New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail is 155kms long. Starting in either Stratford or Taumarunui it follows ancient Māori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks through ambitious historic settlements, untamed native bush and stunning natural scenery. Along the Forgotten World Highway, you’ll encounter a landscape where man and nature have battled for centuries. Whether you approach the Forgotten World Highway as a three-hour scenic drive or explore its many stories over several days, you’ll be treated to an adventure like no other.

Along the route you will cross four saddles – Tahora offers spectacular views of three prominent Māori Pa sites, railway tunnels and the central North Island Mountains. The Whangamomona Saddle offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape with a backdrop of beech and Podocarp forest. The Pohokura Saddle is named after a prominent Māori Chief and provides views into the valley used as a large railway construction campsite. It’s worth stopping at the top of each to take in these stunning vistas. The Strathmore Saddle offers stunning views of both Taranaki Maunga and the Central Plateau. The single-lane 180m long Moki Tunnel was built in 1936 and is known locally as the ‘Hobbit’s Hole’. Home to fossilized giant crabs, the tunnel’s floor was lowered in 1989, increasing the tunnel’s height to 7m to allow access for triple-decked stock trucks. It has a timber gabled roof and hand carved walls. The Tangarakau Gorge offers an incredibly scenic passage through the magnificent podocarp forest that still characterises the region. This section is unsealed for 12kms.

The 185km Forgotten World Highway cycle trail is a spectacular, though challenging, touring route. The trail follows the Forgotten World Highway from Taumarunui to Whangamomona, before turning off at the top of the Pohokura Saddle to follow Junction Road through Purangi and over the Tarata Saddle before joining New Plymouth’s famed Coastal Walkway into the city centre. Best done over two to three  days, the ride includes more than 2,000m of climbing, and supplies are limited along much of the route. Read the NZ Cycle Trails overview before departing. The final resting place of respected early surveyor and trail blazer Joshua Morgan, who died in 1893 at the age of 35, is marked by a memorial and a short walkway through native bush to his grave site. This memorial also remembers the many other pioneers who sought their fortunes in this remote area.

Mt Damper Falls is a 14km detour along Moki Road. Follow the signposts for the 20min walk. At 85m this is the North Island’s second highest waterfall, and is a spectacular sight, particularly after heavy rain. Surrounded by native bush, the falls spill over a papa bluff. Please note – the track is closed to hunters and dogs from 1 August to 31 October due to lambing.

Te Maire track – this two hour walk (rated: easy) starts with a suspension bridge, and loops around a mosaic of native trees including rimu, miro, totara, kahikatea, matai, rewarewa, hinau and tawa.

Te Wera arboretum and camp was an early settlement and is the base for the 6500ha Forest. The former New Zealand Forest Service campsite is still well used, and a number of walks lead from here through the arboretum and forest.

The Purangi Kiwi Project, a 15km detour towards Purangi along Junction Road from the Pohokura Saddle summit, offers two self-guided walks through native bush and forest (0.5 and 2.5 hours). Best experienced in summer, check track status before you go. A donation of $10 per person goes towards the kiwi project.

Lauren’s Lavender Farm and Café, on the Whanganui Riverbank just out of Taumarunui, will treat your senses, particularly during the summer months when in full bloom. Hours vary, so check before you go.

The Bridge to Somewhere is a two-hour return journey from either Whangamōmona or Strathmore. Let Eastern Taranaki Experience make it easy to explore the unique features of the highway and surrounds with their hiking and cycling tours and transportation.

Ride the rails with Forgotten World Adventures. Riding modified golf carts, or purpose built RailBikes, you can zip along through a number of tunnels, over viaducts and through landscape inaccessible by road. A truly unique experience. 

First settled in 1895, the village of Whangamōmona was once a bustling frontier town, with up to 300 residents providing strong service links, roading and rail construction to the hardy farming community. The town experienced a great flood in 1924, but the town didn’t decline to around 20 residents until farm mergers and rationalisation took place in the 1960s. The village has a Historic Places Trust precinct rating, and centres on the iconic Whangamōmona Hotel, which provides refreshments.

Rugby fans might be keen to know that Whangamōmona is the only club in NZ that is allowed to wear an all-black strip – as they had it well before NZ’s All Blacks. The team compete for the Dean Cup – the oldest rugby challenge cup in New Zealand dating back to 1907 and contested between three teams in the district – Whangamōmona, Strathmore and Toko in East Taranaki. Whangamōmona 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 Whangamōmona are available from the Hotel.

12km of the Forgotten World Highway is unsealed road and there are no petrol stations. When in New Zealand, please drive on the left! The Highway traverses four saddles, where the road passes between two summits. Take care driving these features, as they are steep and windy and offer spectacular views.



    • Physical Address
      Stratford, Stratford