State Highway 52 is a former state highway now reclassified Route 52. It runs from Waipukurau, Central Hawkes Bay, to Masterton in the Wairarapa through Porangahau on the east coast and the Weber and Pongaroa hill country on the lower eastern side of the North Island.
Route 52, upgraded to a State Highway about 1960, lost its state highway status because usage did not grow but fell away as prosperity deserted New Zealand’s farming industry. Farmers shed staff and cut back development. Farming districts became depopulated and the intervening settlements failed to grow. Nevertheless, Route 52 remains the only road access to large areas of highly productive hill country farmland.
Once serviced by coastal steamers remote areas like Akitio and Herbertville are accessed through Route 52’s links to State Highway 2.
Because of its scenic qualities it is now a cycle touring route and noted by some as one of the must drive roads in New Zealand. The road is relatively narrow and winds through steep hill country. Wandering livestock and stock trucks are hazards.
Route 52 leaves Waipukurau at its intersection with SH 2. From there it passes through numerous small farm settlements. Heading south-east the highway goes to the coastline at Porangahau through Wanstead and Wallingford where it turns back inland in a SSW direction. From there it passes through Weber, Waione, Pongaroa, and Tiraumea before heading west to Alfredton. From Alfredton it heads in more southerly direction to Ihuraua along Whangaehu Valley Road to Lansdowne, Masterton.