A Waikato town's bid to get its name on the map is proving an uphill battle as it struggles to convince the national transport authority it is a tourist destination.

Te Aroha Business Association wants a large tourist sign to the historic spa town put up on the Tatuanui intersection of SH25 and SH26.

The association has gained significant community and some international support for the sign, including a petition with 2000 signatures, but is still unable to convince the New Zealand Transport Agency to reverse its earlier rulings that the town did not meet the criteria.

The petition will now be sent to NZTA bosses and the tourism and transport ministers.

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NZTA Waikato/Bay of Plenty state highway manager Kaye Clark said signage at intersections was kept to a minimum to avoid distracting motorists.

"Destination signs at intersections are solely about telling the motorist the direction and location of a town, using the minimum amount of text."

NZTA had met the Te Aroha Business Association to explain its position which included the hot springs being further than 5km away from where they wanted the sign.

But business association president Shaun O'Neill said there was no good reason not to put up the sign.

Mr O'Neill said special tourist signs were given to major tourist destinations and Te Aroha met this criterion because of its historic spa site. "I really think they just haven't given it due consideration ..."

In the meantime, NZTA has suggested the business association work with the local council to look for other signage opportunities away from the state highway.

Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe said the council supported the initial application and any promotional signs for Te Aroha would be a good thing if the rules allowed it.