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Tangiwai is a rural community in the Ruapehu District of the Manawatu-Wanganui Region of New Zealand's North Island. It is located east of Ohakune and Rangataua and west of Waiouru on State Highway 49.

New Zealand's worst rail accident, the Tangiwai disaster, occurred at Tangiwai on 24 December 1953. The Whangaehu River rail bridge collapsed beneath Wellington-to-Auckland express passenger train. The locomotive and first six carriages derailed into the river, killing 151 people. The subsequent Board of Inquiry found that the accident was caused by the collapse of the tephra dam holding back nearby Mount Ruapehu's crater lake, creating a large lahar in the Whangaehu River, which destroyed one of the bridge piers at Tangiwai only minutes before the train reached the bridge.[1] A memorial has been built at the accident site.

Tirorangi Marae and Rangiteauria meeting house is located in the Tangiwai area.[2] It is a traditional meeting ground of the Ngāti Rangi hapū of Ngāti Rangihaereroa, Ngāti Rangiteauria and Ngāti Tongaiti.[3]


  1. ^ "Christmas lost, Le Cren, John". National Library of New Zealand - natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  3. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.

Coordinates: 39°27′57″S 175°34′35″E / 39.465856°S 175.576329°E / -39.465856; 175.576329