatua Straight)




570m north of Long Bay Road to 310m west of Rue Jolie (Takamatua Straight to Akaroa Threshold)




310m west of Rue Jolie to the end of State Highway 75 (Akaroa threshold to end of SH75)




40m west of Dublin Street to the end of State Highway 74 (Norwich Quay/Gladstone Quay – Lyttelton)



* Electronic Variable Speed Limit school zone signs display an enforceable speed limit that can be activated during peak school traffic times. The school zone speed limit may operate from 35 minutes before school until the start of school, and from 20 minutes at the end of school, beginning no earlier than 5 minutes before the end of school. It may also operate for 10 minutes at any other time when vehicles are entering or leaving school grounds or there is pedestrian or cycle activity on the road outside school. When the school zone is active, the speed limit is 30km/h and will be displayed on an electronic sign. At all other times, the speed limit is 50km/h.

** We consulted on 60km/h and 80km/h at Takamatua Straight and asked people for more feedback to help us with our final decision because our technical evidence supported both speed limits safely. We decided on 60km/h as this meets people’s requests for consistent speeds and will reduce the risk of near-misses people have reported at the intersection of Takamatua Valley Road/SH75 and there are cyclists and pedestrians around. A 60km/h speed limit is also more aligned with the 40km/h on local side roads at Takamatua.

What are the new speed limits for Banks Peninsula local roads?

After a joint community consultation process, our partner Christchurch City Council is deciding new speed limits on some side roads adjoining the highway in townships including Motukarara through to Takamatua. The full list, and the outcome of Council’s speed review, can be found on their website

Christchurch City Council speed limits(external link) 

Why have you set new speed limits on these highways?

Christchurch to Akaroa is in the top ten per cent of roads where we can make the greatest difference in reducing the numbers of people dying or being injured on our roads.

There are a number of safety issues, many of which have been raised by the community.

These include:

  • Feedback saying intersections on this road can feel unsafe. Drivers slow down to turn off the road to access homes, communities, businesses and tourist destinations in Banks Peninsula, while those travelling through continue to drive at 100km/h.
  • The current road layout makes it difficult for traffic to safely turn, and hard for drivers to see what’s ahead.
  • Urban areas and rural townships are getting busier, with more cars and other vehicles on the road and more people walking, riding and cycling in these areas.
  • Crash history – in the last decade there have been 739 crashes in this corridor. Nine people were killed, and 72 people suffered serious injuries in these crashes, leaving families and communities grieving and many people with life-long injuries. *

It’s time to stop paying the road toll. Our vision is an Aotearoa where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads - our goal is a 40 percent reduction in the next ten years.

Reducing the speed limit is one way we can have an immediate impact on the safety of the road. While it may not always be the cause of a crash, speed plays a major factor in its outcome and can be the difference between walking away from a crash or not walking away at all.

* On SH73/75 over the period 2011-2020, data extracted August 2021 from the Crash Analysis System (CAS).

When were the new speed limits decided?

The decision announcement on safe and appropriate highway speeds and the legal process to change the speed limits was completed on 11 May 2022.

May 2022 project update newsletter for more information(external link)

How were the limits decided?

The speed review process involves numerous steps that helped determine the speed limits we proposed at consultation.

For SH73/75, we firstly undertook a technical assessment of this road. This considered crash history, average speeds people are travelling, the number of vehicles on the road and development of surrounding areas to help us determine whether changing the speed limits would be the best thing to do to make the road safer. We also looked at where new speed limits might begin or end, and if any other safety improvements might be needed. 

The technical assessment found existing speed limits on the road were not safe and appropriate for the current road characteristics and roadside environments.

The next step was to engage with the community and ask for people’s insights on the existing speed limits so that we could better understand how people use the road, where people felt safe and where the road environment could be improved. This engagement process with partners, stakeholders and the community was undertaken between June and August 2021.

Feedback from engagement was then considered alongside the technical assessment to propose a number of safer speed limits along the corridor, as well as some minor improvements to the road environment such as line marking and signage.

Summary feedback from engagement – October 2021 [PDF, 1.3 MB]

The next step was to share the detailed proposal with the community through a formal consultation period which took place from 3 November to 3 December, 2021.

During consultation we focus on the evidence behind the proposed changes and ask if there is any other information that should inform our final decision. We’re not asking if people like the proposed changes or not, the purpose is to seek valuable local and community input so we can consider wider factors and context into our decisions.

At this time, the scope of the review was broadened to include SH74 Norwich Quay/Gladstone Quay. We worked in collaboration with the Christchurch City Council (CCC) to include Lyttelton and selected Banks Peninsula local roads in the public consultation package.

We received 670 pieces of feedback during consultation, thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts with us.

Setting new speed limits is a legal process, and Waka Kotahi as a Road Controlling Authority (RCA) is responsible for setting new speed limits on New Zealand’s state highways. We are guided by the Speed Management Guide, which is a national framework that helps RCAs make informed, accurate and consistent speed management decisions in communities.

Learn more about the speed review process:

Why did you consult on Banks Peninsula local roads in conjunction with Christchurch City Council?

Christchurch City Council is reviewing local roads on Banks Peninsula’s based on Waka Kotahi guidance on safe and appropriate speed limits.

We were consulting with the community about new highway speeds for Banks Peninsula, it made sense to collaborate with our local government partner and include local roads in a whole-of-network approach.

Prior to, and throughout the consultation period, we shared relevant information with Christchurch City Council, and vice versa. We also worked together to align our implementation dates for the new speeds, so people aren’t confused by signs changing at different times on side roads, in settlements and on the highways.

Why did you go straight to consultation on SH74 Norwich Quay/Gladstone Quay at Lyttelton?

An outcome of engagement with Christchurch City Council was a recommendation by the Council to include the Lyttelton township section of SH74 and some Banks Peninsula local roads in the Christchurch to Akaroa consultation on highway speed limits.

SH74 is a key transport connection to Lyttelton Port. The short section of SH74 consulted on intersects the local Lyttelton roads that were approved by Christchurch City Council in 2021 for a 40km/h safer speed limit. Continuing this 40km/h speed limit along the State Highway makes sense for consistency and for making it safer for people using this section of road. Our technical assessment also supported this decision, with average travel speeds being 30-41km/h.

How did people’s feedback help shape the new speeds?

As a result of community engagement, the following suggestions – which could be supported by the technical assessment, safety requirements and the rules and regulations for state highways – were incorporated in our proposal for SH73/75:

  • A number of people said a 50km/h speed limit was more appropriate than 60km/h for Little River as there were more cars around and people riding bikes or walking on both sides of the road, especially during weekends and holiday periods. Our technical evidence supported this as it showed people were travelling at lower speeds on average than previously recorded. As a result, 50km/h was proposed and consulted on for Little River.
  • We also heard concerns about speeds outside Wairewa Marae. With agreement from representatives from Te Rūnanga o Wairewa, improvements to help support a lower speed limit such as new signage, tree trimming, and line-marking were proposed and consulted on with the community. This resulted in the 50km/h limit through Little River being extended past the marae entrance. 

Why isn’t 100km/h the right speed on these rural roads?

In the past, speed limits on roads were based mainly on speed and mobility, with less consideration of the safety benefits of lower speeds. In the early days there was a more limited understanding of safety in relation to crash severity*, occupant protection and vulnerable road users.

*Safe System Solutions: 'Myth: 100km/h is the right default speed limit outside built-up areas(external link)'

When driving at 80km/h:

  • You have 20 per cent more time to react to situations and make better decisions.
  • Your stopping distance is 30 per cent shorter (69m down from 98m).
  • Your chance of surviving a crash is 75 per cent, at 100km/h it is 10 per cent.

Many 100km/h roads in Canterbury have evolved over time and are carrying larger volumes of traffic than ever before. They were not designed as high-speed roads. In many places winding, hilly, lined with trees, poles and ditches, they are largely unsuited to high-speed travel.

On SH75, high-risk 100km/h sections where crashes are increasing* will reduce to 80km/h. These sections have no physical separation of traffic travelling in opposite directions, plus roadside conditions and narrow shoulders mean there’s little margin for error if a simple mistake is made. It is not safe or appropriate for these sections of SH75 to have the same speed limit as the Christchurch Southern Motorway or Christchurch Northern Corridor. Speed limits need to reflect the type of road and their environment.

SH73, 75 and 74 - Christchurch to Akaroa and Lyttelton speed review crash causes [PDF, 2 MB]

What impact will the speed limit changes have on travel times?

The new permanent speed limits prioritise people’s safety. Furthermore, we’re anticipating the impact on travel time will be small – an estimated 3.5 - 5.5 minutes between Christchurch and Akaroa.

We also need to think about the full economic impacts of speed such as crash costs, Green House Gas emissions, fuel costs and vehicle maintenance. Furthermore, studies show that in High Income Countries (HICs) economically optimal travel speeds are lower than expected and typically lower than the posted speed limits.

Economic analysis of safer speeds on rural highways [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Source: Job, RFS. & Mbugua, LW. (2020). Road Crash Trauma, Climate Change, Pollution and the Total Costs of Speed: Six graphs that tell the story(external link)

Lower speeds add minutes, save lives and carbon – expert(external link) (source: stuff.co.nz, 29 September 2022)

Why has your travel time estimate changed?

Our analysis last year found (based on existing data and modelling from our risk assessment tool, Mega Maps) that overall, the travel time between Christchurch and Akaroa was expected to increase from 71.1 minutes to 77.2 minutes, an approximate increase of around 6 minutes*.

Nationally, we have recently established a more accurate method for estimating travel times which draws on data from a number of actual, recent speed limit changes in New Zealand. Using this model, we can now refine the estimated average travel time increase at between 3.5 and 5.5 minutes.

Keep in mind, this increase is indicative only. There are many variables, such as vehicle type, driver experience, weather and traffic conditions, time of day and week etc. It is not possible to predict exactly, only to give an approximate indication.

Why did you decide on 60km/h at Takamatua Straight when you consulted on 60km/h and 80km/h?

We asked for more feedback from people about Takamatua Straight, to help us with our final decision because our technical evidence determined both speed limits were safe – 60km/h or 80km/h.

We decided 60km/h was the appropriate speed limit because it meets people’s requests for consistent speeds and will reduce the risk of near-misses people are telling us are happening at the intersection of Takamatua Valley Road with SH75 and pedestrians and cyclists being in the area. It also more closely aligns with the 40km/h limit proposed by Christchurch City Council for the side roads at Takamatua settlement.

Why didn’t you extend the threshold at Tai Tapu to include the corner near Golf Links Road?

Our technical team considered this request but the road environment north of Golf Links Rd is rural, therefore it doesn’t have the urban environment feel that’s needed for a 50km/h limit. It’s also 1km from Tai Tapu township which is too far to extend the 50km/h limit without the construction of speed-reducing infrastructure such as flush median, which is not feasible in this narrow corridor.

Nevertheless, we do acknowledge the risk to residents entering and exiting their driveways so for 12 months after the new 80km/h limit is in place we will monitor people’s speeds through this area. The new 80km/h speed limit will be an improvement providing people more time to assess when it is safe

We will also look at additional treatments such as repeater signs and extra warning signs to address residents’ concerns in the short term.

What other safety improvements does Waka Kotahi have planned for SH73/75?

There was a keen desire from stakeholders and the community to see other safety improvements on roads from Christchurch to Akaroa, not just speed reductions.

Reducing speeds and speed management is just one of the tools we are using to significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries.

A safe transport system recognises people make mistakes and is designed so these mistakes don’t cost us our lives. Safer speed on our roads is one part of creating a safe system, and right now, ensuring speed limits are appropriate for this road environment is the quickest and most effective way we can save lives. But we know there are other changes people want to see.

To reach our Road to Zero target, Waka Kotahi has five focus areas, including infrastructure and speed, vehicle safety, work-related road safety, road user choices and system management.

On SH73/75, we have begun a three-year programme of renewing nearly 30km of road surface.

To support the new safe speeds, we will be adding some new signage, improving existing signage as well as painting new and enhancing existing line markings on the highway, which all helps to create a safer road environment.

In the next couple of years, guardrail side protection to help prevent run-off road crashes will be installed at some high-risk locations along The Hilltop where there are steep drop-offs, and the highway is particularly windy. The scope and extent of this work is being investigated and will be subject to constructability, funding and confirming an appropriate mix of treatments (rumble strips and line marking).

In addition, a range of safety and resilience improvements along SH75, at locations mostly between Cooptown and Duvauchelle, have been identified and are in the pipeline. These could include installation of rumble strips and more guardrail along The Hilltop as well as opportunities for safe passing. This work is subject to feasibility, timing, and funding approvals.

We are also looking into the feasibility of a shared use path for people walking and cycling between Little River and Cooptown.

Once the road safety improvements are made, will the speed limit go back up to 100km/h?

No. The safer speeds on open roads also support global recommendations for speed limits of no more than 80km/h on non-divided rural roads, to help ensure that even when crashes do happen, nobody needs to die or be seriously injured as a result.

How is Waka Kotahi improving the road surface to make SH75 safer?

We’re continuing our maintenance programme on SH73/75 with nearly 30km of road surfacing underway between Christchurch and Akaroa. This amounts to more than a third of the road to be resealed over the next three years - the highest in Canterbury.

We also invest in maintenance activities along this route such as environmental and drainage work (subject to funding).

Our annual road maintenance budget for the Canterbury state highway network is around $45m for the current year. This includes road maintenance, operational costs, and renewals. This work covers re-marking lines, repairing signs, to fixing failed sections of road, clearing drains and maintaining vegetation for visibility and fire hazards, through to resurfacing, drainage improvements and reconstructing the road.

How many crashes have happened on SH73/75 between Christchurch and Akaroa and what caused them?

Between 2011-2020 there were 739 crashes on SH73/75. Nine people were killed and 72 people were seriously injured, many facing a lengthy rehabilitation.

The causes of a crash do not change the fact that speed is the single biggest factor that determines if a person is killed in or survives a crash.

For example, driving at 80km/h your chance of surviving a crash is 75 per cent, at 100km/h it is 10 per cent. On SH73/75 we are seeing increasing crashes in the 100km/h zones.

If we are aiming for a future where no-one is killed or seriously injured in road crashes and change how we think about transport our transport system, it helps to understand the situation on this road currently.

As a result of engagement earlier this year we prepared a resource to help people understand the types of crashes people are having from Christchurch to Akaroa.

The key trends are:

  • Loss of control crashes on straights and bends along with rear end crashes are the most common types of crashes on this corridor. These are often attributed to speed and can be mitigated with speed reduction and safety improvements to the road.
  • Inappropriate speed is within the top five contributing factors for crashes on this corridor.
  • Rear end crashes are high but mostly occurring in low-speed environments, hence the low severity of the crashes (mostly minor and non-injury crashes).
  • Most crashes, particularly fatal and serious crashes, are primarily occurring in higher speed environments.

We also developed some maps which show locations of crashes, the types of vehicles involved and the severity of crashes for the past ten years. Contrary to a common-held belief, very few crashes have involved buses. You can also see a map showing the sign posted speed limits and another showing the average speeds vehicles are travelling, which are interesting to compare. 

SH73/SH75 and SH74 Christchurch to Akaroa and Lyttelton speed review - understanding crash causes and speed [PDF, 2 MB]

The Crash Analysis System (CAS) open data portal(external link) has further information on individual crashes.

Speed in the context of New Zealand

Will you action any of the issues raised by the public during consultation?

We are always looking for ways to improve the safety of our roads. The submissions have been passed onto the relevant Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency staff who will look into opportunities suggested by the public to improve the safety of this route. 

What about passing lanes?

As referred to above, funding for more significant highway safety infrastructure improvements (such as median safety barrier and safety rails) comes under the Speed and Infrastructure Programme (SIP).  As part of our speed programme we are able to make some minor road infrastructure improvements, such as upgrading road shoulders, signs and lines, which can help to create a safer speed environment.

It could be that passing opportunities are considered in future, however given the relatively low traffic volume on SH75 compared with other highways, the likelihood of funding being secured is low. Nevertheless, we have passed on the feedback from the community about passing lanes to the SIP team.

It’s worth noting that if the proposed lower speeds are in place on SH75, most traffic on the road - including cars towing boats, caravans and horse floats – will be more likely to be traveling the average speed, so drivers will feel less need to overtake.

Will the change to 60km/h on Takamatua Straight cause unsafe passing?

We are aware of drivers passing often in excess of the speed limit, where there is no need to pass other than the desire to be in front of the vehicle in front.

We remind drivers that before passing, always ask yourself, ‘Is it really necessary to pass?’ and don’t pass just because you are feeling impatient with the vehicle in front. If you do need to pass, take extra care, and leave extra room when passing people on bikes or walking as the wind gust from your vehicle could affect their balance. As mentioned above, if the proposed lower speeds are in place on SH75, most traffic on the road - including cars towing boats, caravans and horse floats – will be more likely to be traveling the average speed, so drivers will feel less need to overtake.

What about the bus lanes planned for Halswell Road – were these considered in the speed review? 

Waka Kotahi has plans to provide bus lanes to increase bus reliability and improve bus journey times along SH75 Halswell Road between Dunbars and Curletts Roads.

Once the bus lane improvements to Halswell Road have been constructed, and an appropriate period of time has passed for people to get used to the changes, we will revisit this section of Halswell Road to check speed limits are still appropriate.

SH75 Halswell Road improvements

Won’t slowing vehicles down have a significant economic impact and cost?

Crashes and other speed-related incidents create delays and stoppages, affecting freight timetables and the reliability of travel schedules. Businesses that rely on the roads as an efficient part of their operation will benefit from safety improvements, including safer speeds. An unsafe highway network cannot be an efficient one.

The average social cost of one fatal road crash in New Zealand is $5.37 million, with the average cost of a serious injury crash estimated at just over $1 million.

At current casualty rates of over 300 deaths and more than 2,000 serious injuries per year, the annual social cost of road crashes to New Zealand is nearly $5 billion.

According to Australian research*, lower speed limits have benefits for commercial operation, such as lower fuel and maintenance costs and reduced frequency of crashes, which lead to lower insurance premiums and less lost time.

*Safe System Solutions: Myth: 100km/h is the right default speed limit outside built-up areas(external link)

Economic analysis of safer speeds on rural highways [PDF, 1.6 MB]