Route through NZ : Stage 3: Forgotten World Highway – Wellington [MAP + WHAT TO SEE + VIDEO]

Summary of content of this post

Welcome to the third stage of our 21-day super route through New Zealand! In this third stage we drove along one of the most famous roads in New Zealand, the Forgotten World Highway and saw the impressive Mount Taranaki. We ended the day in Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island the next day.

Don’t think that our journey around the northern island ends here, because as you know, our route is circular, and we will still travel it for several days at the end of our journey.

On this stage, where we lost a lot of time because of a strange noise that Justina was making, we did a total of 442 kilometers. If you want to see the previous stage, click here.

NEW ZEALAND GUIDE

If you want to read more information about our route through New Zealand you can find it here: complete guide of New Zealand, how to organize a trip to New Zealand in camper, how to pack for New Zealand, travel from Spain: flights, stops, prices, duration of the trip…

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Here is the video guide for the third stage of our camper van route through New Zealand, in case you don’t feel like reading:

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Detailed tour of the third stage of our route through New Zealand

In the following map, you will be able to see in detail what was our journey in this third stage of our route through New Zealand and also all the interesting points of interest that you will find along the way, including some where you will be able to make a detour if you have time (in light green):

* Remember you can use this map on your mobile so it’s much more useful once you’re there

Just save a copy on your Google Drive and open it on your mobile whenever you need it.*

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We have also prepared this other map with all the points of interest of the third stage of our route through New Zealand so that you can get an idea of what you will find at each point of the route (these are undoubtedly our favourite places):

Recorrido y puntos de interés de la segunda etapa de nuestra ruta por Nueva Zelanda: Forgotten World Highway - WellingonRecorrido y puntos de interés de la segunda etapa de nuestra ruta por Nueva Zelanda: Forgotten World Highway - WellingonRoute and points of interest of the second stage of our route through New Zealand: Forgotten World Highway – Wellingon

You can download HERE the map in high quality to see it better.

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What to see on the route between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington

After a magical day among hobbits and light worms, we continued with our journey through the north island and in this stage we had the first two unexpected events of the trip: there was a part of the Forgotten World Highway cut off so we had to deviate from our planned route and Justina started to make a very strange noise that kept us stopped for a long time (besides, in an area without coverage).

Etapa 2 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Justina empieza a hacer ruidos rarosEtapa 2 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Justina empieza a hacer ruidos rarosStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Justina starts making strange noises

All this delayed us quite a bit (although after a while the noise stopped without us doing anything) and when we got to the Taranaki area we had to give up some of the treks we had planned to set off for Wellington.

We had to do the second part of this stage stopping less than we would have liked as we had to get to Wellington to sleep to catch the ferry to the South Island the next day.

In any case, do not worry, because in the map of this stage we have included all the points of interest that can be visited without any unforeseen events.

Shall we start this third stage?

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: nuestro campsite de la noche anteriorEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: nuestro campsite de la noche anteriorStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: our campsite from the night before

📍Okahukura Scenic Reserve

As I was telling you a little bit above, after leaving behind the wonderful campsite where we slept the night before, we found that the first stretch of the Forgotten World Highway is cut off because of the rains of the previous days.

So we had to take a detour through Matiere and Ohura (going back to Taumarunui and retracing our steps of the previous day), a road also beautiful but full of curves.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Okahukura Scenic ReserveEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Okahukura Scenic ReserveStage 3 via NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Okahukura Scenic ReserveEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Okahukura Scenic ReserveEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Okahukura Scenic ReserveStage 3 via NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Okahukura Scenic Reserve

On this detour along the Ohura Road we cross the Okahukura Scenic Reserve, which is like a jungle in the middle of the really beautiful mountain.

It is true that the detour made us lose quite a lot of time (more than an hour), but the truth is that we were able to enjoy some superb landscapes and in the end it was worth it.

📍Forgotten World Highway ⭐

And just when we thought everything was back to normal after the detour… Justina started making an extremely strange noise (like iron rubbing against something) and we didn’t really know what to do…

Because the truth is that we mechanics have no idea. And to make matters worse, we were also in an area without coverage…

So we lost at least another hour and a half here. Not at all really, because we finally decided to continue in spite of the noise and it ended up disappearing by itself.

*If, like us, you’re going to venture out on the Forgotten World Highway, bear in mind that there are no gas stations along the way, so it’s important that you carry a full tank of gas.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y WellingtonEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y WellingtonStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington

Let’s talk a little bit about the Forgotten World Highway

Once we passed the town of Ohura, which by the way has some super clean public toilets, we rejoined the Forgotten World Highway.

The Forgotten World Highway is one of New Zealand’s most famous roads. It is about 150 kilometers long and links the cities of Taumarunui and Stratford.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y WellingtonEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y WellingtonStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington

And it doesn’t matter what we tell you about it, because State Highway 43, as it’s officially called, is one of the most special roads you’ll ever travel. It’s 14 kilometres unpaved, but even that makes it special.

Vegetation everywhere, gorges between rivers, tunnels of the most peculiar, towns that declared themselves independent republics… In this little piece of New Zealand you will find infinity of places in which it is worth to stop and observe.

Let’s talk below about everything you can see as you travel down the Forgotten World Highway:

📍Tangarakau Gorge ⭐

Without a doubt, this gorge is home to some of the most impressive scenery on our entire New Zealand route. There are some unpaved areas and you’ll have the feeling that you’re travelling to the end of the world, but it’s really worth it.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Tangarakau GorgeEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Tangarakau GorgeStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Tangarakau GorgeEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Tangarakau GorgeEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Tangarakau GorgeStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Tangarakau Gorge

Furthermore, in this area there is a bridge that crosses the Tangarakau River from which there are beautiful views.

📍Hobbit’s Hole

And if you thought that our adventures with Hobbits had ended in Hobbiton, you are quite wrong, for there is room for them on the Forgotten World Highway too.

Once past the Tangarakau River Scenic Reserve, you will find yourself in a curious and dark tunnel.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Hobbit HoleEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Hobbit HoleStage 3 by NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Hobbit Hole

His real name is Moki Tunnel, but everyone knows him as Hobbit’s Hole.

Inside, the road is completely dirt and there is only room for one car.

📍Tahora Scenic Reserve

After crossing this curious hole for hobbits, we return to the mountainous landscape with green mantles that we have been seeing all these days.

And for the next 20 kilometers we’ll be riding the Tahora Scenic Reserve.

📍Whangamomona

Whangamomona is undoubtedly one of the most curious places you will find in your New Zealand adventure.

This small town lost in the middle of nowhere declared itself an independent republic in 1989 because of its disagreements with the surrounding villages.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: WhangamomonaEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: WhangamomonaStage 3 by NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: WhangamomonaEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: WhangamomonaEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: WhangamomonaStage 3 by NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: WhangamomonaEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: WhangamomonaEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: WhangamomonaStage 3 by NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Whangamomona

It has only 40 inhabitants and is made up of a few houses, but there you will find the Whangamomona Hotel, where if you feel like it, apart from having a drink and recharging your batteries, you can put the stamp of this independent and remote republic on your passport.

So Whangamomona is the perfect place for a technical stop, although keep in mind, as I told you a bit above, it doesn’t have a gas station.

📍Awahou Scenic Reserve

The last 60 kilometres of the Forgotten World Highway to Stratford run between curves and green landscapes.

You will also find some interesting viewpoints, such as the Whangamomona Saddle.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Awahou Scenic ReserveEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Awahou Scenic ReserveStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Awahou Scenic ReserveEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Awahou Scenic ReserveEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Awahou Scenic ReserveStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Awahou Scenic Reserve

📍Stratford

And on the last few miles of the Forgotten World Highway, when we are arriving in Stratford, we are surprised by a shy Taranaki, but we see him. And he’s SO impressive… But I’ll tell you about him a little bit further down.

Stratford, besides the end of the Forgotten World Highway, is a perfect place to make a technical stop because it has everything: gas stations, bars, restaurants, supermarkets…

In addition, it is also the perfect base for exploring the surroundings of Mount Taranaki.

📍Taranaki ⭐

This beautiful volcanic cone with an almost perfect shape measures 2,518 meters and is a gift for the eyes when you let yourself be seen through the clouds.

Maori legends claim that the Taranaki travelled from the centre of the island to the east west end after a fight for the love of the Pihanga mountain against the Tongariro. So now we know who won.

Beyond the fantasy that surrounds it, the Taranaki is an impressive and shy mountain that is sometimes extremely difficult to appreciate because of the clouds.

We were lucky enough to be able to see it in full for a few seconds, but we couldn’t capture it on film. This is the most we can teach you.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Monte TaranakiEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Monte TaranakiStage 3 via NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Mount Taranaki

And I warn you right away that it doesn’t do it any justice, because it’s a much more impressive place than this photo conveys.

There are several treks that can be done around the Taranaki, in fact, we had planned a couple of them, but we had to give them up because of all the time we had lost with the detour and Justina’s noise.

You can find more information about all of them here. Best of all, there is something for everyone, from demanding ascents to the top of the mountain, to easier walks around some interesting viewpoints.

So, much to our regret, we set off from here to Wellington to try and get there on time, although we still had a long way to go. And a much less interesting path than the one we had already taken.

If you are going to do a route like ours, you have to be aware that the stretch from Stratford to Wellington is quite hard because the landscapes are quite normal and there is not much to see along the way.

📍Hawera

The town of Hawera is another good place for a technical stop: it has plenty of restaurants and gas stations.

The next few kilometres after Hawera are quite boring and it takes us about an hour to reach the next point of interest on today’s route: Kai Iwi beach.

📍Playa by Kai Iwi

With beautiful black sand and impressive waves, Kai Iwi beach is located a few kilometers before the town of Whanganui.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Playa de Kai IwiEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Playa de Kai IwiStage 3 via NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Kai Iwi Beach

On this road to Wellington there are several cool beaches to see, but due to lack of time we could only stop at this one.

In any case, they are all included in the map in case you have more time than us.

📍Queen Elizabeth Park

From Kai Iwi beach to the next point where we stopped (and not for fun, but for lack of time) we covered 165 kilometers in about two hours. And we arrived at Queen Elizabeth Park just as it was getting dark.

The Queen Elizabeth Park is a huge park with a giant beach included located about 45 kilometers north of the city of Wellington. In fact, from some areas of the beach you can see the southern island.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Queen Elizabeth ParkEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Queen Elizabeth ParkStage 3 via NZ between Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Queen Elizabeth Park

This park, full of wetlands and dunes, is great for sports, coming with animals or riding a bike. In fact, there are a lot of activities available that can be done here. There’s even a tram museum!

Visiting it is completely free and it opens from 8:00 a.m. until sunset (the doors close automatically).

📍Ngati Toa Domain 🛏 ️

According to the original planning of our route, we should have had some time to visit Wellington that day, but in the end we didn’t, so we left the visit to the city for the return trip and went to our ‘accommodation’ for that night.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Ngati Toa DomainEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Ngati Toa DomainStage 3 by NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Ngati Toa Domain

Ngati Toa Domain is a caravan and campers parking area just 20 minutes north of Wellington, so it was perfect for taking the ferry to the South Island early the next day.

*If you have time to spare or would like to make another visit in this third stage, we have left a lot of optional points of interest in the map at the beginning of the post. They are marked in green.

Where to eat on the third stage of the Route through New Zealand

As you know, because we talked about it in the New Zealand guide, we wanted to live 100% the experience of traveling in a camper, so our idea was to do most of the meals in Justina to have total freedom of movement.

So we would go shopping every day or two with everything needed to make sandwiches, salads and other easy things to prepare in the camper, both for breakfast and for lunch and dinner.

However, in this third stage at lunchtime we didn’t feel much like cooking and ended up eating something fast at Hawera’s KFC.

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At dinner time we did make some sandwiches in the camper.

Recommendations for eating in the third stage

Here are some interesting options for eating around the Taranaki, in case you feel like it:

And here are some suggestions on Wellington for dinner:

🛏️ Where to sleep on the third stage of the Route through New Zealand

As we had become fond of sleeping in free or cheap places, we made it one of our big goals for the trip. So tonight we sleep in a free area near Wellington: Ngati Toa Domain.

Etapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Ngati Toa DomainEtapa 3 por NZ entre la Forgotten World Highway y Wellington: Ngati Toa DomainStage 3 by NZ between the Forgotten World Highway and Wellington: Ngati Toa Domain

There aren’t many gaps (we caught the last one), so it would be interesting to get there soon. It’s a nice place, but there’s a big problem: it’s a brutal wind. So it’s not a place to spend the afternoon resting and hanging out. To sleep one night is perfect because it’s free and close to the capital.

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If this about the third stage of our New Zealand Camper Trail has known you little, you should know that we have a group on Facebook about travel to New Zealand in which travelers from around the world participate with their questions and answers related to their travels to this wonderful country. So if you have any questions that we haven’t answered in this post, feel free to stop by and ask your questions – we’ll be happy to help!

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