Travelling Taranaki’s Forgotten Highway in a car is a nightmare. A nausea-inducing road which climbs, twists and turns for kilometre after kilometre. But travelling through that wilderness of verdant, primeval, native forest on converted golf carts is something else entirely.
In a forgotten part of Taranaki, deep in hidden valleys we travelled along disused railway lines over bridges through tunnels and townships long forgotten.
The Forgotten World Adventures company has cleverly adapted golf carts to travel along railway lines. They are self-driven and we trundled along in convoy learning about the past, in this unknown part of New Zealand. The scenery is ever-changing. The carts travel at a stately speed giving you time to enjoy views little seen by the motoring public.
We travelled from Whangamomona to Taumarunui in one day passing through 20 tunnels, over 61 bridges and viaducts, through nearly-deserted historic towns for a wonderful 80 kilometre trip.
The construction of this line started in Stratford in early 1901 to link it with the Taranaki Main Trunk line. It was expected to take 10 years but took more than 30. The line from Stratford to Whangamomona was completed quickly by 2014 but the remaining line was hampered by the terrain, World War I and the large number of viaducts and tunnels.
But on completion in 1932 the motor car had become a reality: passenger traffic declined and the last rail passenger travelled the line in March 1983.
Forgotten World Adventures now allows us to travel this lost world and marvel at the art, history, tenacity and ability of our early rail, bridge and tunnel builders.
An unforgettable experience!