New Zealand has become a very popular tourist destination of choice in the last few years. You certainly can find everything that a tourist would like here. We have the sandy white beaches and the breathtaking scenery. We have snow and buzzing city life. We have the little gems off the beaten track and we have everything sporty that you can think of. A tourist won’t be disappointed.
As a foreigner myself I truly loved my first time experiences in New Zealand. Later on I could build on those great memories and even go back to the places that I initially visited to rekindle those fond memories.
Whangamomona is such a place. A very recent article about the little gem re-confirmed my love for this fantastical place that just did not move on with time. To get there is an adventure in itself. We travelled to Whangamomona from the Taumarunui side (central North Island). The Forgotten World Highway is a truly isolated part of New Zealand. Although a fairly easy drive to get there it is unforgettable. The rainforest along the way transforms the surroundings into something that feels like it should fit in the Amazon. The gorges create excitement and beautiful scenery that captivates the senses. There is a tunnel and four saddles to traverse along the way. A tourist cannot want anything more. The gravel section of the road will hopefully be sealed soon although it will take some of the old-worldly feel out of the experience.
What mesmerises me most about Whangamomona is the fact that time stood still there. The Whangamomona Hotel is a history lesson in itself with all the photos and stories on the walls. The food is great and you meet fantastic people there. We met a horse trainer who tried to convince us to buy a horse with him. He was an interesting character to say the least. We later ran into him again in Taumarunui. The old-worldly charm is evident everywhere in Whangamonona.
The tabby cat mentioned in the article above truly owns the streets of Whangamomona. He made himself at home on one of the chairs inside the Whangamomona Hotel bar and eatery when we were there. I did not dare ask him to move. He did look friendly but you don’t talk to royalty unless they address you first.
Whangamomona declared itself a republic in 1989 when governance moved from the Taranaki District to the Manawatu/Whanganui District and locals rebelled. The isolation of the Highway and the fact that the inhabitants of Whangamomona made themselves famous with their tongue-in-cheek rebellion makes you want to go there to meet the inhabitants of this famous town. I could not help but notice a sign outside one of the homes in Whangamomona. No females allowed. The message was clear. Perhaps it was a bit tongue-in-cheek. I hope so at least. I felt a bit sorry for the romantic misfortunes of the inhabitant of the home who possibly had his heart broken. I wish I could have met him but I could not knock on his door for a chat. The sign was clear and I was not in the habit of trespassing. He would have been an interesting character I am sure. The Republic has since produced a number of presidents (not all human). Animals seem to be a big favourite for the job. They must be truly special.
There is a lot to see and do in and around Whangamomona. Thrill seekers won’t be disappointed. Walking tracks, places of interest and historical places are plentiful on route. You could still easily imagine yourself experiencing the tranquillity a hundred years ago. The inhabitants of Whangamomona somehow froze time and allowed us a glimpse into a bygone era.
If you plan to travel or move to New Zealand, Whangamomona should be on your top 10 list of places to visit.