Riding the Forgotten World

The Forgotten World Cycle Trail, the first official Heartland ride of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, begins in Taumarunui in the Central North Island and traces the Forgotten World Highway through true back country before deviating through farmland to the Taranaki coast, finishing on New Plymouth’s stunning Coastal Walkway.

At first glance the route doesn’t seem for the faint hearted - over its 180km the Forgotten World Cycle Trail climbs several saddles (total ascent 2017m, descent 2175m) and there are few places to stop for a coffee – but the ride is gaining rave reviews for its scenery, connection to the real New Zealand and very low traffic count. You’ll likely meet more wild animals than other vehicles along the route.

At its heart is the Republic of Whangamomona – a self-declared republic complete with its own passport – available from the Pub. The once-thriving village is now a heritage area, and offers a range of accommodation options. You can also stay at Tahora – 12km before Whangamomona, and in a former school house at Purangi – around 31km after Whangamomona.

Highlights are the beautiful bush-lined Tangarakau Gorge, the sweeping views from the saddles which include both Mount Taranaki and the mountains of the

central North Island, and the tunnels – from the Tahora Tunnel – also known as the Hobbit Hole - lined with fossilised shellfish, and the Tarata Tunnel at the top of the final big climb. From there it’s largely downhill to the historic Bertrand Road suspension bridge.

As you pass through Purangi, you’ll pass kiwi signs – there’s a kiwi reserve nearby. Arrival into New Plymouth is heralded by the luxuriously smooth Coastal Walkway, which will lead you over iconic bridges and past welcome coffee stops to the Wind Wand sculpture, across the road from the city’s iSITE Visitor Information Centre.
While there is little in the way of infrastructure along the route, there are enough sweeping vistas to make carrying supplies more than worthwhile. This ride has to be on your bucket list.

Beyond the trail

Taranaki offers many other compelling rides, from the iconic round the mountain road circuit, the region’s network of shared walk and cycle trails, and the mountain bike park at Lake Mangamahoe on the southern edge of New Plymouth.

There are also plenty of great road rides and backcountry trails to explore – head to one of the region’s bike shops for directions.

The region’s cycle events also offer a good excuse to head to Taranaki. The Round the Mountain Cycle Classic in January attracts a big field for the 150km sportif ride, while the annual Powerco Tour of Taranaki caters to the racers. The New Plymouth Mountain Bikers offer an active events calendar, as does Let’s Go – the city’s walking and cycling programme.

Whatever you ride, a rewarding trail awaits you in Taranaki.