New Zealand State Highway 3

New Zealand State Highway 3

State Highway 3 NZ.svg

State Highway 3
Route information
Maintained by New Zealand Transport Agency
Length: 500 km (300 mi)
Major junctions
North end: State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 at Hamilton
South end: State Highway 2 NZ.svg SH 2 at Woodville
Te Awamutu, Otorohanga, Te Kuiti, New Plymouth, Hawera, Wanganui, Palmerston North
Highway system

New Zealand State Highways
Motorways and Expressways • List • Unused

SH 2 SH 4

State Highway 3 is one of New Zealand's eight national highways. It serves the west coast of the country's North Island and forms a link between State Highway 1 and State Highway 2. Distances are measured from north to south.

For most of its length SH3 is a two-lane single carriageway, with at-grade intersections and property accesses, both in rural and urban areas.



This is the route that SH3 takes in 2007.

Tunnel at the north end of the Awakino Gorge. There is another short tunnel near the top of Mt Messenger

The highway leaves SH1 at Hamilton, and initially heads south through farmland, passing through Te Awamutu. Sections of this stretch of the road are four-laned, but not divided carriageway. From Otorohanga it follows the valley of the Waipa River to Te Kuiti. The road then turns southwest through sparsely settled farmland, crossing several ridges before following the Awakino gorge to reach the coast, which it follows around the North Taranaki Bight. At the Tongaporutu River the highway turns inland to avoid coastal cliffs and climbs over Mount Messenger before descending via the Mimi River valley to return to the coast near Urenui. Bypassing Waitara, it reaches New Plymouth then turns inland, passing to the east of Mount Taranaki via Inglewood, Stratford and Eltham to Hawera.

From Hawera the highway follows the coast of the South Taranaki Bight southeastwards to Patea and Wanganui before meeting State Highway 1 again at Bulls. Highways 1 and 3 share their route for 6 km as they cross the Rangitikei River to Sanson, where Highway 3 continues southeast towards Palmerston North. After crossing the Manawatu River, the route follows its south bank through the Manawatu Gorge to its terminus and junction with State Highway 2 at Woodville in the Wairarapa.

Both the Awakino and Manawatu gorges are prone to closure by slips and rockslides in heavy rain.

Route changes

Construction of a bypass of Bell Block, a satellite town of New Plymouth, was completed in 2010.

State Highway 3 spurs

SH3 has one spur, designated State Highway 3A. This 15.6 km stretch links State Highway 3 just west of Waitara to Inglewood, providing a shortcut and bypass of New Plymouth.

Major Junctions

Territorial authority Location km Destinations Notes
Hamilton City Melville 0 State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1/Thermal Explorer Highway north
(Kahikatea Drive)
SH 3 begins
(Ohaupo Road)
1 State Highway 3 NZ.svg SH 3
(Normandy Ave)
City Centre, Rotorua
to State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1/Thermal Explorer Highway south
Waipa District Hamilton Airport 10 State Highway 21 NZ.svg SH 21
(Airport Road)
Airport, Mystery Creek
Otorohanga District Otorohanga State Highway 31 NZ.svgState Highway 39 NZ.svg SH 31/SH 39
(Te Kanawa Street)
Kawhia, Ngaruawahia
Alternative route to Auckland, bypassing Hamilton
Waitomo District Hangatiki 65 State Highway 37 NZ.svg SH 37
(Waitomo Caves Road)
Waitomo Caves
Te Kuiti 76 State Highway 30 NZ.svg SH 30
(Awakino Road)
Rotorua, Taupo
Eight Mile Junction 88 State Highway 4 NZ.svg SH 4
Taumarunui, National Park
New Plymouth District Brixton 229 State Highway 3a NZ.svg SH 3A
(Mountain Road)
Inglewood, Wanganui
Alternative route to Southern Taranaki, bypassing New Plymouth
New Plymouth 240 State Highway 44 NZ.svg SH 44
(Eliot Street)
State Highway 45 NZ.svg SH 45
(Leach Street/Courtenay Street)
City Centre, Opunake
Inglewood 258 State Highway 3a NZ.svg SH 3A
(Rata Street)
Alternative route to Hamilton, bypassing New Plymouth
Stratford District Stratford 279 State Highway 43 NZ.svg SH 43
(Regan Street)
South Taranaki District Hawera 310 State Highway 45 NZ.svg SH 45
(Surf Highway)
Wanganui District Wanganui 402 Whanganui River
Putiki State Highway 4 NZ.svg SH 4
(Putiki Drive)
City Centre, National Park
Rangitikei District Bulls 445 State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1
(High Street)
SH 1/SH 3 concurrency begins
447 Rangitikei River
Manawatu District
Sanson 450 State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1
(Wellington Road)
SH 1/SH 3 concurrency ends
Newbury 468 State Highway 54 NZ.svg SH 54
(Kairanga Bunnythorpe Road)
Palmerston North City Ashhurst 488 Manawatu River
State Highway 57 NZ.svg SH 57
(Fitzherbert East Road)
Tararua District 495 Manawatu River
Woodville 500 State Highway 2 NZ.svg SH 2/Classic NZ Wine Trail north
(Vogel Street)
SH 3 ends
State Highway 2 NZ.svg SH 2/Classic NZ Wine Trail south
(McLean Street)
Masterton, Wellington

See also

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