What is Access Hamilton?

Hamilton’s first transport strategy was developed in 1996, and from this, the first iteration of Access Hamilton was developed in 2005. Since then, it has been updated several times in both 2010 and now 2022, to align the vision for transport for our changing, growing city.

Over the next 30 years, we expect 260,000 people will call our city home. We are committed to keeping Hamilton Kirikiriroa as a place where everyone thrives socially and economically. Like other cities, we are facing some big challenges alongside our growing population, including climate change, accessibility, and the safety and wellbeing of our communities.

Making changes to the transport system takes time and can involve significant costs. We need to make sure we are doing the right thing at the right time and spending our money wisely.

The strategy sets out what our transport system needs to be like to serve our community’s needs now and into the future and identifies where we need to focus our efforts to achieve it.

Things we need to consider are:

  • planning for future growth
  • balancing and coordinating different forms of transport
  • improving transport equity
  • enabling a liveable city
  • securing funding for transport
  • aligning with local, regional, and national priorities.

The Access Hamilton transport strategy outlines what’s important to us and guides our investment decisions through our Long-Term and Annual Plans.

The initiatives that stem from this strategy allow us to work alongside our partners to deliver a Hamilton Kirikiriroa that can be enjoyed for generations.

Our vision

Our transport network enables everyone to connect to people and places in safe, accessible, and smart ways.

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Hamilton Kirikiriroa as a 20-minute city

What is the concept?

Our Access Hamilton strategy sets an aspiration for Hamilton Kirikiriroa to be a “20-minute city”.

This is defined as:

“A 20-minute city of compact, connected and healthy neighbourhoods in Hamilton Kirikiriroa means that people can live locally by meeting most of their daily needs* walking from their home, in pleasant surroundings and with safe, easy access to other parts of the city by biking, using micro-mobility or public transport.”**

The idea of a 20-minute city is simply one that’s easy to get around, where you and your family can easily access the services you need to work, learn, play and thrive close to where you live and have these services easily accessible without using a car. It's common sense really, and it's not a new idea.

The 20-minute city concept provides:

  • access to essential services easily and quickly
  • support to local businesses
  • less reliance on a private vehicle
  • reduced travel time and distances
  • less congested streets
  • reduced carbon emissions.

The 20-minute city concept is not:

  • a locked down city where you are monitored
  • a requirement to pay to leave your neighbourhood
  • a massive global conspiracy to control you
  • stopping you from owning or using a car
  • stopping you from travelling outside of your neighbourhood
  • a digital ID.

Living locally will help Hamiltonians to access various services – especially essential ones – close to home while not necessarily relying on a private vehicle. This means Hamiltonians can experience a higher quality of life.


* daily needs may include access to the following in your compact, connected and healthy neighbourhood: Local shops and businesses (e.g. supermarket (small), butcher, grocer, bakery, café, shared workspaces), opportunities for play, open green spaces, early childhood facilities, primary schools, health services such as doctors, dentists, chemists and public transport stops.

** This definition acknowledges that the 20-minute city is a concept. We will reflect this aspiration throughout our work with our partners and our strategies, plans and activities, however it is not intended to define a standard of service delivery.


You can read the strategy to learn more

What’s Council’s role in all of this?

We look after the planning that decides where, and what, gets built. We’ve already been doing some things that align with a 20-minute city for many years, because it’s what people want. We have commercial zones in residential areas so shops are handy, we invest in walking and cycling networks as well as public transport hubs, and we look at what’s already in the area when people want to build new developments.

The 20-minute city concept has informed our Access Hamilton Strategy which provides a framework that helps us focus this planning, and makes sure we are putting people first when we’re looking at how our city grows.

Why is there so much misinformation about it?

You might have heard talk about 20-minute or 15-minute cities already.

There is concern from people because of statements that our 20-minute city means some kind of locked down city where you are monitored all the time, have to pay to leave your neighbourhood, and it’s somehow linked to a massive global conspiracy to control you.

In fact, it’s not anything like that. It’s pretty much exactly the opposite.

To be honest, we don’t really know where all of this misinformation comes from. The claims about lockdowns and it being part of an international conspiracy are pretty new but seem to have really kicked off after COVID-19.

There’s also been a campaign which started overseas falsely claiming a connection between our 20-minute city concept with traffic congestion measures in Oxford, England. Some sites are claiming its part of a plan to lock us all down in response to fake storms. Those claims are wrong and have been thoroughly debunked by multiple independent fact-check sites around the world, but it hasn’t stopped people making the claims, generally linked with other misinformation.

There’s lots of videos and sites which make stuff up to suit their own agendas. They pop up all over the place and we can’t address every false allegation or weird theory. The sad thing is, they can look believable, claim they have a heap of ‘facts’ and they can make people worried.

All we can say is: if you see or hear something that says our 20-minute city planning is designed to make your life harder, it’s rubbish.

The outcomes we want to achieve

The Access Hamilton transport strategy outlines opportunities and challenges, but more importantly, it highlights outcomes for our city’s transport future – and how we plan to get there.

Our vision for the future of transport in Hamilton:

  • everyone is safe and feels safe while using our streets and public spaces
  • a low-emission transport system that is resilient against climate change
  • Hamilton Kirikiriroa is a great place to live for everyone
  • a healthy te awa o Waikato (Waikato River) and natural sites which sustain abundant life and prosperous communities for all generations
  • more people choose to travel on foot, by bike, by bus, or using micromobility devices such as scooters
  • Hamilton Kirikiriroa is accessible for all because it has a city culture and heritage that is shared, protected, and celebrated
  • Hamilton Kirikiriroa is a great place for everyone to work and do business
  • an adaptable, future-ready transport system that supports quality and compact urban form.

Who is involved

Access Hamilton was developed through a collaborative process by Council’s Elected Members, alongside key staff from a variety of areas within Council. There were other individuals, groups and organisations who assisted in the development of this strategy, including our partners such as Waikato-Tainui, Waikato Regional Council, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and many others.

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Last updated 21 July 2023