At a glance

This is an infographic showing statistics for the region of Murihiku Southland. It includes information about the population in 2018, projected population in 2048, Māori population and percentage of overall regional population in 2018, a list of iwi and h

Arataki Murihiku – Southland regional direction [PDF, 12 MB]

Arataki Murihiku – Southland statistics table - infographic alternative [PDF, 111 KB]

The September 2023 v1.1 release of Arataki includes updates to reflect the severe weather events of 2023 and make minor corrections.

Murihiku Southland is the southern-most region of Aotearoa New Zealand with just over 97,000 residents. As the largest urban centre, Waihōpai Invercargill provides most core services for the wider region, including the main hospital and tertiary education.

Low population growth is projected for the whole region up to 2043. There’s unlikely to be pressure on urban development in Waihōpai or the wider Murihiku region.

The region relies heavily on its extensive road networks to support rural production and tourist movement around the region.

There is good capacity on the existing network and opportunities for increased rail freight. In some areas, ageing infrastructure, especially bridges, may impact network efficiency and reliability.

The region will be increasingly affected by flooding and erosion along coastal roads and low-lying areas around Motupōhue Bluff. Inland routes, including the road to Piopiotahi Milford Sound, will be affected by extreme weather events like increased rainfall and rockfall from reduced snow falls. There are also significant natural hazards risks, such as the Alpine Fault.

There is a high reliance on private vehicles for most travel needs across the region. There is a significant opportunity to build on below average rates of walking and cycling in Waihōpai, supported by ongoing investment in safe and attractive facilities. Active modes are likely to be the primary way to reduce vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT). Increasing the share of freight moved by rail and coastal shipping will also have an important role to play in reducing emissions.

Other critical transport challenges facing the region over the next three decades include safety, resilience, and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

Focusing our efforts 

For efficient and effective progress, transport challenges in the region must be tackled in a cohesive way. The directions below identify the most important issues to be resolved over the next 10 years to make progress towards transport outcomes.

  • Begin to reduce vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT), focusing on Waihōpai Invercargill, in a way that’s fair, equitable, and improves quality of life.
  • Enable and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Maintain and improve the resilience and efficiency of interregional connections to the north and south.
  • Improve access to social and economic opportunities, especially by public transport, walking, and cycling.
  • Significantly reduce the harm caused by the transport system, especially through improved road safety and reduced pollutants dangerous to health.
  • Support, enable, and encourage growth and development in areas that already have good travel choices and shorter average trip lengths.
  • Rapidly accelerate the delivery of walking and cycling networks, predominantly through reshaping existing streets, to make these options safe and attractive.
  • Explore the potential for new and emerging technologies, such as on-demand services, to improve access to social and economic opportunities.
  • Better understand the impact of future economic transformation on travel patterns and freight volumes.
  • Explore opportunities to move to a more multimodal freight system with greater use of rail and coastal shipping.
  • Continue involvement in the Milford Opportunities Project to encourage resilience, tourism, safety, and mode shift for the Milford corridor, and surrounding region.
  • Confirm how resilience risks will be addressed over time, and work with communities to plan for when to defend, accommodate, or retreat.
  • Continue to implement road safety plans and programmes including those focused for iwi Māori.
  • Improve or maintain, as appropriate, physical access to marae, papakāinga wāhi tapu, and wāhi taonga.

These will be updated over time to focus effort on the most critical matters.

Arataki Murihiku – Southland regional direction [PDF, 12 MB]