We drove the 'Forgotten World Highway" from Stratford, near New Plymouth, to Taumarunui.
One thing I must tell you, is to allow plenty of time, it was 155kms, but took us 3.5hours for the journey.
The Highway follows ancient Maori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks, through historic settlements, bush and stunning natural scenery.
We stopped at quite a few points along the way, not all of them as there are more than 30 historic or natural points of interest.
We wondered how many people did this route, as we probably only met one other car, few people, houses or towns, all were far apart.
Doing this route, was a bit like a modern day adventure!
Remember to fill your car with petrol before leaving, unless there is now, there weren't any petrol stations on the route.
12kms of the route is on Gravel road.
SCENIC & INTERESTING!
Depart from Regan street in Stratford.
Another stop on the route was at the Gorge, pretty with crystal clear running water, podocarp forest including beautiful Tree ferns.
The signposted boundary between Stratford and Ruapehu Districts is in the gorge which was mined in several locations for coal.
This is the last sight I have a photo of, we saw plenty of outstanding scenery on the drive!
Whangamomona [Historic place] - Valley of Plenty- Settled in 1895.
It was hard to imagine that back in those days, Whangamomona was a frontier town of 300 residents, providing strong service links to the farmers trying to make a living from the nearby bush
The town experienced a great flood in 1924, but farm mergers and rationalisation of
the 1960s put paid to the township’s expansion, and its population has since declined to around 30 residents. What we could see of the town, was the Whangamomona Hotel is now the focal point, you can have a meal there, or stay in their accommodation.
Whangamomona declared itself a republic in 1989, complete with its own
presidential election. The famous Republic Day is held biennially in January
and is enjoyed by thousands of visitors.
Passports to the Republic of Whangamomona are available from the Hotel.
There is a memorial to Alice King just north of the town, recognising the hardships faced by this farmer and mother, who raised one of the first seven families to settle the area in the 1890s. Alice’s grave site is marked over the river by a stainless steel cross.
To reach the Makahu tunnel, we had to do a slight detour, turning into Brewer road, and travelling a short distance to reach it.
This Tunnel was quite interesting. It is old, it is in good condition, and it is different to modern tunnels of today. When we saw the entrance (see photo) we wondered if we would be able to fit through in our Camper Van!
The first road to Makahu which was nothing more than a pack track, was widened in 1902 to become a dray road, and the Mangaehu River was bridged.
When the Makahu Co-operative Dairy Factory began producing butter a few years later, it was time to make the access even better to carry the produce out.
The idea of the tunnel met with opposition, as the people in the area, said that the tunnel was being built too high up the hill. It went ahead, and everybody was pleased, it cut 3km off the journey's length.
So in 1907, it all began with men using pick, shovel and explosives to blast and build the Makahu Tunnel. It was constructed of wood and lined with timber, which eventually rotted at the Makahu end and collapsed in 1919.
It was then repaired and lined with concrete - in the form of pillars. Still in use today, strong-walled and perfectly shaped, the Makahu Tunnel is worth the detour to have a look at.
The road the tunnel is located, gives access to the Makahu and Puniwhakau Valleys and a large tract of the Whanganui National Park. Surrounding the tunnel is the Kirai Scenic Reserve.
The Strathmore Saddle, and this was our 1st stop on the route, and it happened to be the first of four natural saddles along the Highway. The views were fantastic, could see Mt Taranaki, Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngaurahoe Mountains.
The saddle lies close to a fault line and surrounding hills display fossilized shell outcrops dating back to when this land lay at the ocean floor.