Canoeing the Whanganui River
There’s a wealth of reminders of pre-European history to be explored on the Whanganui River, as well as poignant examples of the European’s vain attempts to tame the river.
There’s still the magnificent scenery that had the Whanganui River journey being described at one stage as the “Eighth Great Wonder of the World”.
And there’s a rare chance to really get away from it all for a few days in perfect safety – something that is almost unique in this troubled world of today. No telephones…no televisions. Just you and nature.
For many visitors, one of the highlights is being able to stay at the Tieke Marae. Formerly a Department of Conservation hut, Tieke gives visitors and opportunity to share a living culture in its very simplest form.
A Whanganui River canoe trip is perfect for people of all ages and all experience levels.
Trips can range from one day on both the Ongarue and Whanganui Rivers up to the five day expedition from Taumarunui to Pipiriki.
Others take a two day paddle to Whakahoro to make the most of the exciting rapids on the upper reaches, while some put in at Whakahoro for the most popular three day trip through the river gorges.
The normal canoeing season is from Labour Weekend (the third weekend in October) through to Easter (March/April) with the busiest time being over the Christmas holiday period.
There are only campsites on the Taumarunui to Whakahoro section, with the John Coull Hut (24 bunks) and Bridge to Nowhere Lodge being supplemented by campsites between Whakahoro and Pipiriki. Tieke Marae was rebuilt over the winter of 2002 and now offers 20 bunks as well as a campsite. The Whakahoro Hut has 12 bunks, but cooking now has to be done outside under one of the shelters. The others have gas cooking.
For those with limited time, a great day’s canoeing can be had by launching at Cherry Grove, in Taumarunui, and exiting at Ohinepane, with nearly 50 of the 249 named rapids on this section. Two other one day options are available from 2004 – from Ohinepane to Kirikau (about three hours) and Ohinepane to Whakahoro (about six hours).
In normal flows the Whanganui is an extremely safe river to canoe. There are only a few graded rapids on the river, with the most exciting, the Ngaporo and Autapu, on the last day going into Pipiriki.If it’s real white water adventure you want, then you have to go elsewhere. Many of the rapids on the upper reaches allow you to sneak by down the side, but half the fun on hot summer days is in falling out and picking yourself up again at the bottom of the rapid.
Your vehicles can be looked after in a secure areas and we can arrange to have your car relocated to your exit point for an extra charge if you want to make your own way home from there. Blazing Paddles Canoe Adventures offers only canoe hire, but we can arrange for guided trips if you prefer.