Great Walks of NZ – The Wanganui Journey


The Wanganui Journey is one of the nine Great Walks of New Zealand. It is not actually a walk as it involves a 145km one-way kayak trip down the Wanganui River! There is a shorter trip where you join the journey part way through at Whakaroro and paddle just 87km. You can kayak independently or book on to a trip with one of the many companies that offer organised tours.

Example itinerary:

Day 1 – Taumarunui to Ohinepane, cover 22km in 3 to 5 hours.
Navigate the rapids whilst enjoying the native bush and farmland.

Day 2 – Ohinepane to Whakahoro, cover 35km in 6 to 8 hours.
Kayak through a rich and rugged landscape, take a trip up the Ohura River to the Ohura Falls.

Day 3 – Whakaroro to John Coull Hut, cover 37.5km in 7 to 9 hours.
Waterfalls, a whirlpool and an overhang make this stretch of the river very interesting.

Day 4 – John Coull Hut to Tieke Kainga, cover 29km in 7 to 9 hours.
River meanders through bush covered hills and is joined by the Tangarakau and Whangamomona rivers.

Day 5 – Tieke Kainga to Pipiriki, cover 21.5km in 4 to 6 hours.
This section of the Wanganui river passes through the very scenic gorge of the Manganuioteao River which has flowed down from Mt Ruapehu. Exciting rapids to experience before you reach your journey’s end at Pipiriki village.

Highlights include hundreds of waterfalls, gentle kayaking mixed with exciting rapids. Wildlife to watch and listen for include New Zealand native birds such as kiwi, tui and wood pigeons (kereru) as well as long tailed bats (pekapeka). Take a short break and actually walk to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ which was put in for access to planned settlements for World War I servicemen that sadly were abandoned.

During walk season you will need to book your space and pay for your hut and campsite fees in advance to secure your place. The official walk season is from 1st October to 30th April when hut and campsite bookings are required. Outside of official season, accommodation is on a first come first served basis and facilities are much more limited. There are two huts, 11 campsites and one basic bunk room along the route operated by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Remember to consult the DOC website for any walk alerts ( and also follow the guidelines below to ensure your great walk is memorable for positive reasons.

The Outdoor Safety Guide

1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone your plans
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

NB food and drink are not available for purchase at the Great Walk huts.

Wanganui Journey Safety

Heavy rain and river flooding can occur at anytime due to rainfall further up the catchment or directly on the river so be prepared. Don’t canoe/kayak the route if river in flood or flood conditions are predicted. Pull your canoe high up the bank and tie it securely as river level could rise several metres overnight.

More information on all the great walks and many other walks in New Zealand can be found at on the Doc website where there are PDF’s to download for some of the walks. Before you start your own Wanganui journey spend a night in comfort at the Fiesta Court Motel, one of the best motels in Wanganui. Staying at Wanganui motels allows you to prepare for your 5 days of kayaking and staying in huts or camping with your tent. For details of the Fiesta Court Motel accommodation in Wanganui visit their website at

Contact our friendly team at Fiesta Court Motel to make a booking!

See more: Discover The Wanganui Journey  as One of The Great Walks of NZ


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