Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Mighty Whanganui

Last weekend was a weekend like no other. It was a weekend that I had been waiting for since we arrived here last June. I had been counting down the days until we were able to paddle the Whanganui River. It is the 3rd longest river in New Zealand and is the only river to be considered one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. 

Sunset at our first campsite.
Self portrait on Day 1 - pre sunburn

Happy campers!

The river is of special and spiritual importance for Maori, who regard is as taonga – a special treasure – and as soon as we dipped our paddles into the water, we instantly understood their connection. Plus, with many stretches of white water and over 200 rapids, it was the journey of a lifetime!

The Whanganui River begins at the top of a volcanic mountain called Mt. Tongariro (where Kate and Nige got engaged!). It then travels North towards Taumarunui before heading South for about 260km towards Whanganui. The river is typically paddled in kayaks but we opted for "traditional Canadian canoes". For the first couple of days, we passed through the native tree and fern clad hills of the Whanganui National Park which lead to incredible deeply incised gorges that reached over 200 feet high on either side. For four days, we were blessed with sun filled, cloudless days and we found ourselves needing to fall into the river every hour on the hour to keep ourselves cooled off.

Luckily, we threw ourselves down the river before the peak season hit and so we were virtually on our own the whole time. We rented gear from an outfitters and chose campsites over huts. Nothing beat lying in the grass hills under blissfully starry night skies!

The four days flew by but they were absolutely some of the best days I’ve had here thus far. The region was simply too breathtaking for words and so, on that note, I will stop my typing here and share some more photos with you.

Another tremendous weekend spent in the NZ wilderness…

 A little frisbee action to go with our morning coffee before hitting the river.

You can practice yoga anywhere...

 ... Anytime.

 A room with (one heck of) a view.

 Taking a break to enjoy the view (and rest the arms).


 Low water levels at certain points.

 Sunshine all the time!


Meandering our way through the gorge.  

 One of the many caves along the route. It's amazing how strong the power of water can be.

 mini waterfall.

Pete takes a dip Post 8 hour paddle (in headwind).

 Morning on the river in between rapids. Calm as glass.

 Bad day for that guy!


A forest canopy as our rooftop. 

The stunning view from my nap.

Another breathtaking morning on the water 

 The 'organ pipes' (grooves in the stone gorge walls)


The mother of all caves near the end of our journey (where's the Peter?!).

Mother Nature's spa!

My last dip before callin 'er a day.


  1. Wow! What a great trip. The pictures are amazing. So envious.... It's minus 3 and snowing here today. Enjoy the sunshine!

  2. What fantastic photos, mine dont come out like these.