Lake Waikaremoana — one of New Zealand's beauties.

A popular tourist spot and for many, a place of deep spirituality.

But to get there, motorists not only have to navigate a narrow road and tight bends, but pot-holes and corrugation, too.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says: "It's pretty bad on the locals and on our tourists."


The gravel road's condition deteriorates each time there's a decent downpour.

Mr Little says it's been frustrating trying to get State Highway 38 to be sealed.

"You will be amazed at a lot of people who go up there for half a [kilometre] or so and turn around, and think, bugger this we don't want to travel on this road."

"If you're not used to a shingle road it's like driving on marbles."

And, for some tourists, visiting Lake Waikaremoana can be out of the question all together.

"If you get a rental vehicle, whether it's a rental van, rental car, you can't drive on that road, you don't have insurance, you're not covered."

Wairoa District Council is responsible for maintaining the highway in its current state, but is not allowed to go ahead and seal it.

"It's a state highway so it will be from the NZ Transit Authority funds to get it sealed, but I believe we can do a lot of that under the existing maintenance budget, it's not going to cost anymore," the Mayor says.

Waikaremoana Tribal Authority Chairman Lance Winitana says the iwi is in discussion with others to look at ways of bettering the road for manuhiri.

The NZ Transport Agency is working with key stakeholders on a business case for the entire route between Wairoa and Murupara.

Director Regional Relationships, Parekawhia McLean says she knows unsealed roads can be frustrating, but is ensuring all parties are included in the process.

More is expected to be known about the plan later this year.

"I've got to say NZTA are really trying their hardest within their means to have the same outcome as us- the seal," Mr Little says.

Local Focus spoke to Wairoa locals last October who petitioned to have Kiwi Rd, a residential road, tar-sealed.

Mr Little says getting State Highway 38 sealed could get the ball rolling for other gravel roads in the district.

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