Taupō Airport is to be upgraded and expanded through a $5.9 million Government funding boost.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the investment today.

Jones said Taupō Airport was the gateway to the Central North Island.

"It is essential for both keeping local people and businesses connected, but also to bring more people to the region.

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"The airport's current infrastructure limits tourism and growth opportunities. Visitor numbers to the region are growing at a rate of 15 per cent a year. A modern and comfortable airport will grow these numbers, and the regional economy, even further," he said.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, left, Taupō district mayor David Trewavas and Taupō Airport Authority chairman Chris Johnston. Photo / Laurilee McMichael
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, left, Taupō district mayor David Trewavas and Taupō Airport Authority chairman Chris Johnston. Photo / Laurilee McMichael

The project will modernise the Taupō Airport terminal, extend the car park and upgrade the runway apron.

"These changes will enable larger planes and more travellers to be accommodated at the airport. "They will also have positive flow-on effects for communities, businesses, and whānau across the central North Island," Jones said.

The upgrade is also expected to create 60 jobs during construction.

"From Kerikeri to Invercargill, we are keeping regions connected through careful and considered investments in airports. It gives a boost to so many sectors and I'm pleased to be announcing this great news for Taupō today."

The $5.87m funding is made up of $5m from the Provincial Growth Fund and $870,000 from central Government.

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Taupō District mayor David Trewavas welcomed today's announcement.

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"This investment is a huge step forward for us and one which is essential to this district's growth and prosperity. I am so pleased the Government is backing the future of our airport and has the confidence in our district to invest here.

"We might be small, but we have big aspirations, and our airport – as a key gateway to the Central North Island and the Central Plateau - is a vital part of that. Importantly, this investment will complement other major investments central and local government has made here including the Sky Waka Gondola at Whakapapa," Trewavas said.

The upgrade would allow bigger planes and larger numbers of passengers to be accommodated.

"For local businesses, it will open more doors for growth and expansion and just as importantly, it will allow us to welcome the growing number of tourists every year," Trewavas said.

"There really is no better time to ensure we have the necessary capacity to facilitate this growth."

The project is expected to begin in March 2020 and be complete by October 2021.