Project introduction

State Highway 30 between Awakeri and Whakatāne has been identified as a high-risk rural road. We’re looking at options to make it safer and therefore more efficient.

  • Estimated project dates

    Jun 2022–Dec 2023
  • Estimated project cost

    $1 million
  • Project type

    Road improvements
  • Project status


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As the main transport route between Rotorua, Whakatāne and the East Coast, the road is used by a range of road users including daily commuters, freight, local traffic, cyclists and motorcyclists, tourists, and agricultural machinery.

SH30 is predominantly rural and considered high-volume for a two-lane state highway. It has connections to a network of local roads and direct access to adjoining agricultural properties.

Unfortunately, the number of people being killed or seriously injured in crashes on this section of the state highway is increasing.

Between 2017 and 2021 road crashes killed four people and seriously injured 16 others on SH30 between Awakeri and Whakatāne. Almost half of these deaths and serious injuries were from head-on crashes. From January to December 2022 there was one death and eight serious injuries from six crashes.

Each crash has huge impacts on the people involved, their families, emergency services and the health sector. As well as saving lives and preventing crash trauma, upgrades will result in fewer crashes meaning the highway is more efficient and can support productivity and economic growth in the region.

In 2021, we completed a feasibility study to look at a range of potential improvements for SH30, between the intersection with State Highway 2 (SH2) at Awakeri through to Phoenix Drive in Whakatāne.

The improvements we’re proposing and have sought feedback on included new roundabouts, safety barriers, and seal widening.

  • Purpose

    SH30 needs to be made safer and more efficient.

    Crashes, in particular fatal ones, contribute to road closures, as do flooding and slips as a result of natural events. Road closures negatively impact on the region. There are improvements that could be made to this road to generally improve the network and lessen the number of road closures.

  • Proposals for improving the corridor

    We looked at the types and causes of crashes on SH30 and identified potential improvements that would make the road more efficient and safer.

    This is what we proposed for further investigation and discussion with stakeholders and the community:

    • Flexible median safety barriers to prevent head-on crashes - they are designed to flex when hit, slowing your vehicle and absorbing the impact of the crash.
    • Providing wide road shoulders at regular intervals to allow slow vehicles to pull over, so emergency vehicles can pass easily.
    • Making some side roads and accessways left in and left out only, so people don’t have to cross the busy highway.
    • Upgrading key intersections with roundabouts, to make it safer and more efficient for people to turn on and off the state highway and provide a turnaround function to support the median barrier. Along this stretch, we are proposing three roundabouts.

    A roundabout at the intersection of SH30 and Mill Road has been included, following feedback from stakeholders and road users.

  • What's happening

    Waka Kotahi had funding from the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme to progress site investigations and carry out engagement as part of the detailed design process.

    Detailed design is where we look at how the road is used and carry out technical investigations like geotechnical site investigations and topographical surveys. As part of this, and to make sure we get the designs right, we also sought  feedback on what we’re considering from people who use the road (see below).

    Construction funding needs to be sought as part of the 2024 - 2027 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) process. The NLTP sets out the activities that can receive funding from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) and other funding sources, and gives effect to the Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS). We expect the NLTP to be adopted later in 2024.

  • Project timeline
    Key milestones Timing
    Feasibility study Completed early 2022
    Detailed design funding application and approval Completed June 2022
    Ngāti Awa, council, landowner and community consultation on the proposed safety improvements. August 2022 to mid 2023
    Public information sessions Early 2023
    Speed review outcome Mid 2023
    Completed detailed design. Apply for construction funding from National Land Transport Programme 2024-2027  2024
    Construction funding outcomes known Late 2024

Community feedback

  • Community and stakeholder responses

    From September 2022 to mid 2023  we focussed on getting feedback from iwi and hapū representatives, Whakatāne District Council staff, landowners, businesses, emergency services and other key stakeholders.

    In early 2023 we engaged with the wider community, to seek feedback before we finish the detailed design process.

  • Public information sessions

    We held four public information sessions in late March 2023, to hear from other people in the community – those who regularly use the highway, who live nearby, or have interests in the area – to understand how the road is currently used.

    We wanted to hear what you thought and if there were any changes we could consider as part of the detailed design process.

  • What we heard

    This road is important to the local and rural community. Key themes emerging during our many conversations included:

    Diverse use

    • The road is used frequently by farmers and contractors on agricultural vehicles, moving stock across the road between blocks of property. Other road users want to be able to pass these vehicles or activities safely.
    • Emergency service vehicles should be able to pass other vehicles with no delay.
    • Other users include school buses, delivery vehicles, residents, longer distance travellers, commuters, retirees, parents taking school children to/from school or bus stops, and other service providers and delivery vehicles etc.
    • People on bikes want to be able to safely use and cross the road.


    • The SH30/Mill Road intersection is used by a range of vehicle types including many heavy vehicles. It’s considered the most dangerous intersection by both users and those driving past. There was considerable support for the roundabout design once it was introduced.
    • People consider Thornton Road intersection as dangerous and a roundabout would be welcomed.
    • The Shaw Road intersection is also considered dangerous by many who also say the speed limit is too fast and this will worsen as future growth occurs.
    • Other intersections – people were concerned about roads identified as left in, left out (ie Angle, Luxton, Paroa, Huna roads), increased travel on local roads, access for cyclists and longer distances/time to travel.

    Flexible median barriers

    • The feedback on the flexible median barrier was mostly unsupportive. There was a desire to consider wider corridor with wide centre lines and lower speed limits first before installing median barriers.


    • Most comments about speed were supportive of lower speed limits – 80km/h.
    • The priority for lower speed limits were from Whakatāne through to Kope Drain first, particularly past Mill and Shaw roads, and to extend lower speed limits past Awakeri School.


    • There was support for wider centre lines to be put in place, increased maintenance on the road, roundabouts in place and lower speed limits to be trialled before going ahead with flexible median barriers.


    • Support for investigating if the Kope Bridge can be widened.
    • People were keen for more gaps, passing lanes and pullover areas.

What about speed?

New permanent speed limits for State Highway 30 Tikitere to Whakatāne were announced in August 2023.

SH30 Tikitere to Whakatāne speed review