At the heart of Whanganui National Park lies the Whanganui River, this gentle river flows for 170km through one of the largest tracts of untouched lowland podocarp forests in the North Island. Pipiriki and Whakahoro are the main gateways into the park.
From Whakahoro you can experience the Whanganui Journey, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and the only Great Walk that isn’t actually a walk. Instead for this 3 day journey you canoe or kayak 87km along New Zealand’s longest navigable river, steeped in Maori and European history with deep gorges and bush-clad valleys. Guided trips are available and due to the gentle gradient, this is a perfect canoe or kayak trip for beginners. You can break up your paddling experience with a short 40 minute walk to the Bridge to Nowhere, an abandoned settlement which has gradually been reclaimed by the surrounding forest.
Further along, Tieke Kainga offers accommodation at a local marae, providing a fantastic and authentic insight into local cultures and traditions. There are many short walks in Whanganui National Park, the Department of Conservation website has detailed information on activities in the area as well as the wildlife you might encounter. For those short on time, the Bridge to Nowhere Jet Boat Tours offer an exhilarating way to experience the river, your guide will share their rich knowledge of the flora and fauna of the park and the history behind the abandoned settlement.
This return Jet Boat trip takes you into the middle reaches of the Whanganui River. Pristine native bush cloaks the banks and you will see deep gorges covered with ferns, caves, rapids and other unique and amazing scenery. Your guide will share stories of the Awa (Maori for river) with you and show you some of the secrets of this historic and cultural icon. Along the way you will stop at the Mangaio Gorge and the Manganui-O-Te-Au River, home to the endangered Blue Duck. Continuing on deeper into this wilderness area you'll arrive at the Mangapurua Landing. Hear the native tui and bellbirds and catch a glimpse of the woodpigeon. A 40 minute walk through the bush takes you to the historic Bridge to Nowhere - gateway to the Valley of Abandoned Dreams.
Bring a picnic lunch to have at the Bridge, complimented by the tea/coffee and biscuits provided and enjoy tales from your guide of the historic Mangapurua Valley and its pioneering people. A return walk to the boat and trip back down river to Pipiriki completes this unique experience suitable all ages.
A popular style of touring is to take a preplanned self drive road trip. After a thorough consultation with you we expertly plan and create your self drive tour around New Zealand. These tours allow you the freedom to explore at leisure with the comfort and security of pre-booked activities and accommodations. Route suggestions, APP guidance plus local support mean your New Zealand vacation is in safe hands. See self drive ideas here
If you prefer to let someone else do the work then an escorted small group tour might be for you. Our sister company at New Zealanbd Coach has a range of hand picked small group itineraries are ideal if you prefer to travel in the company of like minded people. Tours are limited to a certain number of participants which means different accommodation options, exclusive activities and of course a knowledgeable guide ensures you get to see the best of New Zealand. See small group tours here.
A private guided tour offers true flexibility and the security of a knowledgeable local guiding you all the way. Well planned itineraries ensure you see exactly what you want to see but with your own driver-guide you can adapt to suit the day or your preference. 100% tailor-made to suit you a private tour is a great option when travelling as a small group. All our self drive itineraries can be replanned and priced using a private driver and guide, so if it is what you fancy just contact us to discuss.
All North Island touring ideas - See here to explore the diverse North Island - itinerary suggestions.
All South Island touring ideas - Iconic scenery and landscapes await on this made for touring island. See itinerary suggestions
All Nationwide touring ideas - See the best of New Zealand on these all encompassing touring itinerary ideas