Safety improvements and new speed limits for SH1 Taupō Airport to Turangi


New permanent speed limits, a variable speed limit in a school zone and infrastructure improvements are set to improve safety on sections of State Highway 1 between Taupō Airport and Turangi.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has announced the safer speed limits on this road will take effect from 12 October 2020.

Director Regional Relationships Steve Mutton says this route is a high-risk road. Eight people died and 30 people were seriously injured in crashes on this stretch of SH1 in the ten years from 2009-2018.

“Speed is a factor in every crash. We all make mistakes, and we will never eliminate crashes, but speed can be the factor that determines whether you are killed, seriously injured or walk away from a crash unharmed. Mistakes are inevitable, but deaths and serious injuries aren’t.

“Our priority is to make this road safer so everyone using it can get where they are going safely and reliably,” Mr Mutton says.

The current speed limits vary from 100km/h along the rural open road sections to 70km/h through settlements such as Waitahanui and Motuoapa. Some of the current speed limits on this section of state highway are no longer appropriate with the increasing number of vehicles, including heavy vehicles, driving through areas where people live or enjoy popular recreational sites.

Last year, Waka Kotahi conducted public consultation on the safe and appropriate speed limits for this road. The local community, Taupō District Council, Turangi-Tongariro Community Board, Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, NZ Police, Automobile Association, Fire and Emergency NZ and other road user groups were also consulted.

“We thank everyone who provided a submission and feedback on the proposed speed limit changes,” said Mr Mutton.

“In particular, I would like to acknowledge the tamariki of Te Kura o Waitahanui who wrote letters describing their experiences of living adjacent to SH1, and their desire to see the road made safer for them and their community. Together with the community’s insights and our technical review, we have been able to make an informed decision on these speed limit changes.”

As part of the speed limit changes, Waka Kotahi has set a new variable speed limit outside of Te Kura o Waitahanui. A variable speed limit will lower the speed limit from 60 km/h to 40km/h during peak school traffic times. The new variable speed zone will be approximately 350m long with two electronic signs on the road outside the school displaying the reduced speed limit. Variable speed limits are an enforceable speed limit.

“The new variable speed limit will provide a safer road environment around the school, reinforce driver expectations of the likely presence of children, and help encourage safe and active travel to school,” said Mr Mutton.

Waka Kotahi is also investing in further safety improvements including widening the school entrance, improving footpaths and road markings, taking out roadside hazards such as a power pole, replacing school warning signs and making the road safer to cross outside the school. These improvements are scheduled to take place over the summer.

During consultation, it was proposed to reduce the speed limit between Taupō Airport and Waitahanui from 100km/h to 80km/h. Waka Kotahi is currently considering installing a central median barrier from the Taupō Airport roundabout to the northern end of Waitahanui. The speed will remain at 100km/h whilst this is being investigated. If this section of the highway is made safer by installing a safety barrier, it could mean the safe and appropriate speed can remain at 100km/h. Waka Kotahi will continue to update the community and road users about the safety barrier project and the final decision on this speed limit change as we work through the process.

More information on the permanent speed limits and a summary of the consultation, including submissions, can be found at:

Confirmed speed limit changes for State Highway 1 from Taupō Airport through to Turangi

From 12 October 2020, new permanent speed limits will come into effect on SH1 from Waitahanui (south of Taupō) to Turangi:

Confirmed speed limit changes for State Highway 1 from Waitahanui (south of Taupō) to Turangi
Location Current speed limit New speed limit from 12/10/2020

Waitahanui, 1.33km north of Hurae Road to 80m south of Wairau Avenue

The variable speed limit will be displayed on electronic signs located outside the school at 470m north of Hurae Road and 120m north of Hurae Road.


60km/h with variable speed limit of 40km/h

The variable speed limit will lower the speed limit from 60km/h outside the school to 40km/h at peak school traffic times which are:

  • 35 minutes before the start of school until the start of school, and
  • 20 minutes at the end of school, beginning no earlier than five minutes before the end of school
  • it may also operate for 10 minutes at any other time when there is school-related activity.
Hatepe to Halletts Bay, 240m north of Rereahu Avenue to 3.075km south of Rereahu Avenue, Hatepe 100km/h 80km/h
Halletts Bay to Motutere, 3.075km south of Rereahu Avenue, Hatepe to 160m south of Waitapu Road, Motutere 100km/h 60km/h
Motutere to Waitetoko, 160m south of Waitapu Road, Motutere to 130m north of Rawhira Road, Waitetoko 100km/h 80km/h
Waitetoko to Oruatua, 130m north of Rawhira Road, Waitetoko to 170m south of Oruatua Avenue, Te Rangiita 100 / 70 km/h 60km/h
Motuoapa, 140m north of Rangimoana Avenue to 130m south of Parekarangaranga Street, Motuoapa 70 km/h 60km/h
Motuoapa to Turangi, 130m south of Parekarangaranga Street, Motuoapa to 280m south of Waiotaka Road, Turangi 100 km/h 80km/h
Turangi, 230m south of Waiotaka Road to 345m south of Te Arahori Street, Turangi 80 km/h 60km/h

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