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Project introduction

A bypass of Mt Messenger on SH3 in northern Taranaki is a key part of a wider programme of work including the Awakino Tunnel Bypass and a suite of safety and resilience improvements between the Awakino Gorge and Mt Messenger.

  • Estimated project cost

    $280 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass aims to deliver a much improved road safety, resilience and journey experience.

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.

It includes two bridges of approximately 125m and 30m 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.

Construction is expected to start in spring 2022 and take approximately 4 years.

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

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.

Watch more videos on the Te Ara o Te Ata project

The project’s environmental programme

Partnering with Ngāti Tama

Estimated project cost Funding source Construction

$280 million

Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme and the National Land Transport Programme

2022 to 2026



The main objectives of the bypass 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 SH3
  • enhance the natural environment – flora and fauna.

Who we are

The Mt Messenger Alliance brings together Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Downer, HEB Construction, Tonkin & Taylor and WSP.

Collectively we bring national and international experience in infrastructure development.

Our team is made up of transport designers, engineers with geometric, geotechnical, structural and construction expertise, RMA planners and environmental specialists including ecologists, landscape architects and stakeholder and communication professionals.

Partnering with Ngāti Tama

Our relationship with Ngāti Tama began in 2016 when we approached them as manawhenua of the rohe surrounding the Mt Messenger section of SH3, to become involved in the project. Ngāti Tama representatives were involved in a two-step assessment process to select preferred options for improving the road.

Our relationship has strengthened over time.

We continue to work closely with Te Rūnanga. In 2020, Ngāti Tama members voted in favour of agreements with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, allowing land needed for the bypass to be exchanged.

More about our partnership with Ngāti Tama