A Republic, Forgotten Highways & 1200 Little Spotted Kiwi
Day 3 Wake up to the sound of birdsong and make your way to the Lodge dining room for Kapiti Island’s famous breakfast. The rest of the morning is free to enjoy the solitude of the island and engage with its wildlife. Lunch is provided prior to departing to the mainland. 1530 Depart Paraparaumu Beach to Wanganui. Estimate arrival in Wanganui at 17h30. Own arrangements Overnight Whanganui.Day 4 Whanganui is a river city rich in Maori and European history. The river was once the main route into the central North Island. The city, with its historic precinct, is full of character buildings including the old WRC (Whanganui Rowing Club) building, the first architecturally built rowing club in NZ. This morning, visit the river centre in the old WRC building before feeling the spirit of the river on a 2 hour cruise on the Paddle Steamer Waimarie. Lunch is available to purchase on board. Return to Whanganui at 1pm
Heading west from Whanganui, interesting townships pop up regularly. Keep an eye out for small museums and quirky art shops. At Hawera it's time to make a choice. You can follow the ‘Surf Highway’ around Cape Egmont and have a beach view all the way. Or you can take the inland route via Stratford and enjoy the green serenity of farmland. This is the shorter route. Either way, the dramatic volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki will dominate the landscape for much of your journey. The forested lower slopes of the mountain are laced with walking tracks. The city of New Plymouth is known for its beautiful parks and gardens. It also has a strong arts focus, so check out the current exhibitions.
The total driving time is up to 2h30m however due to all the distractions along the way we suggest you take your time and stop to take in the scenery. Overnight New Plymouth Day 5 Today your time is free to explore New Plymouth. Start the day with a walk along the waterfront promenade and treat yourself afterwards to coffee at Elixir or Ozone Coffee Roasters. The Len Ly Centre in the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, a work of art in itself, is the only institute in NZ dedicated to a single artist. After lunch head out to Dawson’s Falls or pop into the DOC office and select one of the short walks on Mt Taranaki.Day 6 Depart New Plymouth towards Stratford to fuel up before joining SH43 to the enigmatically named Forgotten World Highway. The route is 140kms long and there are no petrol stops until you reach Taumarunui. This seriously under rated scenic drive takes you through the backroads of eastern Taranaki through to Taumarunui. It is a designated heritage trail full of places of historic importance. You will make a short “departure” from NZ along this highway as you enter the Republic of Whangamomona, self declared on 1Nov 1989 after a boundary dispute. Make sure you get your official passport stamp at the only pub in the Republic. Continue on to Taumarunui. As you near the end of the drive at Aukopae you will find Lauren’s Lavender Farm. This is a “must stop” location for some lunch or afternoon tea, depending on the time you pass by. The rows of lavender are breath taking as are the products found in the shop. After strolling through the lavender rows, you can make your way down to the Whanganui River which is still busy today with dozens of canoes and kayaks making their way down the river. Overnight Taumarunui B&B. Day 7 Early morning departure with Forgotten World Adventures on their shuttle to the start of the rail line at Okahukura. Here you’ll board your Rail Cart and set off on your journey through the Forgotten World. Immerse yourself in the changing views of rolling hills, remote farmland and native bush, and experience wildlife close to the tracks, as you travel through tunnels and over bridges on this unique excursion.
Stop at Tokirima Station and enjoy a Ploughman’s lunch between your adventures before taking the shuttle to the Ohinepane Landing on the Whanganui River. To say the next art of your adventure is just an informative Jet Boat journey on the Whanganui River undersells what will likely be the highlight of your day. You will thunder along at high speed and take in the awe-inspiring scenery until you reach Cherry Grove's Taumaranui office.
If you want a slightly later start to your morning, it is possible to take this trip in the reverse direction and start with the Jet boat at 1030 and finish with the rail carts.
Overnight Taumarunui (B&B).
Day 8 Depart Taumarunui north along the windy but always scenic SH4 to Te Kuiti where you will find the bronze statue of their most famous son, Sir Colin Meads. The statue by Aucklander Natalie Stamila who also created the Sir Michael Jones Statue at Eden Park, stands 2.5m tall and has incredible detail such as “the way I laced my boots,” was much appreciated by “Pinetree” himself. Continue through Te Kuiti to the turnoff to Cave World and the stunning Footwhistle Cave complex. This is a very personalised tour underground to view the glow worms. Continue on to Kihikihi and the turnoff to Pukeatua and your accommodation for this evening beside the Sanctuary Mountain eco park at Maungatautari. Overnight Maungatautari, Pukeatua – DB&B Day 9 This morning after a sumptuous breakfast drive the short distance to the entrance of Sanctuary Mountain and the fully predator free fenced eco island of Maungatautari. Local iwi and farmers have brought this land back to how it might have looked in pre European times, stocked full of now rare birds such as the Takahe and the Brown Kiwi as well as the lowland parrot, the Kaka. There are tuatara and giant cave wetas if you’re brave enough to take an evening walk with a ranger who will point these out to you. After lunch take a walk through the bush along the banks the Waikato River near Lake Arapuni and visit the Arapuni Hydro Electric station, the oldest in NZ currently generating electricity having been commissioned in 1932. You can cross the river on a suspension bridge just up from the station. Overnight Pukeatua DB&B Day 10 Depart Pukeatua after breakfast and continue to Auckland Airport via Hamilton and a visit to the incredible Hamilton Gardens. Continue to Auckland to return your car before checking in for your flight home.