The longest navigable river in New Zealand, The Whanganui River (Te Awa o Whanganui – its native name) is an explorers dream. Whether you are a cyclist, hiker, canoeist or just a casual passer by a stop here is an enthralling one. This is sure to be a highlight of your trip to New Zealand, follow the road that winds a long the river and edges towards the Whanganui National Park and take in a truly special journey where you can appreciate the tranquillity of nature’s beauty.
The river is so sacred and special to the local Maori tribe that the river itself has been granted the same legal rights as a human being. This highlights its magnificent beauty and how connected the Maori people are to New Zealand’s natural surroundings.
For over 800 years, Maori have lived here building marae and kainga (villages), many descendants of the original inhabitants call it home today too. It was discovered by westerners in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, which opened the river up to tourists enjoying activities such as luxury leisure boat cruises.
The best way to see this river is by getting up close and stuck in, the upper Whanganui River is the best spot for canoeing, kayaking and seeing the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’ Constructed in 1936, its purpose was to improve access to the Mangapurua Valley Soldiers settlement; it now sits totally desolate deep in the forest, hidden away from the world. A short hike gives you the unique opportunity to see the stunning views from the bridge.