The Ruapehu district is set to benefit from funding of $9.6 million for improvements to the Forgotten World Highway.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced yesterday that the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) would allocate the money to seal the remaining unsealed section of State Highway 43 which runs between Stratford and Taumarunui.
Jones said sealing the 12km gravel section of the highway through Tangarakau Gorge would contribute an estimated $35m to $45m to the region and create 30 to 60 new jobs through increased economic activity.
"Aside from the natural beauty it showcases, it also serves as an important freight route for beef, lamb and dairy businesses, forestry, and the burgeoning local manuka honey industry," Jones said.
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It would also help boost tourism, since many vehicle rental companies do not allow hirers to drive on unsealed roads. Many overseas visitors also expressed safety concerns when driving on this highway, he said.
"The coalition Government has already committed to upgrading the Tongariro Crossing. SH43 is a direct route encouraging a visitor flow from Tongariro National Park through to Egmont National Park, making it easier for more visitors to access a relatively remote part of New Zealand. It is also part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail initiative."
Ruapehu businesses have been affected by a major slip in October that has closed SH4 between Raetihi and Whanganui, and a slip on SH43 that has also restricted access.