Taumarunui — New Plymouth (2-3 days, 185km)
Pedal back in time and experience an amazing historical tour on New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail.
The remote and mysterious Forgotten World Highway features mountain saddles, an eerie tunnel and a river gorge.
The most significant settlement along the highway is Whangamomona, a historic town that declared itself a republic in 1989 and sells its own passports.
There are plenty of places to stop, stretch your legs and explore historic sites and scenic walks along the way.
New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
This award-winning 12.7km coastal walkway winds its way along the edge of the Tasman Sea, past world-class surf breaks and dynamic kinetic art.
You can take a 15-minute stroll from the central city to Breakwater Bay, a bustling coastal precinct alongside Ngamotu Beach.
The locals have created varied experiences here from the romantic to the adventurous.
Enjoy a coffee or dinner, cruise around the Sugar Loaf Islands or take a helicopter flight over Mt Taranaki.
Breakwater Bay is also a great spot to see a stunning west coast sunset.
The Whanganui River has a special place in the hearts of those who live in the region, holding cultural, spiritual and historical significance in its murky depths.
Things to know
This cycling route is remote.
There are only a few businesses providing accommodation or food along the way, so cyclists must plan in advance and go well prepared.
The trail can be ridden year round, but the best riding conditions are in summer and autumn (late November to early May).
It is rated Grade 4 (advanced), so it is recommended for fit and experienced cyclists only.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Limited between Taumarunui and Whangamomona and is available along much, but not all of the way.
DRINKING WATER: There are a number of settlements where you can fill your water bottle.
How to get here
All Trail Sections are Grade 4 Advanced
Taumarunui to Tahora Saddle (77km 5-8 hours)
Tahora Saddle to Purangi (45km 3-5 hours)
Purangi to New Plymouth (63km 4-6 hours)
The Forgotten World Highway starts at Taumarunui, a railway town in the Central North Island. The cycle route traverses the quietest state highway (SH 43) in New Zealand, with approximately 200 cars on average using the main section per day.
After several kilometres, the route heads over hilly farmland for 30km before climbing over Paparata Saddle. It then drops down into the beautiful Tangarakau Gorge, which is cloaked with native forest.
This is followed by 15km of gravel road and although this is relatively smooth and road bike tyres can usually cope, it is not always easy, especially when the road has just been graded.
Beyond the gorge, there is a moderate climb to the Moki Tunnel (known locally as the Hobbit’s Hole) and over Tahora Saddle followed by a long and gentle downhill ride to the settlement of Whangamomona. This town not only celebrates its rich history but also celebrates its claim to be an independent republic every second January.
Heading south from the ‘republic’, the route turns off the state highway and heads west on Junction Road. The first 16km of Junction Road is gravel and requires wide road tyres or mountain-bike tyres. It is scheduled to be sealed before 2020.
Junction Road passes through several original settlements, including Purangi, where accommodation is available in the original schoolhouse.
The road is narrow, quiet and scenic. This is kiwi country and you will need to watch out for goats, sheep and cattle wandering along the verge.
The route continues over Tarata Saddle, through another picturesque tunnel, and down to a historic suspension bridge across the Waitara River.
The ride leaves the very best for last, as the route now becomes a shared path through Bell Block and around the coast where you will enjoy some spectacular views as you head into New Plymouth.
Content and photo credited to the NZ Walking Access Commission