The Forgotten World Highway is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. This highly memorable driving journey is remote and mysterious to the extreme. This scenic route winds over four mountain saddles, alongside the spectacular Tangarakau Gorge and passes through the 220-metre-long, single lane, Moki tunnel. It has been ranked as one of the 10 worst roads in New Zealand by the Police. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the world.
The Forgotten World Highway, one of New Zealand's most secluded roads, is 149 kilometres long. It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns. It links Stratford in Taranaki and Taumarunui in the King Country. It’s New Zealand’s oldest touring route, and stretches for 155km from the central plateau of the north island, across to the west coast and the mighty mountain of Taranaki.
The road, New Zealand State Highway 43, explores the ever-changing landscape between Taumarunui and Stratford. The route winds its way across some seriously crinkly landscape, through gorges, tunnels and dense forest. Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, the highway is remote and mysterious to the extreme. The highway goes through some rugged, beautiful countryside. It climbs three saddles, including the Strathmore Saddle, the Whangamomona Saddle and the Tahora Saddle. If you're up for a challenge, the Forgotten World Highway is a drive to remember.
The journey is so called due to the fact that it’s New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail. It includes some narrow sections. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. State Highway 43 has been ranked as one of the 10 worst roads in New Zealand by the Police. This bad record is because of the slippery gravel surface in the Tangarakau Gorge, however this is not scheduled to be sealed because of the low traffic volume.
The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! There are many excellent photo opportunities. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! The route isn’t too far, and could be done in three or four hours, but with all the places you’ll want to visit on the way, it’s recommended giving this one a couple of days with a nights stop over in the middle. On the way you will have the chance to take in the north islands highest waterfall, a town which has formed it’s own republic, and the remarkable Tangarakau Gorge.
The road is mostly asphalted. It’s slippery when wet. This is an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. 4 km northeast of is the Moki Tunnel, also known as Hobbit's Hole. Hand-carved by pickaxes, the tunnel is a 200 metre-long adventure that'll quickly make the kids forget their carsickness. You emerge from the tunnel to the scenic delights of the Tangarakau Gorge, where the tarseal surface becomes gravel road for about 15 kilometres, encouraging you to slow down and enjoy the lush bush views and the spectacular rapids of the headwaters of the Tangarakau River. The road through the gorge is not sealed.