The Taihape-Napier Road runs between Taihape township and State Highway 50 at Omahu. The route is 133.35 km long, 37.3 km of which is unsealed. The route bisects the largest area of the North Island not served by a State Highway, refer the figure following.
Upgrading, sealing and declaration as a State Highway would result in substantial diversion of existing traffic flows from the alternative State Highway routes (Manawatu Gorge and/or Napier Taupo Road). The table below summarises the travel distances and travel times of the alternative routes:
|Route||Distance (km)||Travel Time (min)|
|Via Napier-Taupo Road (SH5)||275||195|
|Via Manawatu Gorge (SH1 & 2)||291||190|
The route is both inter district (connecting Rangitikei and Hastings districts) and inter regional (connecting the Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu-Wanganui regions).
The route has a reputation as a difficult route amongst a significant number of local people and perhaps among those not so local (such as car rental companies and tour operators). The reputation is probably based on what the road was like some decades ago and may not reflect its current condition and certainly doesn’t reflect the condition that the route would be in after the upgrading and sealing is completed.