Project introduction

Te Ara o Te Ata – Mt Messenger Bypass is a new 6km route that avoids the existing steep, narrow and winding route over Mt Messenger on State Highway 3 in North Taranaki.

  • Estimated project cost

    $280 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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Project overview

Te Ara o Te Ata – Mt Messenger Bypass aims to deliver a much improved road safety, resilience and journey experience. The bypass is a new 6km route from Uruti to Ahititi that avoids the existing steep, narrow and winding route over Mt Messenger on State Highway 3.

It includes two bridges of approximately 125m and 30m length, and a 235m tunnel. The route will be lower and less steep than the existing road.

A substantial environmental restoration programme is also a key feature of the project.

Construction is underway and is expected to take approximately four years.

Te Ara o Te Ata – Mt Messenger project booklet – Autumn 2024 [PDF, 11 MB]

Driving the Mt Messenger Bypass

Conceptual flyover of Te Ara o Te Ata – Mt Messenger Bypass

Estimated project cost Funding source Stage

$280 million

Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme and the National Land Transport Programme


  • Benefits

    The main objectives of the bypass are to:

    • reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries from crashes
    • reduce the number and duration of road closures
    • improve journey time predictability
    • improve drivers’ experience along SH3
    • enhance the natural environment – flora and fauna.
  • Who we are

    The Mt Messenger Alliance brings together Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Downer, HEB Construction, Tonkin & Taylor and WSP.

    Collectively we bring national and international experience in infrastructure development.

    Our team is made up of transport designers, engineers with geometric, geotechnical, structural and construction expertise, RMA planners and environmental specialists including ecologists, landscape architects and stakeholder and communication professionals.

  • Partnering with Ngāti Tama

    Our relationship with Ngāti Tama began in 2016 when we approached them as manawhenua of the rohe surrounding the Mt Messenger section of SH3, to become involved in the project. Ngāti Tama representatives were involved in a two-step assessment process to select preferred options for improving the road.

    Our relationship has strengthened over time.

    We continue to work closely with Te Rūnanga. In 2020, Ngāti Tama members voted in favour of agreements with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, allowing land needed for the bypass to be exchanged.

    More about our partnership with Ngāti Tama