Stratford is the only town in the Stratford District. The township lies beneath the eastern slopes of Mt Taranaki and has a population of 5,740. The greater Stratford District is made up of rural areas and has a total population of 9,510. Stratford is in the centre of Taranaki and is halfway between New Plymouth and Hawera.
Pembroke Road runs from the Stratford township and winds all the way up through Egmont National Park to a lookout and carpark known as the Stratford Plateau, at an altitude of 1,172 metres. A number of walks and hikes can be accessed from there, including a short hike to the Manganui Ski Field. There’s also the Stratford Mountain House, a restaurant and bar.
Manaia Road is another road that runs up the the mountain. It winds all the way up to the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre and Konini Lodge at 890 metres, which includes a cafe. The popular Dawson Falls waterfall can be accessed via a short hike, as well as the natural Wilkies Pools and a range of other walks and hikes.
Stratford is located at the junction of State Highway 43 (The Forgotten World Highway) and State Highway 3. The Stratford District takes up about a quarter of the land area of the Taranaki region.
The four main geological features it contains are the Taranaki volcanic cone, the Taranaki volcanic ring plain, the Patea River, and the eastern hill country.
There are a number of settlements and small villages surrounding the Stratford township, including Midhirst and Eltham.
The Stratford township is a rural service centre, serving the agricultural economy of the wider Stratford District.
The population of the district peaked in 1961 at 11,300 has fluctuated between 5229 (2001) and 5664 (1996) up until 2000.
Since 2000, Stratford has seen significant economic growth and some associated population growth in the town. As of the 2013 census, the population of the district was 8,988 (5,466 in the township and 3522 in the surrounding areas). The 2006 census was the first time that the town had recorded population growth since the 1991 census.
Rural Stratford is some of the best dairy country in New Zealand due to fertile volcanic soil, a steady contour from the Egmont Ring Plain and high levels of rainfall. The Stratford District is mostly dairying with 57,300 dairy cattle.
The rolling and steep eastern hill country of Stratford supports forestry and dry-stock farming with 42,000 beef cattle and 281,300 sheep.
Tourism is of growing significance to Stratford, while the energy industry also plays a part in the local economy, with the Stratford Power Station located 3km east of the town.
There are 2 secondary schools in Stratford:
• Stratford High School, opened in 1897, is a coeducational school for years 9 to 13 with a roll of 516 and a decile rating of 4.
• St Mary’s Diocesan School, founded in 1914, is a state integrated Anglican girls’ school for years 9 to 13 with a roll of 159 and a decile rating of 6.
There are 3 primary schools within the Stratford township:
• Stratford Primary School, founded in 1882, has a roll of 405 and a decile rating of 4.
• Avon School has a roll of 59 and a decile rating of 1.
• St Joseph’s School is a state-integrated catholic school with a roll of 232 and a decile rating of 6.
There are also 7 primary schools in the surrounding Stratford District.
The nearest technical college is the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT), located in New Plymouth, a 30 minute drive from Stratford.