Going where no digger has gone before – May 2023

At the site of the future Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass on SH3 in Taranaki, the project’s innovative cableway is completed, certified and ready to roll.

It's an impressive sight - the 1.1 kilometre cableway will transport workers, machinery and materials safely north into the remote heart of the project area.

Completing the cableway means we can make a quick start to works in the next construction season, beginning in September. As we move towards the end of the current season we’ll be using the cableway in the establishment of areas for storage and the delivery of large machinery like excavators.

Take a look at the cableway system designed to help build the bypass – March 2023

Sitting off State Highway 3 north of Taranaki, and spanning more than a kilometre, you can find our Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger cableway—the first of its kind for a New Zealand roading project. The cableway is almost finished and we’re expecting it to be operational by April.

With areas of the project not accessible by road, the cableway will carry workers, machinery and material into remote areas of the project that will create a safer and more resilient SH3 route in and out of north Taranaki.

Velvet worm discovery – February 2023

Check out this unusual chap – found recently by our project ecologists before being relocated to a safe habitat beyond the construction zone.  Peripatus, also known as velvet worms, are unusual animals of the forest floor, sometimes referred to as ‘living fossils’ as they are remarkably unchanged from 500 million years ago. They are also a 'missing link' for their similarity to both worms and insects. For this reason they attract much scientific interest - yet they are cryptic, reclusive and not well understood. These special critters are part of the native fauna and a key species we’re committed to protecting during construction of the new 6km section of State Highway 3 in north Taranaki.

Cableway tower takes shape – November 2022

Watch how the first two 28-metre legs of the Mt Messenger Cableway tower were lifted into place on 23 November. The 1.1km cableway will be used to transport workers, machinery and equipment into the heart of the project area for the future 6km bypass. It’s set to be operational in the first quarter of next year and will be able to carry up to 20 tonnes per trip.

Mt Messenger Cableway tower poster [PDF, 5.5 MB]

Project launch event – October 2022

Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass project will deliver numerous benefits for Taranaki—not least to the surrounding forest and native species, as well as to road safety, resilience, and reliability. Associate Transport Minister Kieran McAnulty outlined some of these great outcomes at the project’s official launch event in October 2022.

Starting construction on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass – October 2022

Exciting progress is being made on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass, with concrete being poured for the cableway tower! With progress now underway, this is the critical first step towards a safer, more resilient route in and out of north Taranaki. Take a look at how we're building the 28-metre-tall tower.

The Mt Messenger Cableway

A first for New Zealand roading, the 1.1km Mt Messenger Cableway will allow Waka Kotahi and its partners to start construction of Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass in spring 2022.

Planting on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass

We’re looking forward to starting physical works on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass following the High Court decision confirming consents for the project. Te Ara o Te Ata will increase safety for everyone traveling into and out of North Taranaki, delivering resilience and a better journey—and it'll also bring many environmental benefits.

An extensive and enduring environmental programme is part of our plan, including pest management across 3650ha of forest on either side of the bypass, restoration planting comprising 120,000 native seedlings across 32 hectares, and a further 100,000 native plants along roadsides and embankments.

This component of the project will help us achieve our goal of leaving a lasting legacy in Taranaki, ensuring the project area is left in a better condition than before construction.

Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass – much more than a roading project

Te Ara o Te Ata has been described as an environmental project as much, perhaps more than, a roading project. We’re excited about the major environmental benefits this project will deliver. And we’re grateful for this opportunity to breathe new life into the Mt Messenger bush.

Conceptual flyover of Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass

The bypass is a new 6km route from Uruti to Ahititi that avoids the existing steep, narrow and winding route over Mt Messenger on State Highway 3 in Taranaki. It includes two bridges of approximately 125m and 30m in length, and a 235m tunnel. The route will be lower and less steep than the existing road. A substantial environmental restoration programme is also a key feature of the project.

Mt Messenger Bypass - an introduction

Finding long-tailed bats in North Taranaki

Over the summer of 2018/19 our ecology team searched for long-tailed bats, a critically endangered species, in the Mt Messenger area to locate their maternity roosts (places where mother bats and their young stay). With the help of bat experts, they successfully found over 14 maternity roosts.

Monitoring long-tailed bats is being done to confirm the project’s 3,650ha Pest Management Area (PMA) and its suitability for the habitat of long-tailed bats. The PMA is part of a broader ecological restoration package to mitigate and offset environmental impacts of the project.

Restoring natural diversity – an enduring legacy for Mt Messenger

An extensive and enduring environmental programme is part of the plan to build a bypass of Mt Messenger in North Taranaki. Central to the programme is managing pests over 3,650 hectares of Ngāti Tama rohe.