Travel mode

Why it's important

Public and active transport modes have environmental and health benefits, and are more efficient ways of using transport infrastructure than private vehicles.

Key points

  • The New Zealand Household Travel Survey showed that over four-fifths (83%) of all trips were by car, 62% by drivers and the remaining 21% as passengers.
  • Being a pedestrian was the next most common trip mode, with 12% of all trips.
  • Cycling and public transport comprised 3% and 2% respectively.

Note this is an interactive chart and you can select the legend items to change what is shown on the graph.


After a slight decline in the proportion of private vehicle trips between 2006 and 2009, this proportion has been increasing again to 2006 levels in 2014.

Travellers in Christchurch’s main urban area mostly use cars to travel, mostly as drivers (62%) with a much smaller proportion as passengers (21%).  Across New Zealand, people are slightly less likely to drive (60%) and more likely to be a passengers (24%).

The same proportion are pedestrians in Christchurch (12%) as for the whole of New Zealand (12%). Likewise, cyclists are similar (3% Christchurch, 1% New Zealand) and those who take public transport (2% Christchurch, 3% New Zealand).

An updated Household Travel Survey is underway. However, from 23 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, the Ministry paused face-to-face surveying for the Household Travel Survey due to the COVID-19 risk.

Data notes

The New Zealand Household Travel Survey is an ongoing survey conducted for the Ministry of Transport. From 2015 onwards, each member in selected households is asked to record all their travel over a seven-day period. Each person in the household is then interviewed about their travel and other related information.

Please note that these are preliminary results from the New Zealand Household Travel Survey and may be subject to change. These results from the new survey are not directly comparable to the results from the 2003-14 or earlier travel surveys.

This analysis only includes people in households where each member of the household fully completed the survey and the results are weighted to represent the New Zealand population.

A 'trip leg' is a non-stop leg of travel by a single mode. For example, catching a bus to work could involve at least three trip legs –  the walk to the bus stop, the bus leg to town and the walk from the bus stop to work.

Walking trips are included if they are 100m or more.

Travel off-road or on private property is not included. That is, tramping, walking or driving around the farm, walking in shopping malls, etc is excluded from the survey.

Main Urban Areas, Secondary Urban Areas and Rural areas are as defined by Stats NZ from the 2006 Census.

Data information and downloads

Data source

Ministry of Transport New Zealand Household Travel Survey 2015-2018

Data access

Available on the Ministry of Transport website(external link)

Date updated

Last updated in 2019

Data download

Download data tables [XLSX, 13 KB]

Page updated

June 2021

Data breakdowns

Geographic area

Christchurch Main Urban Area

Other variables

Million kilometres per year/per person, Million hours per year/per person, Million trip legs per year/per person

Links to other information and reports