SH23, SH31 and SH39 West Waikato speed review

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Project introduction

We want to make your roads safer for everyone who uses them. There’s been a significant number of crashes on SH23, SH31 and SH39, in the west Waikato. We want to make sure that speeds are safe and appropriate on these roads, so Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is reviewing the current speed limits.

  • Project type

    Speed review

Project updates

Speed limit consultation

Between October and November 2020 we engaged with local communities, mana whenua, key stakeholders, councils and road user industry groups about the current speed limits on State Highways 23, 31 and 39 in west Waikato.

From 14 November to 12 December 2022, we consulted on proposed changes to speed limits along various parts of these state highways, as part of an Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan. We’re considering feedback from this consultation alongside existing information to finalise the interim plan, and will share an update in early 2023.

Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan

What we know 

  • Between 2009-2018, there were 17 fatalities and 104 people seriously injured as a result of crashes on the highways under consideration in this speed review. While crashes are caused by a number of contributing factors, even when speed isn’t the main cause of the crash, it is most likely to determine whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed.
  • The West Waikato state highway network is used for moving freight between regions, agribusiness, commuting, tourism and local residents. This mix of road users are not always complementary and can lead towards safety issues for everyone using the road.
  • For many this part of the state highway network is the ‘street’ they live on and the place they call home. Petitions relating to speed limits being too high have been received by Waka Kotahi for some of the towns in this area.
  • SH31 out to Kawhia is a particularly winding road, with numerous roadside hazards along the route such as large trees and steep drop-offs.
  • The Waikato and Waipa District Councils have either lowered or are in the process of lowering speed limits on a number of local roads connected to the state highway network. Otorohanga District Council is proposing making similar changes to their local road network and are also engaging with their community at the same time as Waka Kotahi is engaging on speed reviews on the state highways.
  • Our priority is to make this state highway network safer as soon as possible so that everyone living on and using it can get where they are going safely.

The following table outlines the number of crashes, deaths and serious injuries sustained across the three state highways during the ten-year period (2009-2018). 

Along with the devastating effect on families and communities, crashes on this route can cause extensive delays and long detours if there are road closures.

Road Crashes Deaths Serious injuries
SH23 381 4 52
SH31 173 3 22
SH39 328 10 30

Speed limits on these state highways are as high as 100km/h, but the average speeds are much lower as shown in the following table.

 Location  Current speed limit (km/h)  Average speed (km/h)
SH23 - Hamilton West (Dinsdale) to Whatawhata 100 82
SH23 - Whatawhata 80 77
SH23 - Whatawhata to Four Brothers Reserve 100 82
SH23 - Four Brothers Reserve to east of Cogswell Road 100 75
SH23 - East of Cogswell Road to Te Uku 100 77
SH23 - Te Uku 80 82
SH23 - Te Uku to 400m east of Greenslade Road 100 85
SH23 - 400m east of Greenslade Road to Manukau Road 100 72
SH31 - Otorohanga to the SH31/SH39 junction 100 80
SH31 - SH31/SH39 junction to Te Kauri Stream bridge 100 80
SH31 - Te Kauri Stream bridge to 2km east of Harbour Road 100 65
SH31 - 2km east of Harbour Road to Kawhia 100 72
SH39 - Te Kowhai to Whatawhata 100 82
SH39 - Whatawhata 70/80 60
SH39 - Whatawhata to Ngahinapouri 100 87
SH39 - Ngahinapouri 70 77
SH39 - Ngahinapouri to Pirongia 100 87
SH39 - Pirongia South 70 62
SH39 - Pirongia South to the SH31/SH39 junction 100 87

Project area

How speed reviews work

More information about the speed review process