While it's only 150 kilometres long, the Forgotten World Highway is a highly memorable driving journey.
Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, the 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.
The Forgotten World Highway can be approached from Stratford or Taumarunui. It wriggles its way over four mountain saddles, through an eerie one-lane tunnel and along a sinuous river gorge. Fifteen kilometres of the road is unsealed gravel, and the only significant settlement on the way is Whangamomona, where the historic hotel is known for its hospitality.
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Just south of the town, the Whangamomona Saddle provides a spectacular view of native beech and podocarp forest. If you have time, park your car and enjoy the three-hour circular walk that begins here.
Before reaching Stratford, there's a side road leading to the evocatively named 'Bridge to Somewhere' (in response to the Whanganui National Park's famous 'Bridge to Nowhere'). The journey to reach the historic bridge take 90 minutes return from Strathmore.
Stratford was named after William Shakespeare’s birthplace, and its street names recognise some of the playwright's best-known characters. The Shakespeare connection is further celebrated with Stratford's glockenspiel clock tower, the only one of its kind in New Zealand. It performs scenes from Romeo and Juliet at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 7pm daily.
Start in Whangamomona
Named by Lonely Planet as a key highlight on the Forgotten World Highway, Whangamomona is a quaint town 45 minutes west of Stratford.
End in Stratford
The town of Stratford looks after hikers, bikers and climbers who plan to venture into Egmont National Park. Mount Taranaki is right next door.
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