The Whangamomona Holiday Park was setup by the Stratford Council using the old school house on a local park ground which was also used by the Rugby Club. It is now run by the local community.
The school was closed down in 1979 and several buildings taken away but the old schoolhouse still remains. Some of the older buildings also remain and are used as Backpackers cabins with bunks in them. Its a perfectly flat parking area divided by a hedge between powered and non powered sites. There is a well setup playground and an eclectic bunch of Exercycles in the grass which you can use if you like. An open air Gym! There’s also the odd chook and some miniature ponies running around free too.
There’s a kitchen which is being replaced by a newer one in the schoolhouse, loos recycling and and outside wash up area.
At $15 a head including power with everything in good order and clean, I thought it was pretty reasonable.
The camp manager Richard lives on site and seems like a good chap too. I was given a guided tour around the camp and through the old schoolhouse.
A nice spot and an easy walk to the pub and the village.
After walking around the town, I checked out the Hotel, HQ for the republic! The Whangamomona Hotel was originally built in 1902 but burnt down 8 years or so later. In 1919 it was used as a Hospital and during the depression.
In 1989 when the Electoral people in Wellington were amalgamating councils everywhere, they decided in their wisdom ? That they would amalgamate the good folk of Whangamomona away from Taranaki to Wanganui on the basis that the river edged up there. The locals were understandably incensed and decided they would break away as a republic. The Hotel was the Republic Headquarters and after local elections for a president, all the tough decisions are made at the hotel. Sounds very sensible to me 🙂 You can even buy a republic passport!
When I arrived, I found the Hotel was closed but Anita the manageress was very happy to open it so I could get some piccies of the hotel.
You can smell the history ..
It currently has a category 2 listing as a Historic building and is regarded as one of the most remote pubs in NZ.
As it was closed when I was there, I couldn’t try anything but they have an excellent reputation for great meals.
As you drive over the bridge from the Highway into Whangamomona, you feel as though you could be driving back in time 50 years or so. It’s like it’s all stopped still.
Whangamomona was established in 1895 as a service centre for the local farming community. Then, there were 300 or so residents. Now there are about 30 residents in the village.
The rail bridge at Whangamomona
The buildings are amazing. There is a General Store which looking square on looks like a reasonable sized store but when you look side on, it’s a about 4 ft deep as a display! These days like in most small towns, the strong community is based around the hotel.
In 1989, they rebelled against amalgamation and formed their own republic. You can even buy a passport.. At the hotel 🙂
A neat wee town, neat people and everywhere you look there is history
I was stressing a bit about this because I’d heard so many different opinions on how bad the road is, how to take it really quietly and so on.
I left Taurumunui about 9am and was on the road. The early part of it was easy with it all being sealed but what amazing landscapes and how they changed. From rolling hills with the wide river at the start, it changed to valleys and hills and then bush.
Click on the images for hi res or a slideshow I needn’t have worried as the road was pretty good. I was only doing 60-70k odd for most of the way which was just about right for Rafe and it was an easy run.
Joshua Morgan’s Grave
I stopped to have a look at Joshua Morgan’s grave at Tangarakau Gorge. He was in charge of the Survey team that set up the road through the Gorge but he died aged 35 in the bush of Peronitis. His widow went on to live until she was 85 in Auckland and she is buried with him in the gorge. The 12k’s odd of unsealed road in the middle I found quite slippery. I think most of it was done at about 40 odd k. The Moki tunnel was fun too. There are lots of side tracks off the main road so it pays to get the brochure before you start from I site in Taurumunui or Straford depending on where you start from. There are roads off to waterfalls, other wee settlements and the bridge to somewhere which is a concrete bridge built in the middle of nowhere and others.
To get to Whangamomona took about 2 hours from Taumarunui allowing for the odd stop for piccies and a look at Joshua’s grave.
Amazing countryside and well worth doing as you’ll see from the piccies. After a night of checking out the town, I was up bright an early and hit the trail again.
The road through to Straford was much easier being all sealed. There were two or three more saddles to go over. At the Strathmore Saddle, I stopped at the top and checked into the Internet and caught up with emails etc. From the top you could see Mt Taranaki in one direction and looking the other way, you could see Mts Ruapehu and Tongariro.
The secret is the advice I was given by a few, was take your time and don’t rush it. This is a trip which is well worth doing.
One of the great things about traveling on your own is that as most of the campgrounds charge by the person rather than by the park, it’s quite cheap to stay wherever you like. I’m meeting Fiona in Wellington later in the week so it’ll be time to be sensible again 🙂
I checked in at the Tauramunui Motor Camp which is beside the river. After meeting the owner who gave me a good run down on the road to Whangamomona and gave me a brochure, showed me where to park. He’s a character, an ex Merchant Navy seaman from the UK with lots of stories to tell. He was really helpful and offered several brochures on the highway which was great and gave me confidence for the trip. He was telling me, they’d had a huge amount of rain and as it was all grass parking, there were some no go areas with the grass being too soft. At $16 including a NZMCA discount for a powered site, I thought this was pretty good and it would enable me to use the new Philips induction plate I’d just got, being on power. These plates are so efficient. In with the frozen peas into a pot and after just over a minute or so, they’re ready to go. Cooking steaks or meat takes a little longer. Fantastic.
Nice Barbecue area outside the Kitchen
Herbs you can help yourself to.
Play area for the nippers
I went for a walk down to the front of the park and it borders on the river. A nice spot. Around the back of the camp were cabins in the trees and in the middle a playground for the kids and the ablutions, showers and Kitchen block. All nice and clean and in good shape. I was there on my own until about 7pm when two or three camper vans popped in. The place still felt empty but it is the middle of winter 🙂
A years ago or so, we found this spot and stayed here with our friends Rob, Helen and Chloe. With high cliffs all around with a river running through the middle, it’s an amazing spot. When we were there with Rob, Helen and Chloe in our way south. it was a bit warmer and there were people swimming in the river, a lovely spot.
There is a swing bridge which takes you leads you along the valley for some great walks up into into the bush into the valley. Plenty of level parking, picnic tables, Barbeques, swings and slides and some loos too. The best part of all this is that you can stay for free overnight as long as you have that Blue Sticker of Self Containment.
As you enter the park, you pass under the main trunk railway on a massive viaduct.
I just popped in for a look and to do a Internet speed test and get some photos but while I was there a train went through. You can hear it but being a couple of hills away, only just. To get there, head south out of Te Kuiti towards Bennydale and it’s a few K’s on the left. A nice spot to stay if you’re heading through that way.
The Netspeed Internet Speedtest
Test Date: 14/08/2016 2:30 PM
Download: 7.31 Mbps
Upload: 0.73 Mbps
Ping: 57 ms
You’ve got to hand it to the good folk of Otorohonga, they’ve certainly thought about standing out from the crowd with their public loos.
I was heading towards Tauramunui to do the Forgotten Highway and as I was approaching Otorohonga, I thought I’d stop at the Railway Cafe in the Railway Station around the behind the main shops. It was closed but I noticed the loos right across the road.
What a hoot having all the names on the door..
Something there for everyone !
Another cafe famous for its great coffee, with very easy parking for bigger Motorhomes, which you wouldn’t know was there.