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New Zealand Roads (Waterview Connection)

Waterview Connection 2016 Update
The Waterview Connection Project

We all rely on roads. Imagine life without well maintained roads.

There are many reasons why you need to travel:

  • going to and from school or work
  • for fun and leisure
  • for taking goods from one place to another.

You can choose to:

  • walk
  • cycle
  • use a motorcycle or car
  • use buses and trains
  • travel by plane.

Wherever you are going it is likely you will travel on one of New Zealand’s many roads.

Good roads are an important part of a modern society. Our communities work better when it is easy for people to travel and when goods and services can be easily exchanged.

Roads are a community space. We ‘meet’ people on the roads at traffic lights, on the motorway and at roundabouts. Most of our interactions on the road help keep us safe as we travel.

History of roads

Many roads started out as just tracks that people used to get from place to place.

The more popular tracks were used by people with their horses and other animals and soon became larger.

In New Zealand many of our roads were once Māori ara or pathways.

What is a road?

A road can be used for different purposes;

  • footpaths are for pedestrians
  • bridleways (or bridle paths) are for animals
  • carriageways are for wheeled vehicles

Types of roads in New Zealand

There are two types of roads in New Zealand;

State Highways

State highways are roads with a national purpose. They are used to move people and goods nationwide.

State Highway 1 runs and connects the entire length of New Zealand. State highways are managed by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

The state highway network has almost 11,000 kilometres of road. New Zealand’s state highway network is one of our most valuable assets. It is worth $23 billion. About $2.2 billion is spent each year on maintaining these roads.

Local roads

Local roads are used to move people and goods within regions. They are managed by local councils.

There are 83,000 kilometres of local roads throughout New Zealand. Compared to other countries New Zealand has few people spread over a large area.  The length of road per person in New Zealand is one of the highest in the world. 

Better roads can improve safety and save time and money. The development of roads is important for economic growth.

Improving roads

One important road project is the Western Ring Route, a 47km motorway that will skirt around the centre of Auckland. Construction started in 2012 and will be finished in 2017. Building the Waterview Connection will finish the Western Ring Route. The hardest part of this project is to build two 2.4km long, 13m wide tunnels below Avondale and Waterview. One tunnel will be for traffic travelling north, while the other tunnel will be for traffic travelling south.

Ready for a quiz?


Audio Māori keywords: 

Choose a road in your local area and find out about its history.

State Highway 1 runs the length of this country. This is part of State Highway 1 in Auckland. Image: Public Domain.

Local roads are maintained by councils not NZTA. This is a local road in Dunedin. Image: Public Domain.

Not all roads are of an equal standard. This is a gravel road in the McKenzie Country. Image: Public Domain.

Waterview Connection 2016 Update
The Waterview Connection Project