Speed limit change – Hangatiki and Waitomo

The Transport Agency has completed a review of speed limits on SH3 and SH37 at Hangatiki and Waitomo. The consultation responses and evidence supported the proposal and an 80km/h speed limit has been approved for:

  • SH3 – from 500m north of the intersection with SH37 to 500m south of the intersection with SH37
  • SH37 – from the intersection with SH3 for the entire length of SH37 finishing at the 50km/h speed limit 160m east of Waitomo Valley Road.

The speed limit will change on Wednesday 28 September 2016.

The aim of speed limit proposal is to reduce deaths and serious injuries along this popular tourist route by making it safer. The proposal complements the recently completed SH3/37 roundabout and physical safety improvement work along SH37.


SH3 - SH37 to Waitomo caves - proposed speed limit changesDownload the map [PDF, 427 KB]

The aim of this proposal is to reduce deaths and serious injuries along a heavily trafficked route which is popular with visitors. A significant number of these drivers may be unfamiliar with New Zealand driving conditions, and a number of campervan and slower vehicles also use the route and intersection. Not all risks on roads are visible to drivers and often roads are not easy to read. Lowering travelling speeds is one way to reduce risk.

This aim is expected to be achieved with two approaches that complement each other:

  1. Reducing the speed limit from the current open road 100km/h limit to an 80km/h speed limit, and 
  2. Physical measures either completed or underway including: the recently constructed roundabout at the intersection of SH3 and SH37; and a range of safety improvements now under construction along the SH37 corridor including roadside barriers, signs and markings, shoulder widening and other improvements.

SH3 supporting information

  • The intersection has a lot of traffic, much of which is visitors who may be unfamiliar with the roads, with some driving slower vehicles such as campervans, which they may be unused to driving
  • The lower proposed speed limit will help maintain lower speeds on the approach to and through the newly constructed roundabout. 
  • The proposed 80km/h speed limit is consistent with speed limits at other rural roundabouts in New Zealand, and with the proposed speed limit recommendation for SH37
  • Speed surveys taken along the route show good compliance with the lower proposed speed limit

SH37 supporting information

  • Injury crash rates are higher than predicted for the volumes of traffic and road infrastructure
  • Based on a Safe System(external link) approach a reduction in speed would significantly help reduce deaths and serious injuries along this route because the likelihood of a loss of control crash is reduced and the severity of impact is lower if a crash does occur
  • The route has challenging topography including curves which naturally limit driver speeds
  • The route is a highly trafficked highway with visitors who may be unfamiliar with the roads and some may be driving slower vehicles which they may unused to driving
  • Speed data shows traffic is typically travelling under the current 100km/h speed limit, confirming a higher limit is less appropriate in this area.