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Grass “greener” for Auckland’s innovative motorway alliance


Little more than the flick of a finger is now needed to help keep 240 kilometres of Auckland’s motorway network neat and tidy thanks to an inventive maintenance solution introduced by the NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland’s Motorway Alliance (AMA).

The Motorway Alliance maintenance team now includes a large yellow motor mower known as a Spider that is operated by remote control.

“We have approximately 173 hectares of grass alongside our motorways - including several steep and difficult to reach slopes – and a remote controlled mower is the perfect answer to a potentially risky and time-consuming job,” says the AMA’s Director, Tony Fisher.

“The Spider Mower is designed to maintain uneven and inaccessible terrain with steep slopes of up to 40 degrees, an angle at which we would not easily be able to put our tractor mowers on safely.”

The 335kg Spider Mower has been imported from the Czech Republic in central Europe.   It is powered by a 25hp petrol engine, has a top speed of 8kph, can scale a 41degree slope, and has a cutting width of 1200mm – roughly 3 times wider than a family rotary mower.

“With its two person team to control it, the machine has shown that it can complete two days of mowing in five hours. As our network gets longer, the mower will help maintenance teams keep pace with that growth to ensure the city’s motorways keep looking good,” Mr Fisher says.

Maintenance is an important environmental task for the AMA that has additional benefits beyond making the motorways attractive places to drive on.  The mower’s grass cutting duties will help reduce the risk of fire and the spread of rodents and other pests which make their home among weeds and long grass growing in difficult to reach places beside the network.   

Mr Fisher says the new machine is going through extensive trials. 

“As with any new addition of machinery within our motorway corridor that is visible to drivers, it will take some time for people to become familiar with its presence, and we ask drivers to stay focused on the highway ahead at all times while driving,” says Mr Fisher.