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Canoeing

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 and the magnificent scenery that had the Whanganui River journey being described at one stage as the “Eighth Great Wonder of the World”. 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.

A Whanganui River canoe trip is perfect for people of all ages and all experience levels. Trips can range from one day up to eight days for a complete expedition from Taumarunui to Wanganui.

The normal canoeing season is from 1st October to 1st May with the busiest time being over the Christmas holiday period.

Accommodation along your journey is at one of the many campsites or Department of Conservation huts along the way. A highly recommended stop would be at Tieke Kāinga, a small Māori community and marae which was a trading centre prior to European colonisation.

Our Canoeing Experiences

Splash'n Dash

Taumarunui to Ohinepane - 1 Day (4-5 hours) - $125 per Paddler.

One day - 45 rapids, this exhilarating adventure is a great way to experience the upper Whanganui River in a limited time-frame. Leaving from Cherry Grove, Taumarunui you’ll paddle 21.5 km down to Ohinepane, with time for a muffin and a cuppa at Lauren’s Lavender Farm along the way.

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Overnighter

Taumarunui to Whakahoro - 2 Days, 1 night - $200 per Paddler.

Paddle your way out of town, through farmland and into the wild! 100 rapids along the way will leave you ready for a good sleep at your choice of campsite. This two-day paddle will take you from Cherry Grove, Taumarunui along 57 kms of the Whanganui River, past the stunning Ohura Falls to bush clad Whakahoro and the iconic Blue Duck Station. Includes 1 night’s accommodation at our River Rock Cottage for the night prior to your departure.

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Park Highlights

Whakahoro to Pipiriki - 3 Days, 2 nights - $225 per Paddler.

Starting at Whakahoro, you’ll skip the town and countryside and plunge straight into pure wilderness! Journeying 88 kms through the beautiful Whanganui River National Park, you’ll shoot the rapids and linger along mirror pools in deep green gorges. Enjoy a walk to the Bridge to Nowhere and learn how this arched concrete bridge ended up so far from any roads. Stay two nights at isolated DOC campsites along the way. You’ll take your leave of the awa at the historic Maori settlement of Pipiriki. Includes 1 night’s accommodation at our River Rock Cottage for the night prior to your departure.

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Ohinepane Kickback

Ohinepane to Pipiriki - 4 Days, 3 nights - $225 per Paddler.

OUR MOST POPULAR EXPERIENCE. This four-day paddle takes you from Ohinepane through to the historic Maori settlement of Pipiriki. 123 kms of fun rapids and tranquil deep green gorges through the beautiful Whanganui River National Park. Enjoy a walk to the Bridge to Nowhere and learn how this arched concrete bridge ended up so far from any roads. Stay three nights at your choice of isolated DOC campsites or splash out for the first night at Posh Pioneers gorgeous shepherd’s huts with a delicious home-cooked dinner. You’ll take your leave of the awa at the historic Maori settlement of Pipiriki. Includes 1 night’s accommodation at our River Rock Cottage for the night prior to your departure.

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Ultimate Experience

Taumarunui to Pipiriki - 5 Days, 4 nights - $225 per Paddler.

Get away from it all with the ultimate in wilderness immersion. 145 kms of discovery, running exhilarating rapids, gently floating along deep, mirrored gorges, enjoying the campfires and starlight of true Kiwi camping, far from the modern world. Stay three nights at your choice of isolated DOC campsites or splash out for the first night at Posh Pioneers gorgeous shepherd’s huts with a delicious home-cooked dinner. Enjoy a walk to the Bridge to Nowhere and learn how this arched concrete bridge ended up so far from any roads. You’ll take your leave of the awa at the historic Maori settlement of Pipiriki. Includes 1 night’s accommodation at our River Rock Cottage for the night prior to your departure.

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What you need to know

Please note - we won't leave our paddlers stranded if you're late arriving at your destination and we won't charge you a late fee

Prices are based on 1 passenger. For safety reasons there are a minimum of 2 passengers required for each trip. Discounts available for larger group bookings.

Any DOC campsite or hut fees are not included in our price. These must be booked and paid for separately with the Department of Conservation. Please click here to book.

What we provide for your journey: Canoe/Kayak, Paddles, Life Jackets, Storage Drums, Baler, Rope, River Maps, Safety Video and Briefing, Emergency Personal Locator Beacon, Transport To and From the River.
What we provide at our Base: WiFi, Tea, Coffee, Showers, Toilet Facilities and Vehicle Storage at our base.

Vehicle Relocation
We can transport your vehicle from our Piriaka base to your final destination saving you up to 5 hours of travel time if you are continuing your journey south.

From our Piriaka base to:

  • Ohinepane $150
  • Whakahoro $175
  • Pipiriki $200

Combinations packages available including Accommodation, Shuttle Services and Bicycles are available

Accommodation on the Whanganui River

Department of Conservation Huts and Campsites

There are only Department of Conservation campsites on the Taumarunui to Whakahoro section of the Whanganui River, with the John Coull Hut and Tieke Marae being supplemented by campsites. There is a hut at Whakahoro, but it is sleeping only, with separate cooking shelters outside. John Coull Hut has gas rings to cook on, but canoeists must take their own pots, plates and eating utensils. There is a campsite approximately every two hours after Ohinepane, each having a shelter that serves as a water catcher, and a toilet. Each campsite has storage for about 5000 litres of fresh water that does not need purifying. 

It is not possible to freedom camp beside the Whanganui River. DOC hut and campsite bookings must be made before going on the river. It is now possible to book a bed in the DOC huts and at the Tieke Marae. We request you make your own DOC bookings online.

Posh Pioneers

We highly recommend the accomodation and exclusive experience of Posh Pioneers, located right next to the Maharanui campsite just north of Whakahoro. Posh Pioneers is a unique off the grid boutique accomodation experience hosted by the lovely Heather and Fritz Bonk. A stay here will provide some unforgettable memories

Blue Duck Lodge

You can also book into the private Whio Lodge or Steele’s Shearing Quarters at Blue Duck Station in Whakahoro and they will help you transport your gear up from the river.

Private Campsites

The private Ramanui Campsite opposite Tieke Marae has a 6-bed hut, or campsites. The hut can be booked directly with the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge at 0800 480 308 or by email.

Further Downstream

From Pipiriki onwards you can organise your campsites as you go with a variety of options available, Whanganui River Adventures have Camping and cabins in Pipiriki, further down is Jerusalem, then a campsite at Ranana, The Flying Fox, Koriniti, Downes Hut, Atene, Parekino and finishing at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Whanganui.

Whakahoro Campsite

Whakahoro Campsite
Whakahoro Campsite

Whakahoro Campsite
Posh Pioneers

Posh Pioneers
Posh Pioneers

Posh Pioneers

River Conditions

For current Whanganui River conditions, click here.

The Whanganui River is considered unsafe for canoeing when the Level at Te Maire is above 80 cumecs (litres/second). Extreme care should also be exercised when the river is approaching 60 cumecs (litres/second) and the weather forecast is indicating rain in the Whanganui River headwaters.

The best idea is to call us on 0800 252 946 for an update on expected conditions before you leave home.

Your safety is important to us and we reserve the absolute right to not allow passengers to travel when we consider the river conditions or weather forecasts are unfavourable, or for any other reason, at our sole discretion. In the event that we consider the river to be unsafe for canoeing, we will fully refund any deposit or other payment made. If we consider the river to be safe for your trip and you choose not to go, we reserve the right to keep any deposit or payment made.