The Whanganui River The Whanganui River winds its way from the mountains to the Tasman Sea and is part of New Zealand's Great Walks network. Today this remote river provides a wilderness haven for unique outdoor adventure. Very few places in the world can take you a canoe on a river for several days totally cut off from the pressures of civilisation. People of all fitness levels and ages can experience the Whanganui Journey.
Early Maori cultivated the sheltered terraces and built elaborate eel weirs along river channels where eels and lamprey were known to converge. Every bend of the river had kaitiaki (guardian), which controlled the mauri (life force) of that place.
The mana (prestige) of a settlement depended upon the way in which food supplies and living areas were looked after for the benefit of the tribe and visitors. Te Atihaunui a Paparangi people settled the valley from 1100AD.
The land surrounding the river in only about one million years old. Formed of soft sandstone and mudstone (papa) from the ocean-bed, it has been eroded by water to form sharp ridges, deep gores, sheer papa cliffs and waterfalls.
Over this land has grown broadleaf-podocarp forest of rata, rewarewa, rimu, tawa, kamahi, and kowhai with beech dominant on the ridge tops. Tree ferns and plants that cling to the steep riverbanks are very distinctive.
Bird species such as kereru (native wood pigeon), piwakawaka(fantail), tui, toutouwai(robin), riroriro, (Grey Warbler) and miromiro (tomtit) are often seen and heard. The call of the brown kiwi can often be heard at night.
National Pak Village is the natural destination from which to start and finish your 1,2,3 or 5 day Whanganui River Experience. Both Kayaks and open Canadian canoes can be used on the river, though most people find Canadians more convenient to carry bulky gear.
The Bridge To Nowhere
The bridge was left to the ravages of nature when the Mangaparua Farming settlement was abandoned in the early 1900s. This is a 40km track between Whakahoro and Mangapurua Landing on the banks of the Whanganui River and usually takes three days to do the walk. There are no huts. However, there are an abundance of ideal campsites on open grassy flats and small side streams to provide ample water. Arrangements with a river jet can be made for the return trip to Whakahoro or to transfer to the Matemateaonga Walkway.
Tieke Marae Tieke Marae was one of many old Pa on the Whanganui River. Visitors to the Marae will participate in a Powhiri (Welcome). They will be met at the riverbank where the Powhiri will be explained. You will be called onto the marae and shown where to sit. The Tieke people will speak first, usually followed by a song. One of the visitors will be expected to reply in any language, which may be followed by a song. It is traditional for visitors to lay gift (Koha) on the ground after speaking.