OMAKA LODGE – Experience The Forgotten World

Omaka Lodge is located just 7kms from the northern end of New Zealand’s iconic Forgotten World Highway, so is ideally located to explore and experience the mystery and history of The Forgotten World area. The phrase ‘The Forgotten World’ was first used to describe the remote area between Taumarunui and Stratford that is traversed by the 150km-long State Highway 43. The rugged but beautiful nature of the isolated road, not to mention the ghost towns it passes through, led to it being known as The Forgotten World Highway. As time has marched on, the phrase ‘The Forgotten World’ has evolved to encompasses a broad area in the central North Island’s Ruapehu District that can be experienced by road, rail or river.

The Forgotten World Highway


The Forgotten World is a highly memorable 150-kilometre road trip, and Omaka Lodge is a convenient place to stay before commencing your journey south, or at the end of your journey north. But whichever direction you travel the Highway, you’ll find it an unforgettable experience.

The road climbs several saddles with spectacular views, and dips down into numerous valleys, mostly bush clad. There’s a one-way tunnel, one-way bridges, a narrow section of road carved out of a cliff face in the Tangarakau River gorge. There are the remains of several old settlements en route, including Ohura (a short side-trip from the ForgottenHighway) and the iconic township of Whangamomona.

Almost halfway along the Forgotten World Highway, Whangamomona is a great place to stop for for a break – read the heritage signboards for an insight to life as it was, or pop into the Whangamomona Hotel for a bite and a drink – rated as one of New Zealand’s top 10 country pubs by Lonely Planet.

One of the best and most fascinating ways to experience the Forgotten World is through a Forgotten World Adventures experience – in fact, it was a Rail Cart experience that first brought us to Taumarunui back in 2017!  

Abandoned since 2009, the 142km long Stratford-Okahukura Line (SOL) with its 24 tunnels and 90 plus bridges, all hand-built, traverses the Forgotten World, this remote and seldom seen region of the Central North Island. Forgotten World Adventures are experts in guided experiences throughout this spectacular destination. Choose from six unique adventures, each featuring an iconic self-driven rail cart journey between Taumarunui and Stratford. Enjoy a front row seat as you travel through the breathtaking, ever-changing landscape whilst discovering our country’s cultural and pioneering history. Experiences can also include a jet boat ride along the majestic Whanganui River, helicopter flight over the Whanganui National Park and visits to the unique Whangamōmona Hotel and Bridge to Nowhere amongst other historic landmarks and attractions. Be transported to a bygone era bursting with intrigue and embark on a truly enchanting experience.

Forgotten World Adventures

Ride the rails

Whanganui River and the Bridge To Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere
Experiencing The Forgotten World by the Whanganui River has been occurring for well over a century, and is perhaps even more popular today. At 290km long, the Whanganui River is New Zealand’s third-longest river, and was historically navigable by riverboat and paddle-steamers as far as Taumarunui – 230km upstream from the seaside city of Whanganui. Nowadays the river isn’t used as a primary means of transport, but as a means to experience The Forgotten World from the unique perspective offered by canoes and kayaks trips. For a less sedate option, jetboat trips on the Whanganui River are also available.

One of the most interesting river trips in the Forgotten World is to New Zealand’s iconic ‘Bridge To Nowhere’, a concrete road bridge that has no roads leading to or from it. Built over 1935-36, the bridge was intended to service a farm settlement that was being developed. The remoteness and difficulty of access meant the farms were abandoned, and are reverting to bush. All that remains is the Bridge To Nowhere, now one of the definitive icons of The Forgotten World. Scott & Chris visited the Bridge To Nowhere on a jet boat tour in 2017 and found it a very thought-provoking and interesting experience.

Omaka Lodge

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