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River Activities

In 2017, the Whanganui River became the first river in the world to be recognised as a legal person.

I am the river; the river is me.

The Whanganui National Park
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The great variety of activity rivers in the Ruapehu region which offer everything from peaceful canoe treks to white water rafting. Paddle along the Tongariro River, kayak through the rocky boulder chutes of the Whanganui River and take in the stunning scenery of the Whanganui National Park or take a raft along the Grade 5 rapids of the Rangitikei River.

The unforgettable Whanganui River Journey is part of the New Zealand Great Walks network. With a length of 290 km, it is New Zealand’s longest navigable river.

Beginning on the slopes of the active Mount Tongariro on the Central Plateau, it flows to Taumarunui. From there it flows south-west through the farming hills of the King Country, then on into the forests of the Whanganui National Park, past such historic river settlements as Pipiriki and Jerusalem.

In times gone by, the river was the only transport route through these dense forests, first for waka and later for steam-driven boats. As a result, Whanganui iwi has a deep connection with their river.


You can journey through this otherwise remote area by jet boat, multi-day canoe or kayak trip down the Whanganui river, experiencing its scenic beauty, history and cultural significance.

The 145 km journey from Taumarunui to Pipiriki takes an average of 5 days to complete by canoe. A shorter, 3 day journey from Whakahoro to Pipiriki (87 km) is the more popular option, featuring the most scenic stretches of the river. Several canoe operators offer both guided and freedom rentals for the more experienced paddlers. Daily shuttles depart from Ohakune to the Taumarunui, Whakahoro and Pipiriki, making for a hassle-free trip.

Time of year:
Due to the mountainous nature of the Whanganui National park, trips in the park are best enjoyed between spring – autumn although some operators may run trips outside this period.


It’s a very remote journey, and once you start on the river below Whakahoro there is no turning back, so make sure you are well prepared. There is very little communication/phone coverage in this area, so it’s advisable to carry an emergency locator beacon (local operators hire these out)Whanganui Journey fees


The Whanganui Journey Great Walk season operates from 1 October to 30 April. During this season you must pay your fees by purchasing a Great Walk Ticket. During off-peak season Backcountry Hut Pass or hut tickets are required. Fees must be paid before you start the track. Passes can be book online through the DOC website.

There are a number of options for exploring the Whanganui National Park and Whanganui River by jet boat, canoe or kayak or walk, with The Matemateaonga being the most popular longer trips (3 - 4 days one way) and there are two huts, a bunkhouse and 11 campsites where you can stay overnight.

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