Project introduction

Waka Kotahi is undertaking a programme of improvements to the Forgotten World Highway to increase tourism to the Taranaki region, make the road safer for locals and increase the resilience of the Central North Island’s transport network.

  • Project type

    Road improvements
  • Project status

    Construction

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Road closures through the Tāngarākau Gorge for sealing works: 9 January – March 2024

The following traffic management will be in place through the gorge Monday – Friday:

  • 7am – 8.30am stop/go in place with 15 minute delays
  • 8.30am – 9am road open
  • 9am – 12pm road closed
  • 12pm – 1pm road open
  • 1pm – 3pm road closed to all traffic
  • 3pm – 3.30pm road open
  • 3.30pm – 7pm stop/go in place with 15 minute delays.

Between 9am and 12pm and 1pm and 3pm any through traffic will be stopped by a member of the team at the intersections of Moki Road and Heao Road so they can turn around before they hit the road closure. Residents will be permitted up to the road closure points at all times. Emergency services will be allowed through the road closure when required.

All work will stop between 22 December 2023 and 8 January 2024 and the road will be open at all times.

Background

The Forgotten World Highway is one of New Zealand’s iconic back country journeys and an important link for local communities, farms, businesses, and visitors.

In 2019 Waka Kotahi, with input from stakeholders, developed a business case which recommended a programme of works to improve the access, safety and reliability of the highway. The business case was funded by the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

SH43 sealing the Tāngarākau Gorge

The sealing of the 12km of unsealed road that runs through the Tāngarākau Gorge, along with some minor safety improvements, was one of the key recommendations in the business case.

Following the completion of the business case, Stratford District Council, in conjunction with Waka Kotahi, submitted a successful application for PGF funding for the sealing of the gorge.

Sealing of 2km of highway through the gorge was completed June 2022. Work to seal the remaining 10km is currently underway and is expected to be completed by mid-2025.

NZ Upgrade Programme funded projects

In February 2020, the Government announced funding from the NZ Upgrade Programme for the following projects identified in the business case:

  • Improvements to the Moki Tunnel.
  • A preventative maintenance strategy for the route.
  • New Kahouri Stream Bridge upgrade.
  • Passing opportunities, wayfinding and rest areas.
  • Safety improvements including guardrail, smart signage and upgraded road marking. 

Funding was also committed for a new bridge to be built over a damaged culvert at Pohokura and a culvert replacement at Manawawiri Stream. 

NZ Upgrade projects completed to date

  • New Bridge built at Pohokura, reinstating the road to two lanes.
  • Manawawiri Stream culvert has been replaced.
  • More than 220 safety signs have been installed along the route and hazardous trees removed.
  • Three guardrails have been installed and more are currently in construction.
  • New signage warning people to look out for people on bikes has been erected at the Moki tunnel.
  • Rest areas along the route have been sealed.
  • A preventative maintenance strategy has been completed.
  • The new Kahouri Stream bridge is currently in construction.

Around $30m is being invested in the Forgotten World Highway to make the road safer and more accessible for locals and visitors.

Project benefits

  • Encourage visitor flows from Tongariro National Park through to Egmont National Park.
  • Bring more tourism to the area – currently many vehicle rental companies prohibit travel on unsealed roads.
  • Make the road safer and easier to travel.
  • Help realise the potential economic benefits, and tourism and employment opportunities identified in Taranaki’s strategic tourism plan, Tapuae Roa: Make Way for Taranaki; sealing the gorge is a key priority in the plan.
    Tapuae Roa: Make Way for Taranaki(external link)
  • Contribute an estimated $35m to $45m to the region and create new jobs through increased economic activity.

Waka Kotahi, Kanoa and NZUP logos