Driving in our District

The Waimakariri District has just over 1600 km of roads with over 920kms being sealed roads and over 640kms being unsealed.  With a mix of land uses in the District many different road users use our roads and understanding the different conditions that exist is key to staying safe on the roads.

Here you can find out more about the different road conditions and issues that drivers may encounter while driving in our District.

Different Road Surfaces

There are three main types of surface used on New Zealand’s roads and highways: Asphalt, chip-seal, and unsealed surfaces.

You may need to adjust your driving to suit the particular surface you are driving on and how each type of surface can affect your vehicle’s handling. You should also be alert for changes in the road surface.

Asphalt has a smooth, black appearance and produces a low level of road noise when you drive over it. It is often used on busy roads and curves because it stands up well to wear caused by braking vehicles.

Asphalt provides good overall grip, but has reduced skid resistance when it is wet. This means you should slow down and take extra care when driving on asphalt in wet weather.

Chip-seal consists of a thin layer of stones set in tar. It has a rough appearance when in good condition, but may wear smooth with age and frequent use. Worn chipseal has reduced skid resistance, so be alert for smooth patches as you drive.

Slow down on newly laid chip-seal. There may be patches of loose chips, which can increase your risk of skidding. Loose chips can also be thrown up when vehicles drive over them and could break your windscreen.

These roads tend to be minor roads in rural areas. Because the surface of the road is loose, it can move under your wheels and offers very low skid resistance. Loose stones may also be thrown up by vehicles.

Because of this, you need to drive very carefully on gravel roads. Adjust your speed to suit the conditions

You will also need to take extra care in dry weather, as your visibility may be reduced by dust that will be thrown up by any vehicles in front of you. Always increase your following distance to stay back from the dust cloud

Unsealed roads can be slippery to drive on. Keep left, reduce your speed, and slow down even further when approaching oncoming traffic as dust could obscure your vision and loose stones could chip your windscreen.

Drivers need to be aware of how to cross fords in our District as well as how to navigate through flooded roads.

The Waimakariri District has a number of fordsthat cross rivers. At different times of the year some of these fords are impassable due to flooding. Information on what fords are closed is shared via the council website and social media channels.

On-road signage will warn if a ford is closed due to either flooding or unsuitable road surface. Do not risk trying to cross flooded fords.

While you may be in a high 4WD vehicle the surface underneath the water in the ford may have changed and it can be hard to judge the depth. The water can also be very fast moving.

Please do not drive into floodwater that is moving or is more that 10cm deep. Let approaching cars pass first and make sure to drive slowly and steadily so you don't make a bow waves that may flood properties. make sure that you test you brakes as soon as you can after leaving the floodwater.

Fast moving water is very powerful - please take care, don't take any chances or  your car could be swept away. If you are unsure take another route. If you get stuck in floodwater, it's best to wait in the car and call for help rather than try to get out.

An unformed road, or paper road as they are commonly known, is a road that has not been formed to Council road standards and is not maintained by the Council as a formed road. These can be on private property or as part of a development. These are shared spaces used by vehicles, cyclists, walkers and horses. There are not generally maintained by Council.

Driving conditions around our rural roads in the District can be quite different and there are a number of things to look out for.

It is quite common to see stock (cows or sheep) being shifted on rural roads in Waimakariri.

  • If you see animals on the road, slow down and proceed carefully
  • Watch for instructions from the farm staff
  • Keep left and slowly drive through
  • If you have the head lights on, turn them off
  • If the stock prevent you moving forward, do NOT blow the horn or make other loud noises

Some farmers cross their stock across roads from one part of the farm to the other. Should you come across stock crossing the road under control of the farmer:

  • Stop 10-15 metres away
  • If you have the head lights on, turn them off
  • Do NOT blow the horn or make other loud sounds
  • Wait for the instructions from the farm staff to drive on.

Please be careful and courteous when sharing the road with horses. They can get frightened easily, so adjust your driving as soon as you see horses on the road.

  • Slow down and pass carefully, giving the horse and rider plenty of room
  • Do not sound your horn, rev your engine or pass at speed, as this could frighten the horse
  • If the horse appears frightened, stop
  • If the horse and rider are on a bridge or narrow road, be very careful – slow down or stop
  • At night, dip your headlights when approaching a horse
  • Two vehicles should avoid passing near a horse.

Find out more about driving in the Waimakariri here

Last reviewed date: 23 Nov 2023