Canoe or Kayak down the tranquil Whanganui River
Deep inside on of the National Park’s lies flows the Whanganui River, one of New Zealand’s longest stretches of river, eventually revealing itself out of the hidden valleys and forest and connecting to the Tasman Sea. The river is over 300 kilometres long.
The Whanganui National Park has an impressive array of terrains, from the river itself sliding and turning its ways through the park’s valleys, to the forest surrounds that arch over the waters edge.
For bird lover’s there are a great number of species which, with the help of the department of conservation have begun increasing in numbers. Even the ‘whio’ (blue duck) has been spotted more often as of recent. If you’re at the national park at night you may even hear cries of the North Island Brown Kiwi.
What to do
Along the Whanganui River, you can take a canoe/kayak journey over 5 days, however there is also a 3 day option. The main trip takes nearly 150 kilometres and goes from Taumarunui to Pipiriki. It is also heralded as one of the great New Zealand River trips for its peace, tranquillity and amazing views from within the valley.
For a quicker option, a jet boat can take you into the centre of the park from both sides of the river. Going by jet boat is also a great way to get to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ that crosses high above the river but does not lead to any roads. It was constructed in 1936 as part of the Mangapurua settlement but due to the war all funding and construction was stopped in ’42, with the bridge being the last remnant.
As for avid walkers and hikers, there is the Matemateaonga Track that can take up to 4 days. Plus, there is the Mangapurua Track which is around 3-4 days, beginning at Whakahoro and finishing at the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. Many people walk to the bridge and then take the jet boat back out. For a shorter walk to the Bridge is a 1.5 hour return journey from the river.
Where to stay
The Department of Conservation offers 3 excellent huts and many campsites at excellent spots along the main track (Whanganui Journey). Outside of the park to the north, in Taumarunui there are different varieties of accommodation. And in Wanganui south of the park there are also some good options. Plus from Wanganui to Pipiriki there are some B&B’s.