Skip to content

Access keys for

  • h Home
  • m Menu
  • 0 Show list of access keys
  • 2 Skip to content
  • 3 Skip to top
mount messenger banner

Programme introduction

Improvements are underway on State Highway 3 (SH3) from Awakino Gorge to Mt Messenger to improve safety, resilience and route availability. This 58km section of SH3 is Taranaki’s main route north, it runs through rough terrain and is winding and narrow.

  • Estimated project cost

    $25 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status

    Design, Investigation

Project updates

Mt Messenger Bypass
Mt Messenger bypass decision a major milestone
Media release,
Mt Messenger Bypass RMA applications
Milestone for Mt Messenger project

Subscribe to updates

What does subscribing mean? Please read our Privacy statement


Three projects

The State Highway 3 Awakino Gorge to Mt Messenger Programme is made up of:

  • Mt Messenger Bypass
    A bypass of Mt Messenger is 5.2km long with additional work at the southern end creating about 6 km of improvements. It is located east of the existing highway (identified as Option C in the June 2017 public engagement). The route includes a bridge about 110m long and an estimated 230m long tunnel under the ridgeline south-east of Mt Messenger.
  • Awakino Tunnel Bypass
    A bypass of the Awakino Tunnel with two bridges across the Awakino River that reconnects to the existing highway 800 meters to the north.
  • SH3 Safety and Resilience Improvements
    A package of improvements that includes road widening, rest stop and pull over areas, slow vehicle bays and passing lanes, side barriers, and slope stability improvements.


The Programme will improve safety, resilience and journey experience  along this key transport route.

The main objectives are to:

  • reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries from crashes
  • reduce the number and duration of road closures
  • improve journey time predictability
  • improve drivers’ experience along the SH3.


Initial investigations on SH3 were carried out in the 1970s and 1980s by the Ministry of Works and Development for the National Roads Board. Since then a number of studies and investigations have been completed.

A business case confirmed there are ongoing safety, route availability and travel time issues, due to poor road layout along SH3. Poor route configuration has resulted in a number of deaths, serious injuries and road closures over recent years.

Cost and funding source

Funding of $114–200 million has been allocated for the improvements on SH3 north of Taranaki.

ProjectCostFunding source
Awakino Tunnel Bypass $9–15 million Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme
Mt Messenger Bypass $200 million Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme and the National Land Transport Programme 2015–18
Safety and Resilience Improvements $25–30 million National Land Transport Programme 2015–18


Construction for each project is estimated to occur during:

  • 2017 to 2019 – SH3 Safety and Resilience Improvements
  • 2018 to 2020 – Awakino Tunnel Bypass
  • 2018 to 2022 – Mt Messenger Bypass.

What's happening

Detailed design for the new Mt Messenger route is progressing. Applications for resource consents and a Notice of Requirement were lodged with the New Plymouth District Council or Taranaki Regional Council in December 2017. Public submissions on the applications closed on 27 February 2018. A hearing has been rescheduled to start on Wednesday 1 August 2018.

Design and consenting work is underway for the two-bridge bypass of Awakino Tunnel ahead of construction.

Some minor safety improvements are being carried out along the 58km stretch of highway. More complex safety and resilience improvement are planned including road widening, intersection improvements, passing opportunities, road realignments and slope stability.

Timeline for projects

Timeline for Awakino Gorge to Mt Messenger project