Whanganui River

The Whanganui River is a major river in the North Island; it is the only Great Walk that is a river journey. It is the country’s third-longest river and has special legal status as a person. And, rich in history, it travels through the beautiful but remote Whanganui National Park.

It was once the main arterial route into New Zealand’s North Island interior. Home, initially, to the indigenous Maori of Te Atihaunui a Paparangi, it was developed into a trading route by subsequent European settlers.

The longest navigable river in New Zealand, it traverses over 200km of countryside in its winding journey through the Whanganui National Park to the Tasman sea at Whanganui. Views travelling along it offer insights into a history of wars, riverboat trading, settlement era flour mills, and include abandoned mansions and the Bridge to Nowhere.

The stretch of river between Taumarunui and Pipiriki is the only river journey that is part of the New Zealand Great Walks system. Known as ‘The Whanganui Journey’, the full trip takes around five days.

Tracks that form part of the Mountains to Sea trail, one of nineteen that comprise New Zealand’s national cycleway project, are being built on the banks of the river.

Beautifully captured on the silver screen, the Whanganui River was the location and inspiration for, Hollywood movie, ‘The River Queen’. It has the legal status of a person. This means the river has the same rights and responsibilities as you or I.