A Republic, Forgotten Highways & 1200 Little Spotted Kiwi
Day 1 Arrive Wellington and collect your rental car.
Proceed directly to your central city hotel
Free time to explore Wellington, christened by Lonely Planet as the
World’s Coolest Capital.
Overnight Wellington ( Breakfast included )
Day 2 Depart Wellington early to Paraparaumu to join your ferry departure
to Kapiti Island.
On arrival you will be welcomed by one of Kapiti’s expert guides and
provided with an introduction to the next day and a half. You can
expect to see some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and
endangered birds up close and personal as you share the space with
the locals. Dinner is served prior to departing on your guided walk
through the bush to engage with the Little Spotted Kiwi that inhabit
the island. While there are no guarantees, with over 1200 kiwis on
the island the opportunity to see them in the wild is very high.
Overnight Kapiti Island
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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