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, to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on this road.

  • Estimated project dates

    Jun 2022–Dec 2023
  • Estimated project cost

    $1 million
  • Project type

    Road improvements
  • Project status


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SH30 needs to be made safer.

Every day people make mistakes on this road and there are things we can do to make it safer.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is committed to Vision Zero, a vision for Aotearoa New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads.

This stretch of State Highway 30 (SH30) between Awakeri and Whakatane has been identified for prioritised investment in proven safety improvements and safer speeds as part of Road to Zero.

We want to make this road safer so everyone can get where they are going safely.


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.

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

The safety improvements we’re proposing and sought feedback on include new roundabouts, safety barriers, and seal widening, and are part of our commitment to Road to Zero, to save lives and prevent people from being seriously injured.

What's happening

Waka Kotahi has 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 need feedback on what we’re considering from people who use the road.

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.

Following concerns raised through early discussions, we included a separate design for a roundabout at Mill Road for feedback.

Once we complete detailed design later in 2023, we’ll apply for construction funding from the National Land Transport Fund 2024-2027.

What we have heard

This road is important to the local and rural community. Key topics covered during our conversations include:

Diverse use

  • The road is used frequently by farmers and contractors on wide and other 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, including passing slow moving wide machinery.
  • 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.
  • Thornton Road intersection is dangerous and a roundabout would be welcomed.
  • The Shaw Road intersection is dangerous, the speed limit is too fast and this will worsen as future growth occurs.
  • Other intersections – there are concerns 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.

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.

Once the design is finalised, we will provide an update on how the feedback was considered and what changes have been made.

What about speed?

We expect to make an announcement on the speed review mid 2023, with safer speeds in place soon after.

Safer speed limits are something we can do now to improve safety, as the physical safety improvements will take some time to build.

SH30 Tikitere to Whakatāne speed review

Together, safety improvements in speed and infrastructure will save lives and reduce the number of people seriously injured. Combined, they are an important part of Road to Zero, Aotearoa New Zealand’s road safety strategy.

Speed affects both the likelihood of a crash, and the severity of it. Even when speed doesn’t cause a crash, it’s what will most likely determine whether anyone is killed or injured, or walks away unharmed.

Once the safety improvements are completed on SH30, there will be an opportunity to reassess the safe and appropriate speed limits.

Making the road safer

We’ve looked at the types and causes of crashes on SH30 and identified improvements that puts the safety of people first.

The proposed improvements mean people will have to change the way they use the road in the future, but they will save lives and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on this road.

What we can do now:

  • Safer speed limits – a small change in speed can make a big difference to the outcome of a crash. The outcome of the SH30 Tikitere to Whakatāne speed review is expected to be announced in mid 2023 and safer speeds in place soon after.

What we’re proposing for further investigation and feedback:

  • 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 for people to turn on and off the state highway and provide a turnaround function to support the median barrier. 

When flexible safety barriers are installed along the centre of the road, they prevent head-on crashes and can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in crashes by 65 percent.

To achieve the greatest safety benefit for the flexible median safety barriers, we need to have as few gaps as possible. This means people accessing the highway from a private access or side road may only be able to turn left unless a safe turnaround area has been provided.

Along this stretch, we are proposing three roundabouts to provide safe turnaround areas and to slow traffic through busy intersections.

We have also included a design for a roundabout at the intersection of SH30 and Mill Road, following feedback from stakeholders and road users.

Roundabouts make a big difference to safety at intersections. They would also give drivers a safe place to turnaround if the flexible median barrier is installed.

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
Detailed design completed. Apply for construction funding from National Land Transport Programme 2024-2027  Late 2023
Construction funding confirmed Mid-late 2024
Construction begins – if funding confirmed Late 2024