Whanganui National Park
Established in 1986, the Whanganui National Park is an abundance of tramping tracks that weave through wild lowland forests, river trips down the powerful Whanganui River and is steeped in history and Maori culture. The park is located in the central North Island, the township of Taumarunui is to the north and Whanganui is to the south. The small towns of Pipiriki, Ohinepane, and Whakahoro are main gateways to the river itself. The untamed upper and middle reaches of the Whanganui River surround this park, which is New Zealand's longest navigable waterway. Beginning beneath the central plateau's giant volcanoes, the 329-kilometre river winds its way to the Tasman Sea through a continuous procession of forested valleys and hills. Once an important transport route for Maori, and home to many pa (defensive forts) that were constructed on its headlands, the Whanganui River is now used as enjoyment for many types of water sports including kayakers. The exciting paddling activity that begins in Taumaranui and finishes in Pipiriki is known as the Whanganui journey. The Whanganui National Park is at the centre of a large sedimentary basin so most of the rocks are mudstones that are easily sculpted by the river into enthralling and fascinating shapes. It has a very distinctive landscape of river valley systems with vertical slopes, sharp ridges and is almost completely covered in native forest. There is much to be seen by bird watchers in Whanganui National Park. You can hope to see kaka and yellow-crowned parakeets among the large numbers of kereru (our native pigeon), fantail, tui, riroriro (grey warbler) and miromiro (tomtit). The DoC (Department of Conservation) have a focus on the beautiful whio (blue duck) and it’s numbers are steadily increasing. Listen out at night, as it’s possible to hear the call from the North Island brown kiwi. There are three ‘Great Walk’ hikers huts within the park that the DoC provides, as well as a large number of campsites along the path of the Whanganui journey. You’re not required to book for the huts, and there are also ‘serviced’ category huts along the Matemateonga Track. Along with these, other types of overnight accommodation can be found in the town of Taumaranui, which is located close to the northern end of the park. Don’t forget the city of Wanganui provides a vast array of accommodation at the southern end as well. Between Wanganui and Pipiriki there are a few bed and breakfast establishments. Although it's water-based, the Whanganui Journey is classed as one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks'. The stunning 145 kilometre river trip runs from Taumarunui to the village of Pipiriki, taking about five days to complete by canoe or kayak. It is also possible to take a three day journey from Whakahoro to Pipiriki. There are jet boats that operate from both ends of the Whanganui River, giving visitors the chance to experience rewarding day trips into the heart of the park. Jet boat is the easiest way to access the famous 'Bridge to Nowhere' - an unforgettable relic from the past. The Matemateaonga Track is one of the most popular long walks in the park. It follows an old Maori trail and usually takes about four days to complete. The Mangapurua Track, which usually takes 3 - 4 days, starts at Whakahoro and ends at the 'Bridge to Nowhere'. The majority of people walk into the Bridge and take a jet boat out. The most popular walk on the river is the 1.5 hour return trip from the river to the 'Bridge to Nowhere'. Further south is the Atene Skyline Track, an excellent one day walk. Travel Guide New Zealand proudly presents this listing to you. Hopefully, when you visit Wanganui and are looking for places to visit you will consider Whanganui National Park. And if you do decide to visit Whanganui National Park remember to come back to Travel Guide and share your experience.