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 head to Nukunuku Museum - this quirky museum is home to relics from the region's past.
Further on, 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 Whangamōmona, 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.
If you’re in town in January, it might just be the Whangamōmona Republic Day, held to celebrate the republic and to vote in the new president (previous presidents have included a goat, a sheep, and a dog).