The 10 tunnels of The Forgotten World is a testament to its rugged and untamed region.
As a tribute to the hard work our early pioneers went through to colonise this land, we've comprised a series of 10 tunnels within The Forgotten World. All these tunnels were hand dug with picks and shovels and can be easily accessed by car on your own adventure. Starting in Stratford the trip will take you around 7 hours ending in Whangamomona for a quiet beer at the local pub.
1. Huinga Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1894
Not much is known about the construction of this tunnel, which was built in 1893. The original roof and linings were made out of native timber leaving the sides exposed of its solid papa cliff. Although it is no longer there, one unusual feature of the tunnel was its large timber doors at one end, there purpose was to try and control the draft.
Huinga Tunnel has had numerous problems over the years with earth and papa falling away. By 1936 the tunnel had collapsed crushing two repair trucks who were trying the fix the rotting roof. It wasn't until 1958 that the tunnel was fitted with concrete and declared safe.
The Huinga Tunnel is still in use to this day and is a testament to the hard work over the years which can be admired by all visitors who drive through.
2. Makahu Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1907
The original journey from Strathmore to Makahu was a small pack track over the windy hills. By 1902 there was a thriving community in Makahu with local dairy produce from the Makahu Co-operative Factory requiring an easier way to get the products out.
In 1907 the building of the Makahu (Brewer Road) Tunnel was commissioned. Construction was hard, settlers used picks shovels and wheelbarrows to remove the steep grade of the hill. Many in the community protested the tunnel, saying it was to close to the top however once constructed it would save more than 3 km for travelers.
Originally made out of wood with a timber lining, by 1919 the tunnel collapsed and was again closed for two years while workers relined the tunnel with solid concert pillars. These concert pillars help make the Makahu Tunnel one of the most attractive tunnels in Taranaki as its so perfectly shaped.
Today the Makahu Tunnel acts as an access point to the farming community out east, Te Wera Forest, the Bridge to Somewhere at Aotuhia Station and the start of the Matemateaonga Walk within the Whanganui National Park.
3. Kiore Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1910
The Matau Junction located in the original Clifton County began surveying in 1893. This was a extremely harsh land making it difficult to access and communications were bad. Matau was one of two villages meeting settlers needs with a school and shops opening. Unfortunately the road was still too poor to establish a dairy factory so with the construction of the Stratford to Ongarue railway it was decided in 1910 that a tunnel was needed.
Kiore Tunnel stands as one of the most treasured tunnels in Taranaki. This is because to this day the tunnel still features it original cross section and has required no widening or lowering over the years.
The completion of this tunnel marked as a life line for the local community. Its construction allowed settlers to sell their goods and gave greater value to their land.
4. Tarata Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1904
The Tarata Tunnel was originally dug by hand in 1904 at a cost of £315. In recent years the historic tunnel has undergone enlargements to allow larger vehicles accessing the farmers in this area. This is one of the smaller tunnels in the Forgotten World hidden away in the harsh back country.
5. Uruti Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1916
The Uruti Tunnel, sometimes known as the Tangitu tunnel, was constructed in 1916 connecting two roads through a steep ridge. Up until its construction, the main access for local farmers was from Stratford via Kiore.
The Uruti Tunnel is notoriously unstable, over the years its closure has been proposed several times however it has managed to be maintained and remains open to this day.
Accessing this tunnel will take you to the Uruti Valley which is famous for its use in The Last Samurai movie featuring Tom Cruise. You will still be able to see the remaining buildings used during filming.
6. Moki Tunnel West
Date Constructed: 1913
The Moki Road West was constructed in 1913 and is sometimes known as the Western Kiwi Road Tunnel.
7. Kiwi Road Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1913
The Kiwi Road Tunnel was constructed in 1915 and is sometimes known as the Eastern Kiwi Road Tunnel.
8. Okau Road Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1932
The Okau Road Tunnel was constructed under the Government employment scheme in 1932 to help during the depression. The contract was awarded to Charles Grey and allowed greater access to the Ahititi community.
9. Mount Messenger Tunnel
Date Constructed: 1916
The Gothic arch of the Mount messenger tunnel was constructed in 1916 as a single lane structure. By 1970 it had become too small for the ever increasing large vehicles moving north so in 1983 it was enlarged to its current size today.
10. Moki Tunnel (Hobbits Hole)
Date Constructed: 1935
The Moki Tunnel was one of the five tunnels proposed by Joshua Morgan, the famous surveyor who helped establish the road later known as the Forgotten World Highway. To this date, the Moki Tunnel is the only one of Morgans proposed tunnels to have been constructed along the route between Tahora and Mount Damper.
Constructed by the Public Works Department, this tunnel was dug using two power jack hammers powered by coal fired compressors. The coal was supplied from the Tangarakau Gorge mine, brought to the site by local settler Mr Ron McCartie.
The Moki Tunnel is 180 meters long. Originally it was 5 meters tall, however, it was lowered an additional 2 metres in 1985 by Colin Boyd with the introduction of stock trucks who required access.
Around three decades ago an unknown traveller nailed a sign naming the Moki Tunnel as the Hobbits Hole. This nickname eventually stuck and is still used to this day. The Moki Tunnel is seen as one of the remote tourist attractions in Taranaki, you will often find visitors standing around taking photos or appreciating the unusual and well thought out structure.