Whilst the kids and I were travelling in England for 3 weeks after Ashique had left, he did some travelling of his own in New Zealand. I am still working on him to write a blog post on his own (we are not there yet), so you will just have to take what I got from the question and answer session I had with him about his epic motorbike trip through the Forgotten World Highway along with the stunning pictures he took on his trip. He rode a BMW F 650 and all images are taken by him on his Samsung Galaxy S5.
How did you decide which route to go on?
I googled top 10 motorbike rides in North Island and found ones feasible for a weekend journey from Auckland. Forgotten Highway showed up as No. 1 Considered as one of New Zealand’s most secluded roads, it explores the ever-changing landscape between Taumarunui and Stratford. The journey is 155km long and begins in Stratford which is named after Shakespeare’s birthplace, goes through Whakaahurangi Maori Trail and various other scenic points and ends in Taumarunui. You can see Mount Taranaki and the surrounding Egmont National Park along the way.
Before and start of the journey
How long did it take you to get there? Tell us more about the journey and what you saw and experienced
It took four hours to get to the start of the Highway from Auckland. I did the route the other way around then how it is normally done – from Taumarunui to Stratford. I rode part of the highway until I got to Whangamomona where I spent the night at Whangamomona Hotel which has its own interesting story to go with it (see below.) The next day I did the rest of the highway before turning back towards Auckland. Along the way I passed through many gorges, saddles, waterfalls, forests, historic towns and snow-capped views of Mt Taraki (Egmont is the English name of this mountain).
The single lane 180m long Moki Tunnel was built in 1936 and is known locally as the Hobbit’s Hole. Random general knowledge – it is home to fossilized giant crabs!
There is a detour along the Moki road which leads to Mt Damper Falls. The is New Zealand’s second highest waterfall (85m) and is amazing to view surrounded by native bush. There is also Moki forest here which has walking tracks and picnic spots at different places. It is New Zealand’s fastest regenerating native bush. I went to the Tangarakau gorge which has 12 km of unsealed road where I drove through gravel and mud to the beautiful Podocarp forest. I also visited Dawson’s falls which was really lovely.
Tell us about your interesting Hotel experience
I arrived at Whangamomona Hotel, one of the most remote country hotel in New Zealand. It was like being transformed back in time. I received a warm welcome by the hosts. They had a room for me (single $70) which I thought was reasonable. Room was basic, no on-suite, but had all that I needed, very clean. It was the middle of winter, I sat by the fire and enjoyed the ambience. The home brand Pale Ale was refreshing and I ordered the lamb shanks which were tender and the meal was hearty. No phone signal or internet which was great, really felt as if I was in the heart of the forgotten world.
I was struggling between deciding to be spontaneous or reserving a hotel in advance as I wasn’t sure how long I would have biked to, but I am glad I decided to go with the flow and show up here! This town has a really interesting history as they have declared themselves a republic and runs ‘elections’ every year. For more details of this story see here.
Next day I went to the interesting town of Stratford. Named after Shakespeare’s birthplace, it homes New Zealand’s only glockenspiel clock tower which performs scenes from Rome and Juliet at different times of the day.
Other random interesting stops and things I saw during the journey, at least ones I took pictures of. Unfortunately the day I had views of Mt Taranaki, it was too cloudy and pictures are too fuzzy to post.
After driving 950 km in two days I finally got back to Auckland late Sunday evening. Ideally I would have done this journey over 3 days, but had to make do with two which included being on the bike for 12 hours! I wanted to share these experiences with the family but unfortunately not possible to do on a motorbike. Just have to wait till the kids are older and we can do it together as a family in another continent few years down the line.