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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti
Green pattern.

9.5 Focus on Resilience


Dunedin’s transport system faces threats from the effects of climate change. In some cases, the existing network also encourages and locks people into unsustainable travel patterns.

Strategic response

Promote the integration of land use and transport planning to reduce the demand for vehicle travel, and plan, prioritise and support local community responses, to ensure Dunedin’s critical transport infrastructure is resilient in the face of future threats and constraints.


  • Reduced reliance on fossil fuel-based products for transport and transport infrastructure.
  • Increased protection of the transport network from sea level rise and other climate change effects, where appropriate.
  • Reduced need for people to travel, through the integration of land use and transport planning.


Average weekly household expenditure on transport by 2024 has been maintained at or below 2013 levels, as a percentage of total average weekly household expenditure.

Strategic approach

Dunedin has 1800km of roads plus other transport related assets such as 1000km of kerb and channel, 1000km of footpaths, retaining walls, bridges and culverts, signs and markers, seawalls, drains and traffic signals. In total, these assets are worth $1.3 billion63. They require on-going maintenance to ensure their value is maintained and they continue to provide for the needs of the community and the wider region. It is essential that these assets are utilised as efficiently as possible to maximise the benefits from the investment and their on-going maintenance. The strategic approach will be as follows.

Supporting the Spatial Plan – increased residential density and the transport system

It is more efficient and cost effective to locate new residential development where there is sufficient existing road capacity, in preference to ‘greenfield’ locations which require construction and on-going maintenance of new infrastructure. This aligns with the strategic direction of the Spatial Plan to provide for more medium-density residential development, around centres and public transport routes where optimal use of the existing transport system and other infrastructure can be made.

As this development takes place over time, it will support greater network resilience, less need for new infrastructure and decreased dependence on fossil fuels. This approach is also consistent with central Government direction of maximising efficiency and value for money, by ‘sweating the existing asset’ in preference to constructing new infrastructure. How this will be achieved and supported is discussed in more detail earlier in Section 9.3, the ‘Focus on Centres’.

This focus on increasing residential density also highlights the importance of the centres upgrades outlined in Section 9.3. With increasing numbers of people living in and close to the central city it will become increasingly important to provide high quality public spaces, designed for people to socialise and interact in these areas. Some examples of such spaces could include pedestrian streets and inner-city gardens, both of which would be consistent with the strategic direction set out in the Focus on Centres of making better provision for pedestrians.

Supporting the Spatial Plan – resilience in rural areas

The retention of important services in rural areas is a key issue of resilience for rural communities. As identified in Section 2.4, those living in rural communities are highly dependent on motor-vehicles due to the long travel distances in such areas. It is unlikely this vehicle dependence can be significantly mitigated through active modes or public transport provision. This highlights the need for the retention of key goods and services provision (such as healthcare, schools and grocery stores) in rural communities to minimise the need for rural residents to travel even longer distances to access goods and services in major urban centres.

It is intended that the Energy Plan (currently under development), will deliver on aspects of the Integrated Transport Strategy in relation to rural resilience. The Energy Plan will explore the possibility of developing local alternative transport fuel sources, and other ways of providing travel choices and increased transport resilience, for rural communities to provide for their transport needs in a future of fuel price volatility.

The DCC will explore possible funding mechanisms to support local place-based approaches and community initiatives for ensuring transport resilience.

The Dunedin Digital Strategy

Improved broadband networks that enable people to work from home or attend meetings via teleconferencing also have the potential to help reduce people’s need to travel. The Dunedin Digital Strategy aims for high-speed broadband and WiFi to be extended to most of Dunedin’s residents, in both urban and rural areas, by 201664. This improved access to the internet can benefit everyone, but may be of particular benefit to those without access to a motor vehicle. This is approximately 10% of Dunedin households on average, but this figure is higher in some areas (see Figure 11 in Section 2.8). This is also likely to benefit rural communities for whom travel distances tend to be long and transport costs high.

New Zealand’s emission reduction targets

The New Zealand government has set a medium-term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020, in addition to a long term goal of 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. It is likely that achieving these targets will not only require action at the national level but also local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, approximately 40% of which come from transport, as discussed in Section 2.9. The development of an Environment Strategy for Dunedin (intended to commence late 2013) will explore how Dunedin might contribute to meeting this target and establish the monitoring necessary to measure progress. The Integrated Transport Strategy’s goal of 40% of census respondents using active modes or public transport as their primary mode of travel to work by 2024 (see ‘Focus on Travel Choices’, Section 9.2) will also make a key contribution to achieving this greenhouse gas reduction target.

Explore developing an Economic Network Model

Government funding for maintenance of local roads is decreasing over time, and councils are being asked to look at making efficiencies in this area (see 2.9). One possibility is to explore a model of prioritisation based on economic value or social value (or a combination of factors), where roads that are of higher value are maintained to a higher level of service, and those of lower value may receive a lower level of service or may even be downgraded or, in extreme cases, abandoned over time. This approach (called an Economic Network Model) is being explored by several other councils around the country and the DCC will also explore the value of this option over the short to medium term to see whether this approach would yield benefits for Dunedin.

Explore alternatives to bitumen and the potential to recycle roading waste

Maintenance costs are increasing over time as a result of volatile fuel and bitumen prices. This presents a challenge when coupled with constrained funding for local road maintenance. Alternatives to bitumen, such as synthetic or biomass-based agents exist but are not readily available on the New Zealand market and are generally cost-prohibitive in comparison to bitumen. There is also a variety of environmental problems associated with production of biomass-based agents, and bitumen is a by-product of the oil refining process.

Recycling of waste product from road infrastructure maintenance may also provide an opportunity for increased resilience in the future. Old concrete from kerb and channel renewal and asphalt millings left over after re-surfacing of sealed roads are examples of products that may be recycled back into the transport network. However, the roading industry in New Zealand is not yet equipped to recycle these materials, or to do so in a way that achieves a standard equal to new product.

The DCC will stay informed of developments in these areas and will encourage contractors to adopt sustainable practices over time, as environmentally friendly alternatives to bitumen and recycling capability become available and viable. One method of supporting uptake in this area may be through the DCC’s Waste Levy Fund. In the Waste Minimisation Plan, the DCC has committed to make funds available for the purpose of promoting or achieving waste minimisation in accordance with the Plan65. Roading contractors seeking to invest in waste minimisation methods may be eligible to apply for grants from the Waste Levy Fund.

Develop a Preventative Maintenance Strategy

It is anticipated that sea level rise and other hazards could affect some of the city’s transportation infrastructure within the life of this Strategy. The DCC will explore developing a preventative maintenance strategy to identify and develop approaches to ensure Dunedin’s transport infrastructure is appropriately resilient in the event of these effects.


  1. DCC official roading asset evaluation 2012.
  2. Dunedin Digital Strategy
  3. A waste levy is collected by central Government at the landfill gate, and a portion of that is returned to the DCC for use in promoting or achieving waste minimisation. The DCC has made some of this money available in the form of a grant scheme. For more information, see the DCC Waste Minimisation Plan.

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