The Forgotten World Highway may be forgotten no more with today's announcement of a $400,000 investment announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in New Plymouth today.
Mr Jones, along with Under Secretary Fletcher Tebuteau and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today provided details of a new project called "Tapuae Roa: Make Way for Taranaki Action Plan".
As well as the proposed investment into SH43, investment was also announced in a range of other Taranaki projects.
These include an investment of $5,000,000 in the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary and $13,340,000 to go to the Taranaki Crossing Experience.
The investment into SH43 - better known as the Forgotten World Highway - will occur ahead of a possible multi-million dollar upgrade to the road.
"Connecting Stratford with Taumarunui for about 149km, SH43 is an increasingly popular road trip for visitors," Shane Jones said.
"It is also an important freight route for beef, lamb and dairy products, a burgeoning local Mānuka honey industry and a number of radiata pine forests, which are due to be harvested in coming years.
"A 12km section of the highway through the Tangarakau Gorge remains unsealed. Sealing this area would boost its value as a link between Taranaki and the central North Island, and could play a role in bringing more visitors to the region.
"SH43 takes you through some wild and beautiful parts of Taranaki, but it's not an easy drive, especially for overseas motorists who aren't used to driving on unsealed roads.
"This preliminary work will identify the likely economic benefits of an improved SH43, and the costs, and assess how upgrading it can ensure SH43 preserves its character as one of New Zealand's most unique state highways," Shane Jones said.
While earlier studies have investigated sealing the final 12km, this work will also look into improving resilience and safety on SH43, as well as improving signage, road markings and looking at speed management along the route.
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will also commit up to $13.3 million to investigate and support the Mounga ki Moana Taranaki Crossing project, a major new investment for the region, including the National Park.
A proposed series of track upgrades under the crossing project would create a variety of short walks to help increase the length of visitors' stays in the region.
"The proposed Crossing concept would create a 41-kilometre "Mounga to Moana" walking experience offering a range of one-day walks from Dawson Falls via the North Egmont Visitor's Centre, Pouakai Range and Pukeiti Gardens to Oakura Beach.
"It will help to unlock Taranaki's tourism potential by creating a range of outstanding visitor experiences, just a short drive from New Plymouth or Stratford," said Mr Jones.
The Cathedral Church of St Mary will benefit from an investment of up to $5 million to help transform the heritage icon into a nationally significant tourist drawcard, Mr Jones said.
He said the region has identified the Cathedral Project as one of its key priorities in the action plan and has plans above and beyond restoring the building.
Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary: $5,000,000
Taranaki Crossing Experience: $13,340,000
New Energy Development Centre – business case: $100,000
H2 Taranaki Hydrogen Road Map: $50,000
Future Foods – Taranaki Hill Country initiative: $250,000
Future Foods – Major Food Opportunities: $125,000
Future Foods – Food Network: $50,000
Taranaki Innovation Precincts:$100,000
Māori Education and Enterprise Stocktake:$100,000
Tapuae Roa Support : $210,000