Why did you have to set new speed limits?

There were several safety issues with the highway in this location, these had also been raised by the community. They included:

  • Driver behaviour, including speeding and dangerous overtaking
  • More Police enforcement
  • Visiting drivers with little or no experience of driving in the sort of alpine road conditions encountered on this highway
  • Lack of safe passing opportunities
  • The number of heavy vehicles such as trucks and tour buses using this route

A small change in speed makes a big difference, especially when cyclists or pedestrians are involved. Most crashes are caused by a variety of contributing factors. Even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it is most likely to determine if anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed.

What is the new permanent speed limit?

The following new speed limits are effective from Wednesday, 11 August.2021.

Location Current speed limit New speed limit
1km of highway east of the Homer Tunnel to the eastern tunnel entrance, through the Homer Tunnel (1.7km) and 2km of highway west of the Homer Tunnel to the western tunnel entrance. 100km/h 30–60km/h* variable speed limit
From the where the variable speed limit ends on the western approach to the Homer Tunnel for 14km to Milford Sound. 80/100km/h 80km/h
A 500m section of SH94 from Milford Sound to east of Deep Water Basin Road. 80km/h 30km/h

*The variable speed limit will be used to safely manage highway issues including weather and rockfall events and vehicle crashes. Variable speed limit operating options being 30/40/60km/h.

Note: The above new permanent highway speed limits applying are the same as those Waka Kotahi consulted on between November and December 2019.

How were those limits decided?

The speed review process involves numerous steps that help determine the speed limits we propose at consultation.

The first step involves completing a technical assessment. This looks at the road environment, traffic volumes, the crash history, and how people are currently travelling on this road.

Following the technical assessment, we carry out informal engagement with the local community, road user groups, members of the public, councils, AA, road transport association, and the Police. Engagement feedback helps to determine if and what we formally consult on for proposed speed limit changes.

During consultation we ask the community and road users for submissions on any external factors, we may need to be aware of. Speed review consultation runs for four weeks. Once consultation closes submissions are analysed and our technical assessment reviewed.

The consultation for the proposed speed limit change is not a vote, it is about seeking valuable local and community input so that we can consider wider factors and context into our decisions.

For more information about how we reached these decisions, please read our consultation summary report.

Consultation summary report [PDF, 1.8 MB]
Speed review process

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 their communities. We also need to adhere to the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the RCAs for reviewing and setting speed limits. 

The Speed Management Guide is available to read here: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/Safety/docs/speed-management-resources/speed-management-guide-first-edition-201611.pdf and the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017 can be found here: https://nzta.govt.nz/resources/rules/setting-of-speed-limits-2017

Speed Management Guide [PDF, 7.4 MB]
Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017

When does new speed limit change come into effect and how are the public being notified?

The new speed limit takes effect on Wednesday, 11 August 2021.

The public will be notified of the new permanent speed limit through the newspaper, on the Waka Kotahi website.

Won’t the new lower speed limits mean the trip will take a lot longer?

We expect these lower speed limits will have minimal impact on most people’s travel times on what is largely a steep, winding and narrow section of highway.  

Did you consult with the public on these changes?

Yes, during November–December 2019 we consulted with the local community and public on this proposed permanent speed limit. We received 47 submissions. You can read our consultation summary and view the submissions.

Consultation summary report [PDF, 1.8 MB]
Consultation submissions [PDF, 2.7 MB]