Sealing SH43, a step towards economic and tourism growth

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Today, the Government announced its intention to fund $9.6m to seal the remaining unsealed section of State Highway 43 (SH43), after a successful application was submitted by Stratford District Council in conjunction with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Stratford District Council has long identified SH43 (known as the Forgotten World Highway) in its current state as a barrier to job creation, economic growth and social inclusion. The application sought funding to seal the 12km unsealed stretch of road through the Tangarakau Gorge. 

The announcement made by Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones has been received by Council with excitement and gratitude.

District Mayor Neil Volzke said sealing this section of the highway is a key enabler to unlocking the district’s and wider Taranaki’s economic and tourism growth potential. 

“Improvements to the highway will remove restrictions for tourists, rental vehicles, camper vans and benefit regular road users,” said Mayor Volzke. 

“We’ve waited a long time for this good news,” he said. “The improvements included in our application can be traced back to the 1960s, when consecutive Stratford mayors advocated for the same improvements, for the same reasons.” 

“Now they can finally be put into action,” he said.

Chief Executive Sven Hanne said, “Together with other PGF projects already committed in Taranaki as well as Ruapehu, the investment in SH43 will be a game changer for the region and trigger a step-change in the contribution tourism makes to Taranaki’s economy.”

“The application made by Council had strong support from iwi, councils and communities in our own and neighbouring regions, and we couldn’t have got it across the line without them,” said Mr Hanne.  

“There has been a lot of work over the years which has been integral to today’s outcome,” said Mr Hanne. “We’re excited to see this finally get started.”

About State Highway 43:
The route links State Highway 3 at Stratford with State Highway 4 at Taumarunui. It is approximately 148km in length and is one of only two sections of unsealed road on New Zealand's North Island State Highway network. 

Well known as the ‘Forgotten World Highway’, SH43 is identified as a ‘back country travel experience’ for visitors to New Zealand. 

The Stratford to Taumarunui Heritage Trail was established in 1990 to give travellers an awareness of the rich and unique history along the route, linking these important Taranaki and Central North Island centres.

The village of Whangamomona is a significant part of the Stratford district that marks the half way point along SH43.  The village has a Historic Places Trust precinct rating, and centres on the iconic Whangamomona Hotel, which provides accommodation and food.  The self-declared ‘Republic of Whangamomona’ is a tourist hot spot that has been growing rapidly.