Taumarunui is the gateway to Tongariro National Park on State Highway 4 and the Forgotten World Highway to Taranaki. The town is also the historic centre for the North Island rail line. So the old carriage “graveyard” on the main highway, complete with graffiti, is a curiosity.

There is a walking track along the Ongarue River on the west side of the town, starting on River Road. Follow this to get to the confluence of the Whanganui and Ongarue rivers. The river banks here are picturesque and it’s the starting point for the Whanganui Journey, a multi-day canoe trip on the Whanganui River. Although a boat trip, DOC describes it as one of the Great Walks. Continue on the track east along the Whanganui River then head north on Morero Terrace to complete the loop.

For history buffs, there is the unusual top hat memorial. The Māori name for the King Country is Te Rohe Potae (the area of the hat) and it was the last region to hold out against European colonisation. The hat was supposedly thrown on a map of the North Island to denote the area that remained under the control of Māori Kingitanga following the New Zealand War in the Waikato.

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