Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced that the Provincial Growth Fund will invest $9.6 million to seal the final unsealed section of State Highway 43 from Stratford to Taumarunui.
The Minister said sealing the 12-kilometre gravel section of the highway – also called the “Forgotten World 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,” Minister Jones said.
The Minister said the move would help the region transition away from its reliance on dairy and oil and gas.
"There is a need to diversify the region's economy and remove the risk of reliance on these industries, both of which have recently experienced downturns. Sealing the last piece of SH43 is an important step towards this."
It would also help boost tourism, since many vehicle rental companies do not allow hirers to drive on unsealed roads. Many overseas visitors also express safety concerns when driving on this highway, Minister Jones said.
The investment will be welcome news for business owners on the route who are currently suffering from the road being closed due to a major slip.