Sparsely populated and vastly wild, the majority of New Zealand's longest navigable river is an untouched, natural wonderland. Keep an eye out for plump Kererū (wood pigeon), as they crash in and out of the foliage, feasting on the abundance of wild berries. If you are lucky, you may see the Pekapeka (long-tailed bats) fluttering overhead at dusk. The rare whio (blue duck), the Tūī and New Zealand's iconic Kiwi make the most of the abundance of natural resources in their home along the banks of the Whanganui River. There has been a noticeable increase in birdsong since Kia Wharite, a partnership to protect some of the region's precious taonga (treasure), began in the Whanganui National Park in 2008.
With mist parting the valley floor as you slowly drift through time, the Whanganui River is a mystical place steeped in a rich cultural and spiritual history. You can visit Tīeke Kāinga (a Maori settlement) and learn about the intimate connection that Whanganui Iwi (local tribe) have with the awa (river). For something a little different, you can take a break from the water at Mangapurua landing and walk to the iconic Bridge to Nowhere. Lost deep in the forest and completely isolated from civilisation, this lonely concrete bridge was built for returned World War 1 servicemen to reach a now-abandoned settlement.
You can easily book your canoe trip down the Whanganui River here. Choose the 5-day journey from Taumarunui to Pipiriki (145 km), or the shorter, 3-day journey starting at Whakahoro (87 km), featuring the most scenic stretches of the river.whanganui-journey-brochure.pdf (5.57MB)