Until the 1920s most sealed roads were in or close to cities and towns. Less than half of all roads were metalled (covered in crushed gravel). Unsealed roads would turn to mud in heavy rain. Sealing of roads gained impetus over the 1950s and 1960s. By the end of the 1970s all public roads were at least metalled, and by the 1990s over half were sealed.
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Source: John McCrystal, 100 years of motoring in New Zealand. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett, 2003, p. 98