Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Road worriers

The tarmac beneath the tyres is crucial to spreading money into the regions. Photo / NZME
The tarmac beneath the tyres is crucial to spreading money into the regions. Photo / NZME

In most regards, the dairy industry and the tourism industry - one the departing hero of the Kiwi economy, the other the reigning champ - are vastly different beasts, with vastly different requirements and outcomes.

Where dairying leaves our waterways filthy, tourism needs them clean. Where the dairy boom was built on selling a basic, bulk commodity, tourism rides highest on the big money that comes with high-value, unique experiences.

But one area they have in common is the need for a half-decent system of roads. Both dairy and tourism have for many years been poorly served by New Zealand's shoddy infrastructure. Whether it's a milk tanker or a campervan, the tarmac beneath the tyres is crucial to spreading money into the regions.

State Highway 1 should have a minimum of two lanes from the top of the country to the bottom. Our economy needs visitors to feel safe and comfortable driving into the far-flung reaches of Aotearoa. That doesn't mean every road needs to be immaculately polished, but SH1 should be mint.

This easy cop-out is often cited: Our economy isn't big enough to fund an extensive network of high-quality roads. But we don't need an extensive network - let's just get the main artery right.

The No 8 wire mentality - the embodiment of the wonderful resourcefulness common to both farmers and imaginative tourism operators - sometimes means New Zealanders are happy to simply "make do" when we should be demanding the best.


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- NZ Herald

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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