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Project introduction

There’s been a high number of crashes on State Highway 3 (SH3) between Waitara and Bell Block so we’ll be making some changes to help save lives. Over the next few years we’ll build roundabouts at high-risk intersections along the route and add sections of median barrier.

  • Estimated project cost

    $82 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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Stormwater works and detour through Waitara

Detour through Waitara to remain in place until September/October 2022

Earlier this year Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency began work to install a 760m stormwater pipe along SH3 from Manukorihi soccer fields to Princess Street. The new stormwater pipe will address flooding issues around Princess and Rahiri streets in addition to carrying stormwater runoff from the new roundabout at the Princess Street/SH3 Intersection once it’s built.

Additional pipe is now being installed to the stormwater discharge location near the border of the Manukorihi soccer fields adjacent to State Highway 3. All northbound vehicles except trucks will continue to detour through Waitara until September/October 2022 to enable this work to be completed.

Northbound freight continues to use SH3 under stop/go traffic lights to avoid potential safety issues associated with large vehicles travelling through Waitara.

Help us keep things moving

  • Only trucks are permitted to use State Highway 3 when travelling north.
  • The detour only adds about 6 minutes to journeys. Taking the highway does not save time and cars, utes, vans and motorcycles in the queue can cause big delays for both north and southbound traffic.

Waka Kotahi thanks the Waitara community for its patience and cooperation while this work is completed.

Comments, questions, and complaints

During the works, the detour route will be managed by Waka Kotahi. To provide feedback, ask questions or report any issues about the detour route or the state highway please get in touch using the contact details below. 

Phone: 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)


Project update

Roundabout concepts for high-risk intersections at Princess Street, Waitara Road, SH3A (Mountain Road) and De Havilland Drive/Airport Drive were recently refined to speed up construction.

This process was undertaken after investigations identified it would take a number of years to progress the roundabouts developed in 2018 to construction due to significant land, stormwater and costs associated with them.

An additional $53M in funding has now been secured to deliver the project and construction of the Princess Street roundabout is expected to commence in the 21/22 summer construction season, dependant on obtaining consents and land.

The community will have an opportunity to discuss the concepts and provide feedback at drop-in information sessions in the coming months.


State Highway 3 is an important connection between New Plymouth, Waitara and beyond. It connects the Taranaki and Waikato regions, providing an important link for Port Taranaki, the New Plymouth Airport and major industries to the rest of the upper North Island.

Busy intersections, speed and roadside hazards like power poles and ditches cause safety issues on the road. There were 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 people were seriously injured.

Many of these crashes happened at intersections or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, power poles and deep ditches. There have also been head-on and side-on crashes.

Traffic is increasing on this part of SH3 which is causing delays, particularly for commuters. Anticipated residential and business growth in the area is expected to increase traffic which will create more congestion and make it difficult for drivers to get on the highway.

Following engagement with key stakeholders and the community, early safety improvements were carried out in February 2019. Further improvements including wide centrelines were implemented early 2021.

SH3 Waitara to Bell Block speed review

Following public consultation new safer speed limits were implemented  on this stretch of road in December 2020, making the speed limit a consistent 80km along the entire route.

Roundabout concepts