The speed limits on more than 300 roads in the Far North will be slashed from next year in a bid to improve safety.
The Far North District Council (FNDC) approved the speed management plan for the wider Bay of Islands area – including Kerikeri, Waipapa, Ōpua, Paihia, Waitangi, Haruru Falls and Whangaroa – at its November 16 council meeting.
The speed reductions cover a wide range of council roads and include Kapiro Rd, where residents have been lobbying to get the speed reduced from 100km/h to 70km/h for many years.
Kapiro Rd resident Niall Mayson said he and other residents were “thrilled” with the new 70km/h speed limit.
“I’ve been working on it for the last 18 months, and have picked up from where a lot of locals left off.
“I take my hat off to council for finally siding on the side of safety and doing everything they can to make it safer. They listened to the evidence, and what the community wanted.”
Kapiro Rd has been the site of dozens of crashes over the years including nine serious and two fatal crashes.
It is a semi-residential road with a lot of activity, with orchard workers coming and going, a childcare centre, a plant retailer, a large packhouse, and school bus stops.
In 2017 one resident became so exasperated with a spate of serious crashes at a Kapiro Rd black spot she made her own speed limit signs. Her 80km/h signs were removed within days.
Mayson congratulated the council on the decision to finally lower the limit.
“People I’ve spoken to are thrilled, particularly some long-term residents who have been lobbying council for years. It will take time for people to adjust ... but in six months time it will be part of the fabric.”
The new speed limits include all council-administered roads east of State Highway 10, extending from SH11 in the south to Whangaroa Harbour in the north. They will be rolled out next year.
Dozens of roads in Kerikeri and Waipapa will have their speed reduced from 50km/h to 40km/h.
There are also some drastic reductions including Kerikeri Rd from SH10 to south of Butler Rd, which will go from 80km/h to 50km/h.
A handful of roads will go from 100km/h to 30km/h including Blue Gum Lane and Hewitt Rd in Kerikeri, and Lewer St in Whangaroa.
About a dozen roads will go from 100km/h to 40km/h on the outskirts of Kerikeri including around Te Tii, Inlet Rd and streets around Opito Bay.
The review follows public consultation in 2022 that gathered 253 submissions, which were considered during a formal hearing in March this year.
Two-thirds of those submissions supported or partially supported the proposed new speed limits.
Far North Deputy Mayor Kelly Stratford said state highways, which come under the jurisdiction of NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, were not included.
Some of the larger reductions were simply because “some of the roads don’t lend themselves to going 100km/h″.
While locals were familiar with the roads and used common sense, the new 30km/h limits would “make things clearer and safer for visitors and new drivers”, she said.
“The review looks at what the practical speeds should be.
“Some of them were new developments, and because they were roads off state highways, they were ridiculously 100km/h.”
As for Kerikeri Rd’s reduction of 80km/h – and 60km/h outside the Old Packhouse Market – to 50km/h, Stratford said residents living along there were very supportive.
“The feedback we got from an engagement session from residents living on Kerikeri Rd ... was they love it when the market is on because they can get in and out of their driveways. There is a lot more development along there.”
Over the past 10 years, there have been five fatal and 42 serious injury crashes in the Bay of Islands-Kerikeri area, according to FNDC.
National and international research has shown that for every 5km/h reduction in average speeds, there is a 28 per cent decrease in fatal crashes and a 26 per cent fall in serious injury crashes.
The district-wide review of speed limits around the Far North started in 2019 with the roads around Kāeo, Waipapa, Waimate North and Ōkaihau.
The next areas to be reviewed were Kaitāia-Awaroa and Broadwood-Kohukohu in 2021.
Jenny Ling is a news reporter and features writer for the Northern Advocate. She has a special interest in covering health, food, lifestyle, business and animal welfare issues.