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The Forgotten World Highway

This scenic highway spans approximately 155 kilometers and offers a memorable journey through diverse landscapes, rich history, and a sense of remote adventure. Here's a detailed description of the route from Taumarunui to Stratford.

Begin your unforgettable journey on the Forgotten World Highway in Taumarunui, a small town in the Ruapehu district rich with Māori history and local activities to keep you busy. But remember, it's not just about the destination; it's about the incredible journey you're about to embark on!

The Forgotten World Highway is dotted with noteworthy stops that add to the adventure. It takes you over four mountain saddles, alongside the Tangarakau gorge, and through a 180-meter-long single-lane tunnel. After a 50-year-long construction period, this highway finally opened in 1945.

The Forgotten World Highway Highlights

  1. Taumarunui: Your journey on the Forgotten World Highway begins in Taumarunui, a town situated on the banks of the Whanganui River. Taumarunui is known for its Maori heritage and the historic Taumarunui Railway Station. Before you hit the highway, you might want to explore the town's attractions and grab any supplies you'll need for the trip.

  2. Whanganui River: As you leave Taumarunui, you'll follow the picturesque Whanganui River. The road winds alongside the river, offering stunning views of the waterway and the surrounding countryside. There are numerous opportunities for stops and photo breaks along the way.

  3. The Forgotten World Gardens: Along the highway, you can also visit the Forgotten World Gardens, a hidden gem of natural beauty. These gardens feature a wide variety of plants and are a perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the serene environment. Forgotten World Gardens comprises four magnificent garden spaces situated at Omaka Lodge, Bradley's Garden, To Whenua, and Lauren’s Lavender Farm.

  4. Tangarakau Gorge: One of the standout features of the Forgotten World Highway is the Tangarakau Gorge. This narrow gorge is surrounded by lush native bush, and the road twists and turns as it passes through it. The towering cliffs and dense vegetation create a sense of mystery and adventure.

  5. Strathmore Saddle: You'll ascend to Strathmore Saddle, which offers panoramic views of the rugged landscape and distant mountains. This is a great spot to appreciate the remote beauty of the area.

  6. Moki Tunnel: One of the most intriguing stops along the route is the Moki Tunnel. This disused railway tunnel is an unusual and eerie sight as you drive through it. It's a favorite among photographers and history enthusiasts.

  7. Whangamomona: This quirky little town, known as the Republic of Whangamomona, is an unexpected highlight of the journey. It declared itself a republic in the 1980s, complete with its own president. You can visit the Whangamomona Hotel and even get a passport stamp as a souvenir.

  8. Stratford: Your journey on the Forgotten World Highway concludes in Stratford, a charming town nestled in the heart of Taranaki. Stratford is named after Shakespeare's birthplace and features streets named after characters from his plays. It's a delightful place to explore, with parks, gardens, and a welcoming atmosphere.

The Forgotten World Highway offers a diverse range of experiences, from winding roads through lush forests to fascinating historical sites and quirky towns. Whether you choose to drive the entire route or just a portion of it, you'll be treated to an adventure like no other in New Zealand, filled with natural beauty, mystery, and a sense of stepping back in time. It's a journey that truly captures the spirit of exploration and discovery.