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$289 million forecast total investment

In September 2021 a record $24.3 billion investment in Aotearoa’s land transport system was announced as part of Ngā Kaupapa Huarahi o Aotearoa | 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Activities funded through the NLTP aim to make New Zealand’s roads safer and more resilient, provide you with healthier, more environmentally friendly ways to move to the places that matter to you and keep freight flowing.

The regions of Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough make up the Top of the South. The Top of the South economy depends on a reliable and efficient land transport system for its primary industries to get goods to market.

Population and economic growth are driving the need for a land transport system across the Top of the South that is safe, more resilient and offers travel choice.

While its critical the region is supported by good freight routes to ensure economic prosperity, in the region’s urban areas greater numbers of people need to be using public transport and walking or cycling A shift in the way people move about will help reduce the impact the transport sector has on the environment.

In Nelson and Richmond, integrated urban and transport planning in partnership with local Councils, and better transport choices are a focus for this NLTP period. Improvements are planned for walking and cycling facilities and to the public transport network to boost patronage.

Work is underway by both the Nelson and Tasman councils to review the Future Development Strategy. Part of that review will consider how land use planning is supported by an integrated land transport system, offering choice in the way people move around. In Nelson, this is supported by the Nelson Future Access Project, in which the programme business case has identified how to improve walking and cycling facilities and public transport services on local roads and state highways from Annesbrook in the south to the Port in the north.

In Tasman, the integrated regional approach is supported by the Richmond Transport Programme Business Case and network operating framework.

Improving safety

Outside the main urban areas, the focus for the Top of the South is on safety.

Throughout Top of the South during the next three years, $22 million will be spent on improving safety across one corridor to reduce deaths and serious injuries. Including the installation of median barriers on SH6 Blenheim to Nelson.

Under the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, $6.8 million is being invested in safety upgrades to Motueka’s High Street (SH60). This will include the construction of a roundabout, installation of traffic signals and a new pedestrian crossing.

Better travel options

Completing the Richmond Transport Programme Business Case and the detailed business case for Nelson Future Access Project are critical to make decisions on the form and timing of walking and cycling improvements in these two urban areas. These complementary business cases are key to ensuring a long-term integrated approach to all travel modes and through both urban areas.

The Nelson Future Access Project considers the key connections through the Nelson urban area, and how to ensure that these are safe, and enable more people to walk and cycle to access school, work and recreational opportunities.

Richmond and the wider Tasman region is experiencing significant business and residential growth and subsequently increasing traffic volumes. The Richmond Transport Programme Business Case is looking to address this by identifying ways to make Richmond a safer and more reliable place to travel around. It has a focus on providing options, so people are less reliant on using private vehicles, particularly for short trips in and around Richmond. This focus will help to lower transport emissions in the region. The business case is also looking at how to support a vibrant town centre while ensuring the transport system can support better connections to neighbouring towns and Nelson city.

In Marlborough, the 2021–24 NLTP will continue to support the delivery of the Whale Trail, a 160km off-road cycle trail connecting Picton and Kaikōura.

Improving freight connections

The Nelson Future Access Programme will recommend long-term solutions to provide greater resilience on SH6 Rocks Road, a regionally significant freight link. While no work is expected to be undertaken this NLTP, the detailed business case will identify a clear plan for the future of the transport system.

SH6 and SH60 provide critical links to Port Nelson and Nelson Airport from both Nelson and Tasman. We continue to work with both regions on low cost low risk safety and freight efficiency improvements.

Inter-island road and rail links down the east coast of the South Island, between Picton and Christchurch, are critical for the movement of freight. KiwiRail is progressing plans to replace its three ferries with two larger ferries from 2024. This will place additional pressure on the regional transport system. We’re working with KiwiRail, Port Marlborough and the Marlborough District Council to support the Waitohi Picton Transport Network planning and Waitohi Picton Ferry Precinct Redevelopment project to ensure the transport network is able to accommodate the increased traffic volumes. This includes improvements to SH1. We’re also working with the Marlborough District Council to develop a Blenheim Integrated Transport Strategy to provide a long-term view of Blenheim’s transport system.

Under the Rail Network Investment Programme, resilience works will be carried out on the Main North Line. Bridge 189, south of Picton, will be replaced. In addition, the last remaining overhead power cables for signals on the Main North Line, between Picton and Spring Creek will be removed, which will reduce the line’s vulnerability to weather events. About 3kms of track will be re-sleepered and 1km of track re-railed, along with other track and civil infrastructure works to improve formation and drainage.

Investment highlights for 2021–24

  • Completion of the Richmond Transport Programme Business Case, in response to the traffic growth through and around Richmond
  • Completion of the detailed business case for the Nelson Future Access Project
  • Work on SH60 Tākaka Hill to repair damage from Cyclone Gita on SH60 Tākaka Hill, between Riwaka and Tākaka
  • Safety improvements and speed review on SH1 Inland Alternative Route, Maruia to Renwick
  • Speed review on SH1 Blenheim to Seddon
  • Continued progress on the Whale Trail, a 160km off-road cycle trail connecting Picton and Kaikōura. This is funded through the Provincial Growth Fund.

Summary of achievements from 2018–21


  • Engagement completed for Nelson Future Access project detailed business case
  • Speed review for State Highway 6 from Blenheim to Nelson completed and safer speed limits implemented
  • The replacement Saltwater Creek bridge was built and opened, in conjunction with Nelson City Council
  • Work was completed on the Tāhunanui shared pathway.


  • Completed construction of the shared pathway for walking and cycling between Tākaka and Paines Ford to improve safety along SH60
  • Emergency repair works continued on SH60 Tākaka Hill, following damage caused by Cyclone Gita. Construction is well advanced across all five sites and on schedule for the highway to re-open to two lanes by the end of 2021.


  • Completed construction of a new bridge on SH1 over the Ōpaoa River, providing safer access for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Completed construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of SH6 and SH62 to improve safety
  • Work was nearing completion on the new cycle lanes along Middle Renwick Road (SH6), from Murphys Road/Battys Road through to Westwood Business Park, Blenheim – a joint project with Marlborough District Council
  • Work was underway to plan for better Picton Port Access and redevelopment, in conjunction with KiwiRail, Marlborough District Council and Ports of Marlborough.

Read about a few of the ways that previous investment has delivered for Top of the South: Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough communities and New Zealand.