We went on this classic kiwi road trip to check out a special inland route between the districts Ruapehu and Taranaki… the State Highway 43, also known as the World Forgotten Highway. To get there, we crossed from Waikato to Waitomo, starting from Lake Taupo. First stop was at Lake Whakamaru for our favorite iced coffee at The Dam Cafe. We continued along SH40/SH4 heading west for the next refreshing stop at the Piopio Berry Orchard.Visit our VentureOut facebook-site to find out, where to get the best ice-cream and coffees along the way.
Taranaki Coast and Samurai Village
In Awakino we filled up the tank and enjoyed vistas of the Tasman Sea. Unfortunately the tide was coming in so we couldn’t go to check out the recently collapsed Elephant Rock on Tongaporutu Beach. Instead we decided to tip our toes in the black sand of Urenui where Bernie used to live. The water was refreshing, the sun was hot, a beautiful summer day! We were next heading for the remote “off road” part of the trip. Before we departed from Urenui, we had to fill the tank right up.
We left civilization behind, when we turned off SH 3 at Uruti Road. Following the Uruti valley and onto the Moki Road. Here you find some tiny buildings and the film location for the movie “The Last Samurai” on your left hand side.
Soon after this photo stop we turned into Kiwi Road. There we drove through some interesting tunnels and we only met one lady chasing her stock along. This is a pretty remote part of the country.
We did not anticipate what happened next… after we passed thru the third and last tunnel, the road ended abruptly. A massive slip prevented us from continuing on Kiwi Road. We had to drive back most of the way and around Mount Messenger to connect with the other end of Kiwi Road on our way to the World Forgotten Highway.
The Republic of Whangamomona
We saw the last rays of the sun when we were on top of the Tahora Saddle. Finally we made it safely to the Republic of Whangamomona just before darkness kicked in. We were also lucky enough to be able to order some food, before we went for a good night sleep at the iconic hotel. The hotel is filled with memories which backdate 100 years ago. Dip into the past and imagine how people’s lives must have been…
The hotel is quite casual and during breakfast the next morning we met some other interesting travelers. Afterwards we had a little stroll through the quirky township. There are some interesting buildings and stories to discover…
We heard some reports about the currently quite muddy state of Whangamomona Road and tried our luck for a bit, while we soaked in the fantastic scenery.
Tangarakau Ghost Town and Gorge
It was time to drive along the World Forgotten Highway and a sunny day welcomed us to enjoy this road trip. We decided to take a 6 km detour and visit the ghost town of Tangarakau. We learnt that two families currently live here and stopped at the former railway station to read the newly installed information boards.
We had to leave, as there was more to discover along the way. A 12 km unsealed road follows after passing the Moki Tunnel and Moki Forest through the breath-taking Tangarakau Gorge. Here you can find the story and grave of Joshua Morgan. The view from the nearby bridge is also worth the stop. The highway continues and offers lots of panoramic views along. From Nevin’s lookout you might see the snow-capped Mount Ruapehu. If you feel like a coffee and/or need a bite to eat before the end of this leg of the trip, call into the picturesque Lauren’s Lavender Farm.
The World Forgotten Highway, SH43, ends at Taumanurui. We had a refreshing generous real fruit ice-cream from the cart near the railway station. Visit the VentureOut facebook-site to find our tips on where to get the best ice-creams and coffees along the way.
On our loop back to Taupo, we continued on SH 41 to Turangi by climbing up the Kuratau Hill. On a clear day you will see the mountains of Tongariro National Park on your right hand site, including the mighty Mount Ruapehu. For even better views, stop at the lookout on the top of the hill. When driving down on the other side of the hill, Lake Taupo comes into view. After you reached Turangi, follow SH 1, along the lake until you reach Taupo.