Putting the focus on the Forgotten World Highway
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $400,000 to determine the value of State Highway 43 to Taranaki’s economy, particularly in the tourism sector, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.
The investment into SH43 - better known as the Forgotten World Highway - will occur ahead of a possible multi-million dollar upgrade to the road.
“Connecting Stratford with Taumarunui for about 149km, SH43 is an increasingly popular road trip for visitors,” Shane Jones said.
“It is also an important freight route for beef, lamb and dairy products, a burgeoning local Mānuka honey industry and a number of radiata pine forests, which are due to be harvested in coming years.
“A 12km section of the highway through the Tangarakau Gorge remains unsealed. Sealing this area would boost its value as a link between Taranaki and the central North Island, and could play a role in bringing more visitors to the region.
“With funding committed to upgrading the Taranaki Crossing, an improved SH43 would provide a direct link between that walk and the Tongariro Crossing, and make it easier for more visitors to access a relatively remote part of New Zealand.
“SH43 takes you through some wild and beautiful parts of Taranaki, but it’s not an easy drive, especially for overseas motorists who aren’t used to driving on unsealed roads.
“This preliminary work will identify the likely economic benefits of an improved SH43, and the costs, and assess how upgrading it can ensure SH43 preserves its character as one of New Zealand’s most unique state highways,” Shane Jones said.
While earlier studies have investigated sealing the final 12km, this work will also look into improving resilience and safety on SH43, as well as improving signage, road markings and looking at speed management along the route.