How would you like to experience true Kiwi hospitality in a comfortable, friendly hotel that really is in the middle of nowhere? Welcome to Whangamomona – a tiny township that declared itself independent from the rest of New Zealand in 1988. The decision was made by locals after the local government shifted district boundaries, a choice that didn’t sit well with the residents of this unique corner of New Zealand. Located on State Highway 43, otherwise known as the Forgotten World Highway, the Whangamomona (pronounced wonga – ma – mona) Hotel has been welcoming guests for over 100 years, providing opportunities to rub shoulders with the local residents and get a real feel for rural life in New Zealand. There’s no internet and very limited phone reception, meaning this is a wonderfully remote country escape.
Recharge after your road trip with a comfortable bed and hearty home-cooked meal
The only way to access Whangamomona is via the Forgotten State Highway. You can arrive from Stratford in the West or Taumarunui in the East. The journey is best taken during daylight hours as the road conditions can be poor. Watch out for sheep, cows and goats on the loose; don’t forget you are in one of New Zealand’s most rural regions.
Whangamomona Hotel boasts 16 double or twin rooms, all of which are spacious with good sized windows. The bathroom and shower facilities are shared; however, they are well-equipped and close to the rooms. The nightly tariff of $75 NZD (~48 USD) includes a continental buffet-style breakfast served in the large dining room, which has an interesting array of local photographs on the walls. The breakfast has a wide range of fruit, cereal and toast on offer as well as tea, coffee and juice. You can enjoy dinner in the hotel bar or dining room where lamb shank or the recommended Kiwi classic of pea, pie and pud (a minced meat pie served with mashed potato and peas) are on the menu.
Without a doubt the best thing about your stay at Whangamomona Hotel will be the classic country-style hospitality of the owners, Richard and Vicki. This husband and wife team will go above and beyond to make your stay both comfortable and fun. They have a great sense of humour and a warm-hearted nature typical of rural New Zealanders. I accidentally left my coat and winter hat behind in my hotel room and they kindly posted it to my address in Wellington free of charge.
Get your passport stamped by the hotel for a quirky souvenir
For a reminder of the great time you’ve had in Whangamomona you can pay a couple of dollars to get your passport stamped with the official ‘Republic of Whangamomona’ stamp, or purchase a Republic passport if you fancy becoming a dual citizen. Although just a bit of fun, the stamp is recognised by the New Zealand government and all money raised goes towards the upkeep of the republic so you are giving back to the community by partaking in this fun gimmick.
Drink with the locals at the lively hotel bar
Whangamomona Hotel gets notoriously packed on weekends as rural folk flock from far and wide to have a couple of beers and watch some sport at the only establishment for miles around. There is a wide range of wine and spirits on offer as well as local ales on tap. During the week you can expect a quieter evening rubbing shoulders with fellow travellers and friendly locals. The bar has a pool table and if you are up for it the regulars love to challenge visitors to a game or two.
Take part in Republic Day, Whangamomona’s biannual independence festival
Every other January, Whangamomona goes all-out to celebrate Republic Day. The Whagamomona Hotel is the focus of the festival which sees the local population increase from 40 to over 3,000. Popular rural competitive pass-times such as gumboot throwing, sheep racing, possum skinning and whip cracking are organised in the town centre. If you wish to visit the hotel for Republic Day it is recommended to book far in advance.
Experience pure New Zealand at the Whangamomona Hotel
If you want to feel like one of the locals and get a feel for proper Kiwi hospitality, a visit to Whangamomona along the Forgotten World Highway is a must. This is a land founded on farming and rural life; where better to experience that than in the country’s most remote hotel? The hotel not only offers a comfortable place to spend the night but a chance to exchange yarns with the local characters and explore one of New Zealand’s finest hidden gems.
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