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Nightmare of a drive to Masterton

Yesterday morning, after being on extended leave, I drove from Martinborough to Masterton.

What a difference a few weeks makes on Wairarapa roads. Just when you think roading in the region couldn’t possibly get worse, it does.

As I left Martinborough, heading north towards Ponatahi, the wreck of a crashed car was in the ditch. The black car was on its side, the windscreen smashed, and the vehicle wrapped with police emergency tape.

The crash looked like it happened fast, unlike the slow ongoing pile-up that our roads resemble right now.

Pondering how the car could have left the road in what is by local standards a relatively straight, unproblematic stretch of road my mind soon moved on to which would be the least unpalatable alternative route for my journey into Masterton.

Ponatahi Rd is [mostly] sealed, has relatively few potholes, and, best of all, has a speed limit of 100kmh.

Quite the opposite of SH2. Now that construction of the roundabout at the intersection of SH2 and East Taratahi Rd has started, that intersection has been closed to all traffic. This is arguably one of the safest and fastest exits onto SH2 on the backroad from South Wairarapa. But, like so many good things previously available on SH2 [like a 100kmh speed limit], this safer option is not on the table.

Instead, other ways to access the main road to Masterton are through central Carterton, the Somerset Rd turnoff, or another route via Hughes Line. None particularly appealed.

No one would describe the road through Carterton as rapid transit. The speed limit is 50mh, and the town stretches some way, meaning diverting this way would add quite a bit of extra time. In addition, the good townsfolk of Carterton hardly need more traffic. SH2 runs right through its centre.

I discarded this option. The next possibility, Somerset Rd, is a known crash black spot just north of Carterton. Having used this intersection on occasion, I can attest to its adrenalin-inducing qualities.

Having no shoulder to speak of, a driver turning here needs to be agile, fast, and able to drive with one eye on the rear-view mirror and the other watching the front. At the same time. This isn’t easy. I discarded this option too. Unfortunately, as of yesterday morning, I did not yet know about Hughes Line, so reverted to the central Carterton option.

Once on SH2, my journey rapidly deteriorated.

Bumper-to-bumper single file traffic all the way from Carterton to Masterton – almost none of which was travelling at any of the [many] newly designated speed limits.

So many speed limits are there that it’s hard to simultaneously concentrate on which one is current while keeping to the available narrow strip of road between concrete bollards and traffic cones.

The journey from Martinborough to Masterton is now at least 15 minutes longer than it was before the Transport Agency’s most recent ‘improvements’.

Now, I’m looking forward to an even worse journey as local authorities debate reducing speed on the backroads.


  1. Kapiti coast gets 100kph dual carriage trans gully motorway all the way past Otaki avoiding the bottleneck towns and what do we get? The slowest 3rd world road network on the planet forced through loooong 50kph now 40kph towns. We didn’t want this speed reduction change. NZTA ADMITED their consultants said 100kph was fine. So undemocratic nanny state BS.

  2. Just driving to Greytown cemetery is pathetic! 80km limit pathetic, already our roads are full of inconsistent drivers that lack ability to think ahead and ones that still use mobile devices

  3. The stretch of between Carterton and Masterton is an absolute circus, the methods being used is madness.
    As for the stretch between Featherstone and Greytown……. Why is a gravel road “Moroa Road” 100kms and highway 2 80kms?
    A circus all round which will not reduce the road toll to zero, vehicle accidents have happened since people were able to drive because that’s what they are “Accidents”

  4. I am so glad it’s not just me who thinks this 80km between Masterton and Featherston is ridiculous. I was caught out yesterday, as a visitor to the area, and I had not realised it was 80km. I now have a speeding ticket. The road did not warrant such a slow speed.. When forced to drive slow, when it is not necessary, drivers are more likely to become distracted. I believe there is data to support this from studies. It certainly seemed to me like there is a motive behind this rather than road safety. I have come across plenty of areas where speed limits should be reduced for safety reasons and this is certainly not one of them.

  5. Usually takes me an 1hour 20 min from Masterton to Porirua now it takes 3hrs😏😴Care for a Sunday drive!!

  6. I drive that road every day and what a badly bought up bunch of road designers. Did their mothers not teach them to finish one thing before starting the next. There is progress but the cost of all that equipment & cones sitting doing nothing is a total waste of our money. Imagine what we could’ve done for our railway with all that money. Waka Kotahi needs sacking & their budget reallocated to the railways or keeping rural roads open..

  7. We can all agree that is going on for too long and very little work is being done. We traveled from Masterton to Porirua almost every day after work because of our son’s training and games and it’s getting longer and longer because of the road works and speed limits its insane.
    Every night coming back stuck on traffic lights seeing so many workers walking, standing around doing nothing or work shifted from one end to the other it’s ridiculous and I’m sick of driving through cones. Something has to be done I know everyone just had enough.

  8. It is stupid on the speed change. . Bring it back to 100. You go on country roads and it’s all 100.more accident on country roads than a motor way..

  9. Why they couldn’t have used censor traffic lights 🚦 like in the cities?
    Probably just dropping the speed to 80 as them will be easier for consent to build housing along there

  10. There is already radar cops on the job.
    After Featherston I was in a line of about 8 cars doing less than 80k because of 1 nervous driver up front who did not pull over and let others pass which caused 2 cars at the back of the que to risk overtaking all. Reinstate the 100k and this sort of thing would not happen.

  11. Living in Featherstone, we just don’t want to travel to masterton for our local shops now. It’s such a shame as it would be so nice to support local and business in masterton but it’s easier to drive to upperhutt now.
    The road works and planning of the roundabouts just havnt been planned well for future growth and ease of travel through to masterton. Why doesn’t the Waingawa roundabout have a feed lane into the industrial area. Just doesn’t make any sense. Come on NZTA even general public can see what’s wrong here.

  12. Agree Reducing the speed limit on the road between Masterton and Featherston is crazy especially when the Rimutaka Hill speed sign is left at 100kms. Not that you can do 100k over 99per cent of it. Where is the logic

  13. Why is the speed limit between Masterton and Fearherston 80km (0r less for so called road works then 100 km/h on Remutaka rd, CRAZY

  14. Region is full of in breads bogans and petrol heads who can not afford decent vehicles. Go figure. Stupidity always prevails and there is plenty of that there. Go give some money to fund the gangs and that should sort all your wows.

  15. Good old nzta have they even come out of there offices to look at our roads.with reduced speed limits they are pushing people onto the local roads that a in worse condition than sh2 think this will save lives no it won,t but it’s all about making them look good with less accidents on state highways when will nzta start looking at the whole picture we need more people with common sense and practical ability in thes govt departments

  16. I came that way back to Carterton just now and lo and behold several oncoming cars flashed their lights and yes there was a cop car hiding in the bushes !! What a mean trick and the same coming back from Masterton per Hughes Line yesterday, there was a cop car hiding amongst the trees!! Just after revenue gathering. NOT IMPRESSED!

  17. I would like to meet the person who ultimately decided on changing the speed limit down to 80 so that they can enlighten me on what the f*** they were thinking… obviously they think they know better than everyone else and I would like that explained to me, please.

  18. Why did this go ahead? The PM had slashed the plan of wholesale lowering speed limits so why did this change go ahead. Change it back to 100 or front up to the PMs and explain your case.

  19. Speed restrictions were to reduce the number of accidents resulting in deaths, but interesting to read report that there has only been 1 death from speed,in the past 20 years I think it was

  20. Has anyone from NZTA been fired yet? Of course not they never pay a price for their absurd and frankly dangerous decisions.

  21. Totally outrageous. There is no justification to reduce limit to 80kph. It has to be a money grab. How long will it be before a camera or two or police are seen sitting and waiting along thae whole stretch to Featherston.

  22. It took my son an hour to get to work from Carterton to Masterton 🤦 With speed limits reduced from Featherston to Masterton that just builds up the traffic. I live on the High St in Carterton & trying to get on the road is ridiculous!! Only manage to get in when a kind driver usher’s me to go. As for the roadworks on the straight to Masterton what are they doing???!! There are hardly any workers there just a whole lot of cones & & reduced speed limit signs. Ridiculous!!!

  23. Again people making decisions without checking with the local people.Roadis very straight and no need for drop in speed limit..Bring back the 100 km per hour limit.

    • Just to build 2 round abouts they’ve been farting around for months. They’d build this in less than a week in China, Yeah yeah, you’d say we have better standards, I agree, but how can it take months, its ridiculous. Also, the new bridge they’ve been building on Colombo road, feels like it will never be complete.

  24. And very little evidence of work being done. Lots of signs, bollards, cones and machinery but rarely see any workers!!!

  25. Ridiculous reducing speed Featherston to Masterton. The road works along that stretch have been going on for 2+ years…yet little to show

  26. Should go back to 100kph as at 80kph more chance of accident, going that slow mind tends to wonder boredom set in.

  27. Totally agree but it will be slower when (surely soon to be introduced) someone has to walk in front carrying a red flag

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