Auckland Council/Auckland Transport: Stop downgrading suburban roads to chip seal

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Auckland Council/Auckland Transport: Stop downgrading suburban roads to chip seal

“We, the undersigned, call on Auckland Council/Auckland Transport to immediately stop downgrading suburban roads to the current low standard of chip seal, and to implement a policy of asphalt (or equivalent) road surfaces on suburban roads.”

The Shore Action team has been fielding a large number of complaints and concerns from North Shore residents on the downgrading of roads to loose, poor quality chip seal. Although we are elected members on the Kaipātiki Local Board on the North Shore, this is an Auckland-wide issue and will be coming to a neighbourhood near you. We have created this petition to help the decision-makers at Auckland Council (Mayor and Councillors) and Auckland Transport (Board of Directors) understand the concerns of Auckland residents and the implications of their policy decision to effectively downgrade our suburban roads.

Media enquiries:
John Gillon, Shore Action
Phone: 021 0497933


In 2014, Auckland Transport adopted a policy to downgrade ALL suburban roads to chip seal where they carry less than 10,000 vehicles per day. A link to the signed policy is included below.

Since then, as each suburban road has come up for re-sealing, it has been downgraded from asphalt (hotmix) or old-style chip seal, to poor quality loose chip seal.

There are some small exceptions, such as the turning circles at the end of cul-de-sacs and some intersections, but otherwise pretty much all suburban roads across Auckland are being downgraded to chip seal.

Why is this a problem?

Chip seal has always been a less desirable method of sealing roads as it is noisier and produces loose chips, however the chip seal that Auckland Transport now seals our roads with is NOT the same chip seal that the former councils used - it is a smaller chip that does not stick very well.

Even after numerous sweeps of the road, a huge amount of these loose chips are spread everywhere, causing numerous problems for residents; safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists; damage to vehicles; dangers when mowing the berm; and damage to houses (carpets and wooden floors). The stones accumulate in the stormwater system which can’t be good for the environment, and leave bare patches and streaks in the road.

Although Auckland Transport's contractors sweep up loose stones at least twice, in many cases there are still loose stones causing problems weeks, months or years after the resealing. We don’t know for sure how many sweeps each road receives, as Auckland Transport do not keep track of them beyond the first two (CAS-259316-X0M0H7), but according to local residents many roads receive multiple sweeps in the first year following the resealing.

Why is Auckland Transport downgrading our roads?

The simple answer is “Money”. Like all parts of Auckland Council, Auckland Transport has for many years been under orders from the various Mayors and Councillors to reduce costs, or divert costs into specific projects, and so resealing roads to a high standard pays the price.

Chip seal is about 1/4 the cost of asphalt (hotmix), and is also subsidised by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) when used on roads that carry less than 10,000 vehicles per day. The following costs have been sourced from Auckland Transport (CAS-259316-X0M0H7) and include the cost of the first two sweeps of chip seal:

  • Cost per kilometre of chip seal:
    1,000m long x 10m wide x $9.44 per m2 = $94,000 per km
  • Cost per kilometre of asphalt (hotmix):
    1,000m long x 10m wide x $49.60 per m2 = $496,000 per km

However it isn't clear if these are "whole of life" costs, or as we suspect, initial costs, which don't include further sweeps and repairs, or account for the shorter lifespan of chip seal.

For the record, Auckland Transport do not believe that they are downgrading our roads because the chip seal complies with NZTA’s "M6 Chip Sealing Standards", which sets the standards around 5 grades of stone. But we say that while the method used may be compliant and legal, it is an extremely poor quality result and definitely a downgrade from what was used before. We demand better.

Chip seal in the media

Article: “Questions raised over road resurfacing”

Article: “Chip seal: The Auckland residents who don't want a road upgrade”

Article: “Chip seal road grinds resident's gears”

Article: “Fight with bureaucrats over road resurfacing”

What you say on this issue

We have received the following comments from concerned residents and have chosen to keep their names anonymous (even where their comments are publicly available on social media):

Was terrible when they did our street this way, we had no notice & we thought maybe they just hadn't finished it. Every summer, like now we still get pools of melting tar into the driveway, up stairs, on shoes, stuck stones where they are not meant to be & this is two years on....

There's more chip on my lawn than on the road! Personally I cannot see any improvement at all... still lots bald patches up and down Lynn Rd. Not quite sure what the aim was?

Every time they have redone chip seal on the local roads we have had to replace a windscreen on one of our cars from stones flying up from cars either in front or going the opposite way.

Several weeks after the road being resealed we're still walking stone chips covered in tar into the house and getting the tar on the carpet.

Not safe for bicycles and motorcycles - loose chips means skids and accidents.

I live at the bottom of the hill and my wooden floors are scratched, [on] my drive one cannot walk bare foot on my drive due to all the stones. They are damaging my cars with the stones hitting the body work. All in all for the rates we are paying it is a very poor show. Everybody that has this on their streets should protest very strongly to the council.

Asphalt sealed streets should be provided as a core service by council, chip seal is a nightmare. We are paying rates for these services. It seems to me we are getting less and less for our money.

They said it was finished, nothing like driving on back country roads in the middle of suburbia.

It's a pain in the butt. Every car going up or down the road sounds like it's turning into my house. The road noise is really loud. One thing that is not mentioned but I'd imagine would be affected is the environment. Where do all these loose stones go? I don't mean the ones that spread over the footpaths and make them a nuisance for footpath uses like scooter kids or mums with strollers, or the ones that get stuck in my car treads and ruin the life of them. I'm talking about the ones that get washed into the drains and all drains lead to the sea! Will the drains get blocked and not be efficient in weather bombs? Will the waterways start getting polluted up with little stones? Good on AT for once again only thinking about themselves!! ;(

The road is dangerous. Road chips everywhere, just because there are not a lot of cars using the road doesn't mean we should put up with inferior roading.

They did this in Sunnyhaven Road in Beach Haven and it is constantly flicking stones and hot spots of melted tar. A terrible decision by the AT. I feel AT are a lone provider with no recourse for the decisions they make and they are not decisions that are for our benefit or betterment.

Wish AT would just use asphalt, I’m so sick of stones flicking up under my car when I leave my driveway.

I’ve had to spend $ on my car as the chip flicks up and gets caught in my wheels, making a horrific sound - I then have to go and have the wheels taken off at the garage to get the loose chip out!

This happened to me and I was furious. I actually wanna know how I can complain about it. It damaged my break pad sensor and it cost me $200 to fix.

That's less than ideal for cyclists and motorcyclist bordering on dangerous if the mess left on Verbena Ave was anything to go by.

Obviously the decision makers have never lived in a street with chip seal.

I think AT have lost the plot. Chip seal requires more maintenance than "hot mix" but of course it is not their money they are spending.

I have a broken ABS sensor because of this pointless crappy stuff. Stone got jammed in it. Can I claim for it?

They did ours last March and it's STILL gumming up my shoes and sticking to my tyres. Whoever ordered/did it should be sacked.

We had … damage to ABS on our car because of this seal.

This is a horrendous waste of money, asphalt is much cheaper in the long run and doesn’t come with all the problems, I just can’t believe they are getting away with this and whoever authorised it and thought was a good idea should be gone.

Salisbury Rd is due to be done. So dumb. Overseas they only put it on rural roads with low traffic flow, in Auckland we put it on busy residential streets. So what, we can save a couple of dimes? Asphalt lasts twice as long as chip seal and is lower maintenance as well. Once again, our town planners need to go back to school.

So crap. Verbena Road is already pulling up bald patches everywhere just months after reseal. Also all the stones with tar on them wash into our streams and beaches.

It chips the bottom of your car, it gets on your driveway, then you walk it into your house, just hope you don’t have wooden floors, it does not last, starts to peel off the old road surface, and then hey they come back and start this all over again, they want to give us cheap roads well we should start paying less rates.

We would like them to come and look at the mess they have made of our road. Chip seal went down just before Christmas. It is patchy, noisy stones constantly coming down our drives and in our houses. It is a total waste of money. We had a perfectly good road. Look out Fowler St, Gretel Place and all you other streets. Another Council complete disaster.

Same story everywhere. It's a total waste of money and they're trashing good roads. Insanity.

They did our road (Wernham Place) a few months back. Dreadful - was much better beforehand.

We still have them since Feb or March. We were one of the first roads, just before Covid.

Chipseal is cheap and is a poor constitute for asphaltic concrete (AC) . The high volume of traffic in these areas especially main arterial roads should without fail be AC. You mention the excess chip is removed, yet it is not ever done properly, causes damage to people's cars, not to mention the low temp cut back emulsions used these days to chip seal causes residual spray on vehicles inner guards and sills, etc. Residual loose chip with bitumen enters our storm water system, blocks catchpit - the list goes on. Done properly and for the right roads chip seal is fine, but surely there comes a time we need to look at the long run.

Chip seal ends up with loose chips towards the edges of the road, just where cyclists are likely to be. Dangerously slippery.

Chip seal is garbage. Our street in Murray’s Bay was done 5 months ago. We have chip walked into the house non-stop. The road surface is dreadful, continually breaking up. Parked cars are getting paint chips. Now we are in the middle of summer the surface melts in the sun, and sticks to your tyres.

All in all it’s a shambles. I’ve complained to AT, they have basically said tough.

Yeah they didn't care in our case either & damaged some of the footpaths taking off corners making them unsafe, crappy job...little Billy in his wheelchair could really come a cropper on the footpath or an elderly person from the local home at the end of our street...they often go out for a walk...not ideal.

I think most people would prefer neglected and slightly pot-holed asphalt than the $hitty chip seal and all the pain that goes with it. Seems they always do a $hitty job laid with near zero care or skill. The stones hang around for months sprawled over paths, berms, driveways and load up stormwater drains. Not far off just having ghetto gravel roads. Seen kids hit with stones on the body from cars flicking them up as they drive by weeks after the job is apparently complete. Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst option if laid right for some streets, but from what I’ve seen, they seldom ever are.

The road surface is now a mix of gravel and tar and is already, after about 6 weeks, showing signs of wear.  There remains loose stones on the surface and the road is more akin to a construction area, certainly not a local road in a suburban setting.

I cannot accept that a good job has been done. Weeks after, there remains stones on the road, in the gutter and on private driveways and, the road surface is already showing signs of wear.

[Auckland Transport], your approach does not have sufficient regard to the desire of residents along the roads, your approach is very much towards economics and engineering considerations. Your approach essentially decimates the residential qualities of the locality. You are able to do that without any recourse to residents who are mainly all ratepayers and enjoy living in what is a great environment. It would have been great for you to have talked to the residents of the neighbourhood regarding what is planned before embarking on an exercise which neighbourhood conversations indicate, is not wanted. Your approach is one that residents feel they are unable to influence or participate in.

It was such a nightmare when they did our road. They never came back and fixed the smooth seal defects either. Not sure what's goes on at Council nowadays.

Can't say this was a good idea for Seaview Rd Windy Ridge- the tar is now melting then the buses will come along and rip it all up in no time.

Having loose chip seal is stupid. My husband rides a bike. He will be pinged often now from loose chips - this is dangerous to everyone. Children walking, people walking dogs with chips flying everywhere. Not great. It should go back to the smooth seal.

What a waste of money, most of these roads are perfectly fine. I thought a smoother surface road in a residential area was a good thing to assist with keeping the noise down too?

It’s sooooo annoying. Moore Street has been done I don’t know 4-5 times since I’ve lived in Hillcrest (11 + years ) and the road is just wrecked from this nonsense. The stones flick up all over the footpaths for weeks and the children walking to school get the stones stuck in their shoes/feet and if they’re scootering it causes them to nearly fly off their scooters because of the lumps and bumps that are left all over the footpaths. I feel like there’s absolutely no forward thinking with this CONSTANT ‘downgrading’.

I noticed McBreen Street last night. Such a shame to do this as it is inferior to tarseal in my opinion, particularly if the previous roading did not need repair. Noisy, messy, tar heats in summer and sticks to cars and shoes, chip moves into silly places and damages cars. What a terrible decision.

Our road (Verbena in Birkdale) was beautiful to drive... it took months for the loose stones to stop coming so much, still there are but has reduced the amount but driving now is like living in some forgotten rural area.

More information

Resealing Guidelines adopted by Auckland Transport in 2014 (section 5.1 details where chip seal or asphalt will be used):

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s M6 Chip Sealing Standards:


NOTE: This is a petition from Shore Action and does not necessarily reflect the view of the Kaipātiki Local Board, Auckland Transport, Auckland Council or any other organisation.