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.
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 fi ll your water bottle.
Stage 1: Taumarunui to Tahora Saddle
77km, 5-8 hours
Highway 43 , the Forgotten World Highway, is well signposted from Taumarunui. It tracks an undulating course wet from town, alongside the gracful Whanganui River then heads over hilly farmland for 30 kilometres before settling in for a steady climb to Paparate Saddle. Once down the otherside, It weaves the beautiful Tangarakau Gorge, with native forest. Thirteen kilometres of this section is smooth gravel. The road is sealed again beyond the gorge as it begins a moderate climb to the ‘Hobbit Hole’ tunnel. On the other side ofthe tunnel, it dives to Tahora village before tackling the stiff climb to Tahora Saddle ( where there is accommodation with stunning views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki.
Stage 2 Tahora Saddle to Purangi
45km, 3-5 hours
Tahora Saddle is followed by a 12km gentle downhill to Whangamomona.This rustic town claims to be independent republic. For a small fee. visitors can have passports stamped at the Whangamomona Hotel. An hour south of the republic, our recommended ”specia’ route peels off Highway 43 at Junction Road to head west along a historic coach road from Pohokura Saddle. There are dozen kilometres of gravel to bike at the start of this deviation, but the effort is well rewarded as you follow Junction Road. through Matau to Purangi where you stay in the original schoolhouse. This is kiwi country. and you will notice dozens ofstoat traps beside the road. Goats, domestic pigs, sheep and cattle also commonly wander along the verge. There are only three buildings at Purangi- so dont miss them.
Stage 3: Purangi to New Plymouth
63km, 4-6 hours
The special route leads you over Tarata Saddle, through another tunnel and down the historic Bertrand suspension bridge, which crosses the Waitara River. Leaving Purangi, Junction Road soon changes name to Tarata Road. Follow this for 15kms before turning onto Otaraoa Road. The next important turn is 31km from Purangi and is often missed becuase it is at the bottom of a fast downhill-make sure your tuen onto Tikorangi Road .Then turn right at Ngatimaru Road and left at Bertrand Road to descent to the Bertrand Bridge. From the bridge climb up to Waitara Road turn left and then right onto Cross Road.Take a right onto kelly Road and left at Manutahi Road to Lepperton for an ice cream. From Lepperton, take Manutahi (cross the highway) Corbett and left De Havilland Drive into Mangati Walkway that leads under Highway 3. At the end, turn left up Parklands Ave and then right along Smeaton Road to a big park. There you will find the famous New Plymouth coastal pathway that leads from Bellblock to the centre of New Plymouth, 10km away. This a great finish but remember “to share with care” as the walkway is popular with walkers and families ” always keep left”.
Fact File: Overview One of the top 10 cycle touring routes in New Zealand. Starting from Ohura is also a great option, as there are fewer hills and less traffic than theTaumaranui ( however harder to get to).
How to get there: There are regular bus connections between New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington. Alternatively arrange a shuttle to take you to Ohura ( accommodation is availableat the old prison visite www.bnblive.com
Left Field: park at Whangamomona and take a modified golf cart along the railway line and bike back. The golf carts have bike rakes. Check out at www.forgottonworldadventures.co.nz
Riding surface: 70% sealed road, 25% gravel road, 5% cycle path
Special considerations: The traditional Forgotten World Highway ends at Stratford. This cyclist’s alternative avoids a bland section of roadwith moderate traffic flows in favourof a pleasant back-county road, and an award winning cycle-path into New Plymouth. Mobile phone coverage is limited between Taumarunui and Whangamomona. Trail website www.nzcycletrail.com
Taumaunui accommodation, shops, cafes and supermarket www.visitruapehu.com, also for accommodation www.bnblive.com, Lauren’s Lavender Farm and Cafe; lovely gargen cafe (15km from Tamarunui) www.laurenslovender.co.nz
Tahora Saddle Back Country Accommodation, camping,bed and breakfast and emergency food supplies ph 06 762 5858 www.backcountryaccommodation.co.nz or wwwbnblive.com
Whangamomona Hotel, takeaways and hot meals, as well as accommodation ( must book ahead) 06 -762 5823 www.whangamomonahotel.co.nz, Whangamomona campground camping and basic cabins 06 762 5881
Purangi Orchard Beds and tent sites ( can provide prebooked meals ) 06 756 5569 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pukeho Domain camping 06 756 5537
Lepperton Dairy for food
New Plymouth there are copious options for food and accommodation www.visitnewplymouth.nz , for accommodation visit www.bnblive.com Bike shops: Cycle Inn, 133 Devon Street East 06 758 7418 www.cycleinn.co.nz