Household travel time by mode of transport

This section presents statistics on the percentage of household travel time spent travelling by mode of transport.

Motorised forms of transport (e.g. cars, vans, trucks and motorcycles) contribute to air pollution, noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Active transport (e.g. walking and cycling) has a range of benefits: it increases physical activity, improves mental health, and reduces the risk of a number of diseases. Public transport has environmental benefits through reduced harmful emissions, and can increase physical activity.  

Most travel time is spent in motor vehicles

In 2015–18, New Zealanders spent an average of 1,175 million hours each year travelling in motor vehicles (cars, vans or motorcycles). This is equal to 82.8% of the total hours spent travelling (Figure 1).

Meanwhile, 11.6% of all travel time was spent using active transport (walking or cycling). A further 4.2% was spent on public transport (public bus, train or ferry).

Figure 1: Time spent travelling by different transport modes each year, total New Zealand population, 2015-18 (percent of total hours travelled, %)

Little change over time in transport mode use

There has been little change in travel time by mode of transport from 2003–06 to 2011–14 (Figure 2). Due to a change in the methodology of the survey on which this indicator is based, the 2015–18 period cannot be compared to the historical data below. 

Figure 2: Percentage of total travel time spent travelling by mode of transport, 2003-06 to 2011-14 (%)

Younger and older people made more use of active & public transport

In 2015–18, people aged under 15 years and 76+ years spent the highest percentage of their travel time using active transport (Figure 3). People aged 30 years and younger spent more of their time on average on public transport than other age groups.

Figure 3: Use of active and public transport, as a percentage of total travel time, by age group (years), 2015-18 (% of total hours travelled)

Large regional differences in travel modes used

Public and active transport made up a particularly high proportion of travel time for people in the Wellington region, representing 27.6% of all travel time. Much of this is due to the amount of time residents of the region spent walking. Meanwhile, people in Gisborne spent only 3.3% of their travel time across both active and public transport.

Figure 4: Use of active and public transport, as a percentage of total travel time, by regional council, 2015-18 (% of total hours travelled)

Information about the data

Household travel time by mode of transport

Source: New Zealand Household Travel Survey, Ministry of Transport

Definition: The amount of household travel time spent travelling by transport mode, as a percentage of total household travel time (in hours) spent travelling per year, for the population aged 5+ years. For this indicator, household travel excludes professional driver trips, that is, those trips done to transport goods or people as a professional driver or for commercial purposes. 

For more information, visit the Ministry of Transport's webpage on the New Zealand Household Travel Survey.

For access to the data, visit Statistics New Zealand's NZ.Stat website, and look under the 'Transport' section. 

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