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Project introduction

The Nelson Future Access Project is the investigation of a future-proofed transport system considering the needs of all users travelling within Nelson.

Engagement report now available

Nelson residents had the opportunity to help plan a vibrant city by having a say in their future transport network. Read the engagement report, as well as the original brochure outlining three long-term options, and then go to our interactive site to view what people had to say.

We thank all those who provided their feedback.

Engagement report
View brochure
View online feedback


  • Project type

    Road improvements
  • Project status


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To develop a detailed investment programme for a multi-modal transport system that supports community aspirations for a thriving CBD; a world-class waterfront; and a safe, accessible and resilient transport system that will meet the diverse needs of customers and communities. In particular, the programme should seek to:

  • Identify customer needs and growth pressures in the study area.
  • Define the existing and future function of key transport corridors (for all modes) in the study area.
  • To deliver a safe, accessible and resilient network that recognises Nelson City Council’s goals, the needs of customers and the wider community.
  • Make best use of existing infrastructure and services as well as new/emerging technologies.
  • Ensure integration of land use and transport systems to reduce the dependency on private single occupancy motor vehicles.
  • Investigate and identify a package of measures that could be progressed on SH6 Rocks Road to enhance walking and cycling and supporting Nelson City Council’s vision for a world class waterfront.
  • Investigate and make recommendations in respect of the key journeys between Nelson City’s CBD, Waterfront, Airport, Port and Richmond. To resolve long-standing uncertainty about the Nelson Southern Link, it will include the need and potential timing for an alternative arterial route to Rocks Road and Waimea Road.


The concept of improving access through Nelson has a long history, and over the past 30 years there have been many suggestions for improving travel in Nelson. Some state highway improvements have already been made – including the construction of QEII Drive to the north and Whakatu Drive to the south.

Ensuring an efficient and reliable transport network is not only vital to Nelson’s export-led economy, but to improving community access to Nelson’s environment and amenities.

The most recent pieces of work include the application for a Southern Link Road in 2000 and 2004, the North Nelson to Brightwater Corridor Strategic Study in 2007 and the Nelson Arterial Traffic Study in 2010–2011.

In 2014 the Government asked us to investigate the Nelson Southern Link route as part of its Accelerated Regional Roading Package(external link) for state highways. The package identified regionally important projects that would address economic efficiency, safety and resilience issues.

All this past work has provided a valuable basis for the current investigation, which will help develop transport proposals to provide for Nelson’s current and future transport needs. The state highway is crucial for primary industry and export trade growth in the region, particularly as there is no regional rail network to use as an alternative transport solution.

The Nelson Southern Link Investment Programme Business Case (including Rocks Road Walking and Cycling options) was adopted by the NZ Transport Agency in June 2017, and the 2018–21 National Land Transport Programme includes funding allocation to enable the investigations, including a detailed business case, over the next three years.

The specific project area is bounded by SH6 to the north and east, Rutherford Road/Waimea Road to the south and extending as far south as the Annesbrook Drive roundabout.  However, there is a far bigger area of influence for this project, extending beyond Richmond to the south and west, and Atawhai to the north.


In April 2019, the Transport Agency appointed engineering consultancy AECOM to produce a detailed business case for the Nelson Future Access project, which will kick-start the next phase of work. The programme scope includes fast-tracking work to identify whether any walking and cycling enhancements can be delivered within the Rocks Road area in the short to medium term.

Wider investigations will be completed before the end of 2020 to inform the 2021–24 Regional and National Land Transport Programmes.