20% at time of Booking, balance 30 days prior to tour date
Traverse the regions which define our history – and meet the locals & hear their stories. Explore a Forgotten World of back country New Zealand.
We have so much to show you – it begins as we ascend the other side of the Kaimai ranges and learn about deforestation and rail back in the early 1900’s. Then we pass another timber town with a Maori history story of the early 1600’s.
Enjoy a visit with local timber museum & hear their stories. Traverse lakes & damns, central plateau, national parks until we join the Mangawhero river and follow its pathway as it drains the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. Stop to view the Raukawa Falls and later rejoin at the Whanganui River.
We have a plethora of places to see and things to do.
We spend one night in Whanganui, where we will cruise on the historic Waimarie Paddle Steamer.
A visit to the Tawhiti Museum at Hawera will be an eye-opening experience.
One night spent in New Plymouth, where the Taranaki Garden Festival will be on and the rhododendrons in bloom. Then we’re off to drive our own Rail Karts with Forgotten World Adventures. Includes a night at the historic Whangamomona Hotel, and a jetboat ride along another piece of the Whanganui River all the way to Taumaranui.
We will complete our adventure with a very relaxing night in Taupo, before returning you home after one incredible road trip.
We begin our adventure with a drive … up over the Kaimai Range to Putaruru. First stop of the day for a cuppa. No better place to enjoy this than at The Wooden Farmer. They will serve us a “Bushmans” Brekkie – to start us on our adventures of a bygone era. The Wooden Farmer has delectable food, and this place is impressive, you will love the old pictures and reminders of yesteryear, along with the chunky wooden tables that fit in so well with this cafe’s name.
Next stop today is Putaruru Timber Museum – The purpose of the museum is to celebrate and preserve the history of the Timber Industry dating back in time. In 1903, the bush tramline was built to haul logs from Mokai to Putaruru and the establishment of the Taupo Totara Timber Company meant an influx of population and the town of Putaruru developed.
We continue on our day’s journey – our next stop is in Tokoroa – just to get up close to the Talking Poles. Each poles has a story to tell – these provide a great photo opportunity & talking point.
We continue onwards, all the way to Whakamaru. Cross over the Waikato River and stop for lunch at Damn café. Again, a fitting café name for the place. It will be very light lunch as we did have a late Bushman brekkie so I am sure we won’t be all that hungry – but there will be something here to tempt your palate.
From here we continue south to Kuratau junction, via Tihoi, a farming community that has a history of Maori land wars, deforestation & milling, farming and today is still strong in community.
Kuratau is a small village on the western side of Lake Taupō. The Kuratau Power Station was built on the Kuratau River near the town and completed in 1962. The local Poukura Marae and Parekawa meeting house is a meeting place of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa hapū of Ngāti Parekāwa.
We continue to follow the lake edge until we get past Tokaanu where we head inland to National Park. This si such a beautiful drive – with views of mountains which will rise in front of us. Tongariro, Ngauruhoe & then Ruapehu. Maybe there will be some snow still on the peaks.
We continue past Horopito, another historic mill town – known today for the car wreckers and the movie called Crash Palace. Then its onto Raetihi – historically the crossroads of the region before roads it was accessed by the Whanganui River – which today is still the longest navigable river in New Zealand. You will hear more stories about the river on days 2 & 4 of this great adventure.
Raetihi’ s wide main street reflects the pioneering history of the area and historic buildings include the Theatre Royal, Bank of New Zealand and at the Waimarino Museum the relocated Railway Station.
It is the gateway to adventures; it has been a place to stop and connect for centuries.
Today it remains an important rural service town, home to around 1,200 residents.
From here its just a lovely scenic drive through countryside, following the Mangawhero river and its steep clay cliffs, all the way to Whanganui – our destination.
Overnight in Whanganui (B, D)
This morning we will take a ride on New Zealand’s only public transport elevator, the Durie Hill Elevator. Built in 1919, it is still used daily by locals and visitors. Access is via a long pedestrian tunnel, then a 66-metre ride to the top of the hill. Next to the Elevator Tower is the Durie Hill War Memorial Tower, a Category 2 Historic Building. It is 33.5 metres high and constructed of marine sandstone estimated to be more than 2 million years old. From the lookout deck, there are panoramic views of the city, river, and harbour.
On a fine day Mt Taranaki, Mt Ruapehu and even the tip of the South Island can be seen. If there is time, you may like to take a quick walk through the Saturday morning ‘River Traders Market’.
At 10:30am we will board the Waimarie Paddle Steamer for a two-hour cruise on the Whanganui River. Salvaged from the bottom of the Whanganui River where she sat for around 50 years, the Paddle Steamer Waimarie was restored to her former glory and re-launched in 2000 to make her New Zealand’s only authentic coal-fired paddle steamer in operation. There is a licensed bar on board, with snacks and hot and cold drinks available for purchase. We will have our lunch on board.
The Whanganui River catchment is regarded as sacred to Māori, with the river and settlements holding a special place for Māori and early European settlers. Wanganui was established 4km from the river mouth in 1840 and is one of New Zealand’s oldest cities. The city’s spelling was corrected to Whanganui in 2015 following consultation to reflect the Māori spelling. Both spellings are acceptable and correct when referring to the urban area or city. Translated from te reo Māori, Whanganui can be interpreted as” big bay or big harbour”
In the early 1900s the Whanganui River tourist trade took off, with thousands of passengers transported on Alexander Hatrick’s riverboat fleet. A remnant of this industry is the Waimarie Paddle Steamer. Today, Whanganui City is a blend of heritage architecture and modern businesses, along with a thriving arts scene.
After our cruise, we depart Whanganui for the Tawhiti Museum, just outside Hawera
En route we pass through some spectacular landscapes of beautiful pastureland and glimpses of the stunning ocean – South Taranaki Bight. Passing through Patea we will stop for a photo opportunity of the Iconic replica waka hoisted onto its concrete plinth, the Aotea Memorial Waka. Aotea being one of the 7 Waka that arrived as part of the great migration from Polynesia. Patea is remembered for its industries, freezing works and cheese exports.
Can you remember what is it famous for?
Founded as a military outpost in 1865, Pātea was originally named Carlyle. By the time it became a borough in 1881, the town was the main settlement in southern Taranaki and its river port was one of the busiest in the region, exporting cheese, wool, meat and flax.
Established in 1883, Pātea’s meat-freezing works were the economic basis of the town for a century. They closed in 1982 and a dire future was predicted for the town. The Pātea Māori Club’s 1984 hit song ‘Poi e’ drew nationwide attention to the town. The town is named after the river.
Today it survives on a developing cultural tourism attraction from museum to nearby walks. The town continues to struggle to maintain its population however the community spirit is strong. Agribusiness is the mainstay for many locals.
Nigel Ogle has created a magical world of displays and dioramas, depicting local Taranaki history in a way that will amaze you. The life-sized exhibits and scale models have all been built on the premises. The attractions are spread over 5000 square metres. There is so much to see that you will be booking in another trip to come back!
A real highlight of this museum is the boat ride through the Whalers & Traders section. There is so much to see here that our visit will fly by.
Then it’s on to New Plymouth for a night. We are visiting at its most vibrant time of the year – today is the last day of the ‘Taranaki Garden Festival”. So keep your eyes peeled for all the magnificent colour of those wonderful Rhodo’s.
You will enjoy the lovely Deon hotel tonight, there is no hotel like it in New Zealand. The staff are amazing. The food is exceptional and the beds ae just divine.
Accommodation: New Plymouth (B,L,D)
This morning we explore central New Plymouth. Visit the Te Rewa Rewa bridge. It is a beautiful design and notable construction, with the ribs yielding to the prevailing wind, the bridge is aligned to Mount Taranaki. The sacred mountain is framed within the skewed arch when viewed while leaving the sacred ground – promising what is eternal. A visit to the Wind Wand kinetic sculpture on the foreshore of New Plymouth created by Len Lye is a must see.
Enjoy a tour through Pukekura Park in central New Plymouth. Established in 1876, the park covers 52 hectares and is a Garden of National Significance.
Hop onboard the buggy and glide around the park with a knowledgeable host. Includes the fernery: the tropical house and three glass-topped caverns linked by tunnels dug into the hillside have been attracting visitors for almost a century.
Lunch is a lovely high tea at the teahouse in the park.
After lunch, we continue our travels to Douglas, a dairy farming community of vivid green pastures. From here, we will continue by rail!
Rail Karts are the ultimate way to explore this area of rural New Zealand. Travel along decommissioned railway lines, through tunnels, over bridges and rivers and to townships that time forgot.
Experience the Forgotten World from the comfort of your rail-kart, cleverly adapted to be self-driven along the railway tracks. Your very own rail kart is petrol driven, has a maximum speed of up to 20kms per hour and you have total control over accelerator and braking.
From Douglas to the Republic of Whangamomona. Your tour guide will control the trail ride with many stops along the way, allowing you to enjoy the local history, scenery, and tales of a bygone era. He will unlock the secrets of the land as you wind your way through the changing landscapes, through the tunnels and over the many bridges to the rugged hills which frame the ‘Republic’ of Whangamomona.
Tonight, you will feel that you have stepped back in time, staying at the Whangamomona Hotel. You will be hosted and enjoy old style NZ hotel accommodation and country hospitality. It’s a truly unique experience like no other.
Overnight in Whangamomona Hotel (B,L,D)
This morning is a relatively early start as we reboard our Rail Karts and continue our adventure. There are plenty of photo opportunities and toilet stops along the way, while taking in the ever-changing vistas on your guided rail tour. As you travel through magnificent expanses of sub-tropical rainforest and untamed native bush, take some time to reflect on the tenacity of those who travelled this way before you, including the hundreds of workers who cut through this difficult terrain using pickaxes, shovels, and horse & carts. They took more than 30 years to complete this rail line, including 24 tunnels & 91 bridges.
The Forgotten World is also home to ancient Maori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks. This rail line became the catalyst to opening the territory for European settlement.
We will meet you for lunch then it’s off to enjoy a scenic jetboat ride on the mighty Whanganui River, with your destination being Cherry Grove in Taumaranui at approx. 4pm.
We will meet you here with the bus and continue our journey through to Taupo for our final night where we will enjoy a farewell dinner together, in house at our accommodation.
Overnight in Taupo – Manuel’s Millennium Hotel & Resort. (B,L,D)
Sadly, this morning, we are heading home. First though, we will enjoy a leisurely breakfast in house (not too early) and then make our way to “Huka Honey Hive”. Huka Honey stock the country’s largest selection of artisan honey products, and we are off to sample some of them along with viewings and interactive displays.
Did you know, it takes the entire life of one honeybee to make half a teaspoon of honey? And did you know, they have five eyes, and their eyes are hairy? Even with five eyes, they can’t see the colour red. We rely so much on the pollination process of bees for our food source, so much so, that Albert Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live”.
After our enlightening visit to Huka Honey Hive, we will depart for home passing through Broadlands to catch a glimpse of the new Tauhara geothermal power plant which is due to open any time soon.
Followed by a lunch stop in Rotorua, then we will drop you all home where you can put your feet up and reminisce over your past five days travelling around the country.