State Highway 3 gets safety upgrade just in time for the holidays


Safety improvements including new electronic signs, on State Highway 3 between Awakino Gorge and Mt Messenger will help to make the journey safer this festive season.

Hannah’s curve

The sign southbound at Hannah’s curve.

The signs that warn drivers to slow down as they approach sharp bends have been installed 5km north and 8km south of the Awakino Tunnel. Further signs will be installed north of Ahititi School before Christmas. 

The signs are activated by moving traffic and have been proven to be more effective at alerting drivers to approaching hazards than traditional static signs. 

NZ Transport Agency Regional Transport Systems Manager, Ross I’Anson hopes the new signs, along with other safety improvements recently made to the route, will help drivers make better decisions and reduce the risk of crashes over the busy holiday season.

“11 people have died and 45 have been seriously injured in crashes between 2007 and 2017 on the highway between Awakino and Mt Messenger,” he says.

“Most of these crashes resulted from people losing control of their vehicle and running off the road or crashing head-on. “

Other improvements include roadside safety barriers and the removal of trees and bushes to make it easier for drivers to see the road ahead. New side barriers have also been fitted with a special rail and yellow end shield that helps protect motorcyclists if they crash. A new pull over area for drivers to rest or let other vehicles pass will be created early in the new year.  

The work is expected to be complete in May 2018. It will pave the way for more extensive work next year, which will include adding passing lanes at the western end of Awakino Gorge and north of Tongaporutu to make it safer for vehicles to pass and reduce driver frustration. Slow vehicle bays will also be created within the Awakino Gorge to allow vehicles to safely pass trucks and other slow-moving vehicles.

This project is part of the Government’s Safe Roads and Roadsides Programme which is underway to help prevent deaths and serious injuries on rural roads around the country.

For more information on the Awakino Gorge to Mt Messenger Programme, visit