DAY 15 HAWERA to MOTUOAPA on Lake Taupo via The Forgotten World Highway

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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Taumarunui
February 15th 2023
Published: February 16th 2023
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Sky on fire!
We closed-up shop last night with the sky “on fire”.

We reopened this morning to clear sky and the sun shining.

The road conditions, opened or closed, for the route we planned to take, were checked. All good, even though there had been numerous rockfalls, landslides, washaways and fallen trees, all of which had been cleared from the main thoroughfare. We came across all of them with workmen still in attendance.

Before leaving Hawera we explored it a little. A very clean, well ordered town with all the facilities one would need in this modern age. However, we both wanted to hit the road and experience The Forgotten World Highway. With Mt Taranaki/Mt Egmont clearly on our left we headed for Stratford and the beginning of Highway 43, more commonly known as The Forgotten World Highway.

This 151km road winds its way over green rolling hills, through dense rainforest, and past impressive rocky cliffsides to Taumarunui. It took us over 5 hours because the road goes up and down over the many hills in the region. The 3 main saddles, Strathmore (275m asl), Whangamomona (270m asl) and Tahora (275m asl) have one concentrating on every bend and

Mt Taranaki
sharp blind curve for fear of driving over the edge or into the cliff wall. It is very different to driving on the flat in WA. The land use is cattle, dairy, sheep and forestry. We stopped for a cuppa after the Strathmore Saddle and saw a for sale sign for a sheep and cattle farm, 487ha for $4 995 000 … not cheap. The hills on this property were not gentle rolling but steep and high. Fit animals!

Enroute is Whangamomona, a tiny settlement of only a few dozen buildings that had declared itself an independent republic in 1989, and now has its own government and president. In the centre of town stands the Whangamomona Hotel.

The Moki Tunnel of The Forgotten World Highway is a 180m tunnel carved out by hand, and only wide enough for 1 vehicle. It advertises as 4.3m high and 3.4m wide. First in best dressed is the rule-of-order on driving through.

We stopped whenever we could, which resulted in short walks into the forest to see various attractions, whether they be a fast flowing river or the gravesite of a pioneer, and on another occasion to speak to a group
of ‘oldies’ cycling part of the road … the gravel section! Rocks in their heads.

Reaching Taumarunui, we lunched beside King Tawhiao, who in 1884 travelled to England to discuss the concerns of the Māori’s with Queen Victoria. Onto highway 41 to head to Taupo. We stopped numerous times to view the scenery from up high and as a result didn’t reach Taupo but a little place right on the banks of Lake Taupo, Motuoapa. We are camped literally 30m from the shore. Remember, Lake Taupo is the biggest Lake in Australasia, roughly the size of Singapore, and is actually an immense volcanic caldera.

Additional photos below
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Landscape... scenery ... views

Whangamomona "republic" pub and townsite buildings.

Moki Tunnel entrance Stratford end

Moki Tunnel exit Taumarunui end

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