New details have been released of the new Manawatū Tararua Highway.

Norsewood's Kathryn Mulinder spends a lot of time on the road as a driver with our St John Health Shuttle service, so the unveiling of further plans are fantastic, she says.

"It's bloody awesome and the sooner the better," she said at an open evening in Dannevirke on Wednesday night.

"[Health shuttle staff] are affected a lot by the closure of the Manawatū Gorge, but the new highway is going to be wonderful and I've full faith in NZTA to do the job right."

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Mulinder's sentiments on NZ Transport Agency's latest map and video flyover presentation were echoed by many in Dannevirke.

Sylvia Peffers, left, Barbara Ferguson and Malcolm Peffers are shown the proposed new route of the Manawatū Tararua Highway project. Photo / Christine McKay
Sylvia Peffers, left, Barbara Ferguson and Malcolm Peffers are shown the proposed new route of the Manawatū Tararua Highway project. Photo / Christine McKay

"It's fantastic," Dave Harris said.

And Stalky Law said it was interesting to see the safety measures NZTA will put into the new highway.

For Letitcia Jarrett, principal planner for the project, the new proposed access route is "quite exciting".

Mulinder said she was over the "what ifs" and had found the NZTA very communicative, honest and open about plans and progress.

"I personally feel safer driving the Saddle Rd, than I did at times driving through the gorge and, until they get the new highway, I'm quite content with putting up with the inconvenience," she said.

An aerial view of the proposed new Manawatu Tararua Highway to replace State Highway 3 through the gorge.
An aerial view of the proposed new Manawatu Tararua Highway to replace State Highway 3 through the gorge.

NZTA has identified some historic sites of significance it will need to work around.

These include the cemeteries near Ashhurst and Woodville, a grove of karaka trees, several pā along the river and the historic road and rail corridors.

It's possible more sites of cultural significance could be found, such as storage pits, burial sites, 19th century homesteads or historic industrial sites.

"While we must build a new state highway through this corridor for a variety of environmental, economic and social reasons, we are committed to preserving our history in the region as best we can," NZTA said in a brochure prepared for the public meetings.

And Jarrett said the new highway would increase access to views, with possible access to the river, viewing points and lookouts and enhancements to the Manawatū Gorge Reserve.