3 Days

150 km


  • Whangamomona
  • Tahora Saddle
  • Mount Damper Falls



Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, Forgotten World Highway is remote and mysterious to the extreme.

"A bit upsy downsy" is how one local resident puts it - a classic New Zealand understatement to describe a road that hugs the rugged contours of the land to provide a natural roller coaster experience.

Day 1: Taumarunui

Lauren's Lavender Farm, Taumarunui, Ruapehu


Tussocky desert, rivers, lakes and volcanic cones


  • Visit a working lavender farm
  • Explore Whanganui National Park
  • Forgotten World Adventures


Three huge volcanoes rise from a desert landscape.

Read more

Begin your journey in Taumarunui. Positioned at the junction of two major rivers, the town is a mecca for trout fishing, kayaking and jet boating. It's also the launch pad for canoe adventures into Whanganui National Park, including the 5-day Whanganui Journey.

Railways are another theme of this region. For a truly unique experience, travel into the wilderness on a self-drive rail cart with Forgotten World Adventures. Other activities include teeing off at Taumarunui Golf Club, visiting friendly alpacas, or riding the Timber Trail, one of the North Island's best cycle rides.

Day 2: Taumarunui to Whangamomona

Whangamomona Hotel, Whanganui


A mighty river and forgotten landscapes.


  • Quirky local museums
  • Mount Damper Falls
  • Historic 180-metre Moki Tunnel


  • by car:

    1 h 15 min | 88 km via SH43

Not far from Taumarunui, you'll pass Lauren's Lavender Farm, stop here for sweetly scented gifts and a wander through tranquil lavender fields. Or follow the sign from Aukopae Landing to Nukunuku Museum. This quirky museum is home to an eclectic jumble of relics from the region's past. 

Further on, you might like to take a detour along Moki Forest Road to Mount Damper Falls - an 85m tumble of pristine water. The road continues on through the historic and very narrow Moki Tunnel. From here it's a short drive to Whangamomona, where you spend the night. This character-filled settlement declared itself a republic in 1989, and you can pick up a passport from the local hotel. 

Day 3: Whangamomona to Stratford

Stratford Glockenspiel, Taranaki


World-class surfing and a perfect volcanic cone.


  • Walking and hiking around Mt Taranaki
  • Bridge to somewhere
  • Stratford's glockenspiel clock tower


  • by car:

    45 min | 62 km via SH43

As you continue your journey south, be sure to stop at the Whangamomona Saddle for spectacular views in every direction. If you have time, the three-hour circular walk that begins here is well worth the trip.

At Strathmore, there's a 90-minute return side trip leading to the evocatively named 'Bridge to Somewhere' (a response to the famous 'Bridge to Nowhere' from the same period).

Stratford was named after William Shakespeare’s birthplace, and its street names recognise some of the playwright's best-known characters. Stratford's glockenspiel clock tower celebrates the connection with scenes from Romeo and Juliet, performed four times daily.

View the route below

You may also be interested in...