After our hike to Mount Damper Falls, we headed back toward Pohokura. On the way, we planned to stop in at Whangamomona, the fabled Republic of the Forgotten World Highway.
As we drove along, I asked Andy to pull over by some dilapidated shacks I’d seen the day before.
They were on the road to the Tangarakau ghost town, so I’m not sure if they’re a remnant, or something separate.
Back on the road, we wound up and down saddles, and eventually found ourselves in Whangamomona. As the largest “town” on the Forgotten World Highway, you can’t miss it.
It’s also home to the only restaurant on the highway, the Whangamomona Hotel.
We wandered around the sunny town center, which takes all of one minute to cross.
“What makes Whangamomona so special?” you might ask. In 1989, regional council boundaries shifted and this town that was once part of the Taranaki Region was suddenly part of the Manawatu-Wanganui Region. The change didn’t sit well with residents of “The Whanga” as they call it, because they’d always been a part of Taranaki. In protest, they declared themselves the Republic of Whangamomona on 1 November 1989. Republic Day is now a big celebration that draws visitors from all over, and you can even get your passport stamped at the hotel.
The best part of all, in my opinion, would be the presidents who have lead the Republic since its birth. As you’ll see, the second and third presidents were Billy Lee Goat and Tai the Poodle.
They take it very seriously, of course. They even elected a woman as president in 2015, showing they’re pretty progressive for a town in the middle of the Forgotten World. To be fair, she wasn’t elected until a goat and a dog had already beat her to the punch.
Alright, time for some pub grub! (Look closely and you’ll see a little Jack Russell, wandering around like he owns the town, which he very well might).
We were pretty early and soon found out they weren’t serving dinner for another hour. We wiled away the time with a couple beers (small ones for me as the driver) and a game of pool.
There was even a resident cat, who wasn’t at all impressed with human attention.
Photos on the wall showed the past Presidents of the Republic in all their glory, both bipeds and quadrupeds. Here’s Billy Lee Goat (left, with horns) and Tai the Poodle.
Apparently, Tai even survived an “assassination attempt” by a bigger dog.
After a hearty meal, it was time to say farewell to the Republic.
If you’ve got some time, this article gives a great, entertaining picture of the unparalleled Whangamomona and its significant history.
Back on the farm, everything was peaceful and bathed in golden light.
The cows had moved pretty close the the house, so we all went to say hello, one of us more enthusiastically than the others.
The cows weren’t at all bothered by this short-legged loudmouth from the big city. They’re definitely used to farm dogs, and I’m sure they can tell a real one when they see it. Does this look like a real farm dog?
With the shadows growing longer, it was time for a wander around the farm.
They do a lot of shearing here, and have the fleece-strewn shed to prove it.
I’d spotted a hill from our porch that I was determined to get to the top of, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The sun was just beginning to sink beneath the horizon.
Andy was back at the house, so I had to get creative with the self-timer.
What a beautiful little valley to call home, even if only for a few days.
Here’s the hill I climbed, looking back from the questionable bridge I crossed to get there.
As the sky grew darker, we were treated to a stunning moon, just shy of full.
I’ll leave you with a couple shots of our housemate, Kitten. She came in through the cat door at night as soon as Higgs was closed in our room, often pawing at our door since she’s used to sharing a room with guests. As you can see, she doesn’t go hungry!
Next up, we hike through a century-old logging tunnel on the farm, and finish up our lovely trip to the Forgotten World.