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Coromandel highway reaches 50th birthday

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/03/2017

On a wet day 50 years ago, a 29km state highway across the Coromandel Peninsula road was opened, and it "changed the lives" of people who travelled in the area.

SH25A, or the Kopu-Hikuai Rd, was opened on March 23, 1967.

NZ Transport Agency highway manager Niclas Johansson says it provided a route between Thames and the east coast, and connected the towns of Tairua and Hikuai.

"It changed the lives of those travelling across the peninsula," he said.

"Routes like this, which provide access between what would have otherwise been isolated townships, are a key driver in helping shape growth and development and opening up access to jobs, education and services."

Tairua and Hikuai were founded on gold, kauri timber and gum, and what became SH25A began as a foot track.

By the 1930s, the track had received its first coat of metal, but flooding and slips meant children would choose to get to school on horseback rather than use a thick, muddy road.

Construction of the highway began in 1958 at the Hikuai end and, when it was finished in 1967, it included seven bridges.

The road was eventually sealed six years later.

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