Creating a safer, more resilient, and reliable transport network that supports Taranaki’s export-based economy and growing communities is a key investment focus of the 2021-24 NLTP.

State Highway 3 (SH3) is relied on for regional connections, and to the rest of the North Island. Significant works are planned to address safety issues on SH3) south, and the new Mt Messenger Bypass and safety improvements between Waitara and Bell Block will provide a more resilient, safer journey through to the Waikato.

In addition to exports, tourism plays an important role in growing Taranaki’s economy. The region’s mountain, beaches and forests together with events such as WOMAD and the Taranaki Garden Festival, are attracting growing numbers of visitors making it a priority to provide safe, efficient, and reliable access to the region’s attractions. 

The programme of improvements for The Forgotten World Highway (SH43), supports the region’s Economic Development Strategy Tapuae Road: Make Way for Taranaki, by making it easier and safer for people experience this iconic journey.

Taranaki is now home to more than 117,000 people. Population growth pressures remain steady with the New Plymouth district classified as a high-growth area. South Taranaki is also seeing population growth. Together with our partners, we are working to create a transport system that provides safe access for communities and encourages walking and cycling.  

Improving the quality and reliability the state highway network for the region, which carries a high volume of freight, is a key priority with $77 million being invested in maintenance this year.

In the last 12 months

  • Design works for the SH3/Princess Street roundabout were completed and consents lodged, to enable construction of the roundabout to start this summer. This will be the first of four roundabouts to be built as part of Te Ara Tūtohu: SH3 Waitara to Bell Block safety improvements.
  • The first 2kms of unsealed road through the Tāngarākau Gorge on the Forgotten World Highway was sealed, for a safer, more reliable journey for locals and visitors to the region. This project is funded through Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit and aims to bring more tourism to the region and create safer access for locals.
  • North of Mt Messenger on SH3, a $8.8m passing lane was constructed at Rapanui and $1.6m intersection improvements completed at Tongaporu This work was part of the Awakino to Mt Messenger programme. 
  • A new two-lane bridge was constructed over a damaged Manawariri Stream Culvert on SH43 at Toko, east of Stratford, improving the reliability and safety of the route. This work is part of a package of works funded through the regional allocation of the NZ Upgrade programme.
  • A new 40m-long concrete culvert was built at Tahora Saddle on SH43, reinstating the road to two lanes.
  • A bumper maintenance programme was completed over the summer, significantly improving the safety and resilience of the State Highway Network. In total, nine and a half lane kms of state highway was resealed, 10.89 lane kms of state highway asphalted and 9.35 lane kms of state highway completely rebuilt across 145 sites.
  • SH3 between Inglewood and Midhirst was completely rebuilt as part of the maintenance programme creating a safer and more resilient road for all users.
  • Stakeholder and community engagement was undertaken on speeds on sections of SH3, SH3A, SH45 and SH44 across Taranaki.
  • Designs for a new bridge over Kahouri Stream, east of Stratford on SH43 were completed, with construction expected to start late 2022. The project is part of the programme of works, funded through Kānoa – Regional Economic development and Investment Unit and the regional allocation of the NZ Upgrade Programme.
  • Design for sealing the final 10km section of highway through the Tāngarākau Gorge on the Forgotten World Highway (SH43) is complete, with work scheduled to being summer 2022-23.
  • Draft design for the work to improve safety and access for pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection of Devon Street West (SH45) Belair and Bayley streets in New Plymouth has been completed and community engagement is scheduled to be undertaken this year. Funded by Waka Kotahi, the project is being delivered by New Plymouth District Council.
  • A $1.1m stock effluent disposal facility, which will minimise environmental risks to the local area was built on SH3 at Ahititi, in north Taranaki.

Underway or about to start

  • Work on the $280m Te Ara o Te Ata: Mount Messenger Bypass got underway in May 2022, with preparation works for a cableway to help with construction of the new road by carrying machinery and people over 600 metres of forest into the heart of the 6km route.
  • Construction of stormwater infrastructure on SH3 to support the first roundabout to be built as part of the Te Ara Tūtohu SH3 Waitara to Bell Block safety improvements project is underway and expected to be completed by October 2022.
  • Design work is progressing well for the SH3/Waitara Road roundabout , the second to be built as part of the $82m Te Ara Tūtohu SH3 Waitara to Bell Block safety improvements project.
  • Detailed design work for safety improvements on SH3 between New Plymouth and Egmont Village, including a new roundabout at the intersection of Mangorei Road and SH3 and sections of median barrier is nearing completion, with construction scheduled to start before the end of 2022.
  • A feasibility study for safety improvements on SH3A and SH3, between Egmont Village and Hāwera, is underway.
  • A $1.1m stock effluent disposal facility, which will minimise environmental risks to the local area, is being built on SH3 at Ahititi, in north Taranaki.
  • Work on a 33-metre-long and between eight- and 14-metre-high retaining wall to repair a large underslip on the Forgotten World Highway (State Highway 43), 23km southwest of Taumarunui, is underway. Once completed the new retaining wall will enable the road to be reinstated to two lanes.
  • A business case to connect the existing shared coastal walkway to Waitara is currently being confirmed. The business case is co-funded by New Plymouth District Council and Waka Kotahi.
  • Designs for creating safe access points for pedestrians at two locations on SH3 in Stratford are being progressed.
  • Design work for a pedestrian crossing in Waverley, south of Hāwera is being progressed.
  • Safety improvements for The Forgotten World Highway, funded through the regional allocation of the NZ Upgrade Programme, are being completed. A total of 225 safety signs have been installed and trees removed.  Installation of road safety barriers along the route is about to begin.

Funding overview

NLTP Investment in 2021/22 Forecast investment for 2021-24
Total $122 million $476 million
Maintenance and operations  $77 million $201 million
Public transport investment $4.7 million $15 million
Walking and cycling $1.9 million $12 million
Road to Zero (safety)  $12 million $73 million
Network improvements  $20 million $151 million

Overview map

Taranaki map 2022

View larger map [PDF, 700 KB]