The one-lane Moki Tunnel on the Forgotten World Highway. © Stefan Schurr

Forgotten World Highway: a rugged, beautiful drive


Doesn’t that just sound utterly attractive to the intrepid adventurer? Anything ‘forgotten’ demands immediate exploration.

Then you ask yourself, where, exactly, is Taumarunui? Or, if you’re starting at the other end, Stratford? Or the little towns in between. Douglas? Toko? And should you be concerned that someone described the 150km route as ‘a bit upsy downy’?

Crikey, that’s just the beginning. This is Kiwi back country at its finest: saddles, streams, rivers, farms, and one, you know, watering hole.

Yep, Whangamōmona is it when it comes to what could officially constitute civilisation. Then let’s mention the slightly creepy one lane tunnel at Moki (also known as ‘Hobbit’s Hole’), or perhaps remind you of the sign that says, in no uncertain terms, ‘there are NO petrol stations on The Forgotten Highway.’ Forgotten by petroleum? Who would’ve thought! Well, if you wanted a decaf soy latte, a back rub and a big screen, you wouldn’t be here now, would you?

Fifteen kilometres of the road is unsealed which, as a percentage, is nothing, whether you’re travelling by car, bike, motorcycle or omnibus. Whatever saddle you’re sat in to crest those four mountain saddles, you’re in for a stunning few hours or more.

It’s rugged. It’s beautiful. It being a hangover from the railway days lends it a piquancy and nostalgia that adds an extra layer of pleasure to an already unique travelling experience.

Forgotten? It’ll last long in your memory, no question.

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