24 Hours in the Republic of Whangamomona
We have left New Zealand. That’s right, we are now within the territory of the Republic of Whangamomona! Last night we arrived at the home of the republic, the Whangamomona Hotel and stayed the night in the historical building… all by ourselves.
Not before having a quick drink with our pub lord and host, Richard, in the hotel pub. There isn’t a space on the pub’s walls that is not covered in the town’s history, sporting trophies, community events and notices, or Whangamomona souvenirs. That’s because Whangamomona has some fascinating history, which includes becoming independent of New Zealand.
How one town became a republic
You can get a quick history of today’s quirky location by checking out The Republic of Whangamomona. In short, the town of Whangamomona revolted after local councils decided that some of the town would be part of the Manawatu-Wanganui region when they had always considered themselves part of Taranaki. In 1988, Whangamomona’s solution to this was to become it’s own republic. Since then, they have had five presidents (only two of which have been human) and have held Republic Day every two years.
After a night in the historic hotel, being the only guests they had on this quiet winter’s evening, we wake up to breakfast with the hotel-owner, Richard, whose wife is now the first female president of Whangamomona. (Congratulations to her!) Like any starving backpackers offered free breakfast, we go to town on the yogurt, cereal, fruit, tea and toast!
Walls of history
Having a better look around the hotel, this really reminds Laura of some of the old pubs back in the UK right down to the crazy-patterned carpets. There are old photos displaying Whangamomona’s history years before it ever became a republic! There’s a grand portrait in the stairway of a mysterious bushman who the residents only found out recently who he was. Now they are fundraising in the pub to lay a headstone on his unmarked grave.
Clearly there has always been a real sense of community here in Whangamomona, which is evident still on the community notice board. One of the events hosted in the hotel are for locals to join on a “Wild Food” night where everyone brings a dish of their own “wild” kill. As we talk to Richard, he even knows Simon and Sarah who we stayed with in Tangarakau a couple of nights ago.
Robin pretends to be president
Throughout the whole day we perhaps only see 10 vehicles passing through Whangamomona, some of which was the same guy transporting his sheep. The historical street with grand wooden buildings looks so pretty with the backdrop of rolling green hills. One of our favourite buildings has to be the rustic-looking post office, which, in fact, just had a box outside with mail in it for the whole town: four families, about 18 people. (And one dog and one cat, from what we have seen).
At the head of the town is a wooden throne with a large “W” carved into it, which we can only assume is the president’s throne. Robin has a whale of a time stroking the cat like an evil villain on his throne…
Getting our passports stamped
Before we leave the republic, we have a lunch of toasties, fresh fruit and cheese with the hotel’s managers. Honestly, we are finding it hard to pull ourselves away from this town! Then, for the grand finale… to ensure safe passage throughout the rest of our travels in the Republic, we get our passports stamped! The ultimate souvenir!
Leaving the republic and the Forgotten World Highway
Sadly, we are ending our Forgotten World Highway journey, but not without… That’s right, you guessed it, more stunning views! We are blown away by how high Mt Taranaki stands in its perfect volcanic cone in isolation. We can’t keep our eyes off it, especially since the sun is setting over it. Wow, New Zealand, wow.
We arrive in New Plymouth at nightfall where we are warmly welcomed behind the reception desk of the Ducks & Drakes Backpackers by two border collie dogs. Tomorrow, we start exploring the Taranaki region!
Have a look around the Republic's pub!
Have a look around the Republic's pub!
Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Have a look around the Republic's pub! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
We are here to serve! Check out these articles to get more Forgotten World Highway inspiration!
- The Republic of Whangamomona
- 10 Places You Can’t Miss on the Forgotten World Highway
- Taranaki – Guide for Backpackers
See you tomorrow!