Forgotten World Highway - Scenic Route - North Island

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Scenic Route

Forgotten World Highway

Scenic Route · Ruapehu
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  • On State Highway 43
    / On State Highway 43
    Photo: itravelNZ® - New Zealand in your pocket™, CC BY,
  • / Forgotten World Highway
    Photo: Pavel Špindler, CC BY, Wikimedia Commons
  • / The hinterland of New Zealand
    Photo: Pavel Špindler, CC BY, Wikimedia Commons
  • / Signpost of Forgotten World Highway
    Photo: itravelNZ® - New Zealand in your pocket™, CC BY,
  • / One of the narrow tunnels along the route
    Photo: Karora, CC BY, Wikimedia Commons
  • / Mount Taranaki
    Photo: Phillip Capper, CC BY,
  • / Tangarakau Bridge
    Photo: Phillip Capper, CC BY, Wikimedia Commons
  • / Egmont National Park
    Photo: Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • / Fraction of Egmont National Park
    Photo: Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • / Mount Taranaki by night
    Photo: Phillip Capper,
  • / Taranaki in the tranquil hinterland
    Photo: Rich Childs, CC BY, Wikimedia Commons
m 400 300 200 100 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 km Egmont-Nationalpark Whangamomona Tangarakau Gorge Mount Taranaki

The north of New Zealand still seems to be a white spot on the map, but that’s exactly what makes this destination so charming, The legendary Forgotten World Highway takes you on a trip to several stunning sights, such as the beautiful Egmont National Park, the breathtaking Tangarakau Gorge - and even to the smallest republic in the world.

149 km
2:12 h
1845 m
1705 m

On about 90 miles of length this scenic route makes you discover the tranquil hinterland of new Zealand’s northern island. It follows the former State Highway 43 from the city of Stratford to the city of Taumarunui. The road was constructed in the late 19th century, but it hasn’t lost none of its charm. Crossing vast areas of unspoiled nature, it offers spectacular views of the hinterland. The scenic road is still pretty untraveled and stops by several distinct locations, such as Whangamomona, one of the smallest republics in the world. The route extends from the city of Stratford to the vast Egmont National Park, with an ever-changing landscape spanning from mountain saddles and impressive gorges to spectacular tunnels. Along the way, you will see from afar the stunning peak of Mount Taranaki, the heart of Egmont National Park. But don’t miss to stop by the route’s hidden treasure: Tangarakau Gorge, a deep and narrow valley with steep sides formed by Tangarakau river.

Author’s recommendation

At the end of the route you should schedule at least half a day for visiting Egmont National Park. It is just a few kilometers from Stratford. User
Wolfgang Paulus
Updated: February 20, 2018

Highest point
345 m
Lowest point
133 m
Best time of year

Safety information

This route includes one-lane tunnels and further narrow passages, so please drive carefully and mind the speed limits.  


You need solid footwear, weatherproof clothing and enough to drink (preferably water). As there are no gas stations or restaurants along the way, you need to refuel beforehand and take a petrol can with you.


Stratford (174 m)
-38.883894, 175.255328
60H 348674 5694661



Turn-by-turn directions

Departing from the city of Taumarunui, we head southwards on State Highway 43 (SH43) alongside Whanganui river. After approximately 20 miles turns southwards, but we continue in western direction. Leaving behind the small town of Aukopae, we cross Whanganui River. After a total of 12 miles we get to the  Tangarakan River. Following it for approximately 7,5 miles, we pass Tangarakan Gorge and continue in southern direction, while the river turns east. After further 3 miles we cross the settlement of Tahora and reach Whangamomona after further 9 miles. Cotinuing on SH43, we cross the small town of Strathmore heading southwest until we reach the city of Stratford. Now we can explore the famous Egmont National Park and Mount Taranaki in the west of the town.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

From the airport of Wellington (WLG) to Stratford via bus line Wellington Airport - New Plymouth (total length: approx. 7 hours).

Getting there

From the airport of Wellington (WLG) to Stratford via State Highway 1 and 3 (total distance: approx. 200 miles).


Along the route there usually aren’t any signposted parking areas, so please inform beforehand about the local parking areas.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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149 km
1845 m
1705 m
In and out Scenic Botanical highlights


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