Journey through a timeless wilderness on New Zealand’s longest navigable river and marvel at one of our greatest scenic wonders.
The Whanganui Journey runs between Taumaranui and Pipiriki has been added to the Great Walks system because of its outstanding appeal as a recreational travel route for canoeists and kayakers. The Grade 2 river can be enjoyed by people of all ages, even without previous canoeing experience. The challenge of negotiating 120 rapids is guaranteed to make the trip interesting for everyone.
Canadian canoes are a popular choice for the 5 day, 145 km journey, because of their inherent stability and load carrying capacity. Many travellers use sea kayaks for a more individual and self-reliant approach to the trip. Canoes, kayaks, life jackets and waterproof drums can be hired from several operators. Inflatable dinghies and rafts also provide a fun-filled float trip on the river. Whatever mode of travel you choose, once underway it is a serious commitment to follow the river all the way to Pipiriki, as the last 88 km is without road access.
A Great Walks hut and campsite pass is needed for multi-day trips on the river. The pass can be obtained from visitor centres in main towns around the Whanganui National Park region, such as Taumaranui, Ohakune, National Park and Raetihi. The pass is valid for 7 days and allows you to stay in the 3 huts and numerous campsites spread along the river at convenient intervals. The huts are Whakahoro, John Coull and Tieke Marae.
Fascinating relics of early Maori settlement can be seen along the way, including; ancient fortified village (pa) sites, historic churches, old villages (kainga) and unusual war and peace poles (nui). At Mangapurua Landing, a short walk takes you to the famous ‘Bridge To Nowhere’, the legacy of a farming development scheme that failed.
The Whanganui River scenery is stunning, with moss covered vertical cliffs, narrow gorges, picturesque campsites, sandy beaches, unspoiled bush and the thrill of riding moving water. It’s an exhilarating experience.