Living on unsealed roads

What maintenance happens on our rural roads?

There is over 1,100 kilometres of unsealed roads in the Kaipara district. Each year we spend about $1.6 million maintaining them. This includes regular grading and the application of new metal and drainage maintenance, signage and vegetation control. ​

​Why don’t we see the grader all year round?

There are certain times of the year when grading has the greatest benefit on unsealed roads. The best time to restore the shape of the road by heavy maintenance grading is when the road is damp as it will compact the road to a dense surface. Spring and autumn are ideal times. Grading in winter is avoided where possible as it invariably results in slushy conditions that are unsafe for motorists and take a long time to dry out. Grading in mid-summer is avoided as cutting into a dry hard surface leaves a layer of loose material that reduces to dust and can be blown away or get thrown off by traffic. Corrugations will reappear more easily on dry, loose surfaces which makes dry grading counter-productive.

How does Council’s service provider know that a road requires grading?

​Regular inspections are carried out by Council’s contractor, network inspector and area inspectors on the entire roading network to identify and repair problems of wear and tear such as corrugations and potholes. Repairs are prioritised and programmed accordingly across the entire network. Weather and traffic volume continually cause deterioration on unsealed roads.

What material is used as metal on an unsealed road?

Current Council has a strict engineering standard for the material used on our unsealed roads which our contractors carry out testing on regularly to ensure they comply. This material specification is currently being reviewed along with our neighbouring councils.
Council is currently running blended aggregate research on sections of our network to study how material with a high clay content performs. We are hoping to find a material with a higher clay content that shows a resistance to rutting and corrugations and also creates less dust. When compacted into the surface of the higher clay content it may appear that there is not enough metal on the road.

​Why is my road not being sealed?

Council no longer receives NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) subsidy for seal extensions and as a consequence new seal extension work is not generally implemented. Options for seal extensions to occur are that roads are either sealed by developers as part of their development and at times by Council, when funded via development and/or financial contributions.

Does Council audit maintenance work to determine if the levels of service are being met?

Council’s maintenance contract specifies strict performance measures and these are closely monitored to ensure the contractor is meeting the necessary outcomes and within certain timeframes. An extraordinary event such as storm damage that requires an emergency response may temporarily disrupt the programmed maintenance schedule.

​I have a specific enquiry. Who do I contact?

Please call us on 0800 727 059 or email