Motorists will soon be able to travel up to 110km/h per hour on some of New Zealand's key expressways.

Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe said today higher speed limits would initially be rolled out to the Tauranga Eastern Link, and parts of the Waikato Expressway.

Roads now under construction, including the Kapiti Expressway and the southern section of the Christchurch Motorway, would be considered in future.

The new speed limit would be in effect by the end of the year on roads that met the criteria.

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Macindoe said the Government was focused on making roads safer and cutting travel times.

"With our initial seven Roads of National Significance - with enhanced safety features - either complete or under construction, we can begin rolling out faster speed limits in certain areas," he said.

"This will allow New Zealanders to get to where they need to be faster."

The 110km/h speed limit would only apply to roads built to a standard where the higher limit was safe and appropriate, he said.

"This includes having at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves and no direct access to neighbouring properties.

"Our new Roads of National Significance are our safest - with no fatalities to date.

"This change strikes the right balance between ensuring the safety of road users and faster travel times for our motorists and freight."

It is expected the next generation of significant roads will qualify.

The roads that will be considered include

:

• Waikato Expressway: Longswamp, Rangiriri, Huntly, Hamilton, Cambridge, Ohinewai, Ngaruawahia, Te Rapa, Pokeno to Hampton Downs.
• Tauranga Eastern Link
• Upper Harbour Motorway
• Northern Motorway (Johnstones Hill tunnels to Lonely Track Rd)
• Southern Motorway (Bombay to Takanini)
• Kapiti Expressway (Mackays to Peka Peka)

A police spokesman would not comment specifically about the announcement, but said officers were focused on reducing the harm caused on roads and would continue to enforce set speed limits.

"As always, staff will use their discretion and ensure road users are driving to the conditions,'' he said.

The Automobile Association praised the move, saying it was an indication that New Zealand roads were better - and therefore, safer.

General Manager for motoring affairs, Mike Noon, said: "It's actually very, very good news. What we've got is we've finally got some roads of international standard and are built with a safety standard so that they can run at 110km/h.

"If you look overseas ... it'd only be New Zealand, Japan and Norway that would be the only countries in the developed world with motorway speeds of less than 110km/h at the moment.

"We haven't had the roads before - that have that in-built safety - and now we do, so it makes sense that we can operate at 110km/h.''

A rolling survey of more than a thousand AA members, taken this month, showed up to 79 per cent of people supported a speed limit of 110km/h, he said.

Put to him that some people might feel the new limit was too fast, he said: "These are multi-lane roads. You just drive in the left-hand lane, simple. No one's forcing anyone to go 110km/h."