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15 Places You Can’t Miss on the Forgotten World Highway

BackpackerGuide.NZ

Rediscover New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail.

How can you not be intrigued by a road called the “Forgotten World Highway”? It is so called due to the fact that it’s New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail. So whether you’re taking the few hours’ drive or a few days’ bike ride, there’s many reasons worth stopping for on this 155km highway between Stratford and Taumarunui. Find snippets of history in the remnants of forgotten tunnels. Locate old Maori pa sites left from this Maori trading route. There’s even hikes into native forest to give you a taste of how New Zealand was before humans discovered the country.

So when you are backpacking through the North Island of New Zealand, don’t miss the Forgotten Highway 43 on your road trip itinerary. Find out more details about this scenic state highway here.

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1. Taranaki Pioneer Village

This very unique outdoor museum includes around 30 buildings taking you back in time when the pioneers first settled in New Zealand. This is a couple of kilometres away from the beginning of the Forgotten World Highway.

Location: Just before you take the Forgotten World Highway, on State Highway 3 just south of Stratford.

Pioneer Village

2. Strathmore Saddle

The first of four saddles on the Forgotten Highway offers a spectacular view of the volcanoes Tongariro, Ruapehu, Ngaurahoe and Taranaki.

Location: All on the Forgotten World Highway.

3. Makahu Tunnel

This pioneer tunnel was the main access to the Makahu and Puniwhakau valleys in the early 1900s.

Location: About 15km from Stathmore on the Forgotten World Highway, take the road to Makahu then continue on the Upper Mangaehu Road.

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4. Matemateaonga Walkway

“Walkway”?! More like a tough tramp through dense forest to reach the stunning Whanganui River – be prepared.

Location: About 23km from Stathmore on the Forgotten World Highway, take the road to Makahu then continue on the Upper Mangaehu Road.

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5. Bridge to Somewhere

Unlike the Bridge to Nowhere, this bridge leads to somewhere. The bridge is, in its design, very similar to the Bridge to Nowhere that was built around the same time.

Location: From Stathmore on the Forgotten World Highway, take the road to Makahu then continue on the Upper Mangaehu Road for 23km which then turns slightly left and becomes Whangamomona Road, Aotuhia. Here is the Bridge to Somewhere.

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6. Pohokura Saddle

Named after a major Maori chief, the Saddle offers a great vantage view of the lush green valley hidden in between the hills.

Location: Part of the Forgotten World Highway.

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7. Whangamomona

The Republic of Whangamomona is so unique that we gave it its own article. It’s worth going for a new passport stamp!

Location: On the Forgotten World Highway.

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8. Whangamomona Saddle

Before leaving the republic, embark on a 3-hour journey through its history by following the Whangamomona Saddle that was built in the late 1800s by over 250 men living in tents for more than a decade.

Location: On the Forgotten World Highway.

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9. Tahora

The last saddle of the highway overlooks mountains, railway tunnels, and three Maori pa sites.

Location: On the Forgotten World Highway.

Pavel Špindler on Wikipedia

10. Moki Tunnel

The narrow tunnel is commonly known as the “Hobbit’s Hole”, even proudly displaying this name on a sign at the entrance. Look around for fossilised giant crabs.

Location: On the Forgotten World Highway.

BackpackerGuide.NZ

11. Mt Damper Falls

Spare an extra 20 minutes along the way to walk to the North Island’s second highest waterfall, Mt Damper Falls. It looks especially awesome after a rainy night. For more waterfalls worth seeing, check out 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand.

Location: 15km from the Forgotten World Highway along Mokie Road, then Mangapapa Road then Okau Road.

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12. Tangarakau Gorge

The gorge offers a magnificent path through a dense forest unique to the area. This is a traditional New Zealand postcard picture spot. This is also your gravel road section of the “highway”.

Location: On the Forgotten World Highway.

BackpackerGuide.NZ

13. Raekohua Falls & Tangarakau (Ghost Town)

Follow the road to Tangarakau (Ghost Town), stay and the campsite and see this waterfall just off the roadside opposite a small parking area.

Location: Off the Forgotten World Highway down Raekohua Road on the way to Tangarakau.

BackpackerGuide.NZ

14. Te Maire Reserve

This recognisable bridge marks the entrancement of the reserve that can be explored through the many walks available ranging from 30 minutes to 3-4 hours long.

Location: From the Forgotten World Highway, take Paparoa Road to Te Maire Valley Road, signposted “Whanganui National Park, Te Maire”. Follow the road to multiple walking track signs.

Michal Klajban (Hikingisgood.com)

15. Taumarunui

The little town and its railway cafe is where your journey through the Forgotten World Highway will end. Take the time to explore the area and learn more about its Maori history. Taumarunui is part of the Ruapehu district.

Location: The beginning/end of the Forgotten World Highway!

Bgabel on Wikipedia

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