Forgotten World Highway funding welcomed

Today's announcement of a $9.6m Provincial Growth Fund investment to seal the remaining unsealed section of SH43 has been warmly welcomed by Taranaki's peak regional transport planning body.

“We’re delighted,” says Matt McDonald, Chair of the Taranaki Regional Transport Committee. “We’ve been pushing for this investment for a long time. It will bring worthwhile dividends for the whole region as well as Stratford District, and also for Ruapehu District.”

The highway’s unsealed 12km section traverses remote Tangarakau Gorge.

Today’s announcement by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones acknowledged the Forgotten World Highway’s increasing importance for both tourism and agriculture.

Mr McDonald, a Taranaki Regional Councillor, says this was highlighted in a Council-commissioned report in 2017, which found that traffic volumes increased by nearly 13% between 2012 and 2015, despite the current condition of the highway. “So the improvements can only result in further increases.”

The report said improvements were vital if promising new tourism initiatives in Taranaki and Ruapehu District were to realise their full potential.

It also noted that SH43 is widely used as an alternative route during the regular closures of SH3 north of New Plymouth due to slips, flooding or accidents. This has occurred despite the NZ Transport Agency not promoting it as an alternative.

The Regional Transport Committee includes representatives from all four Taranaki Councils and the NZ Transport Agency. It is administered by the Taranaki Regional Council.