> Whanganui River and National Park
Whanganui River and National Park
Canoing on the Whanganui River ©Visit Ruapehu
The Whanganui River has its origin high on Mt Tongariro, starting as an alpine stream gathering waters from Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu.
New Zealand's longest navigable river, the Whanganui descends through the central volcanic plateau towards Taumarunui and then continues for more than 200km southward, winding its way through the verdant Whanganui National Park.
Cloaked in dense rainforest, the upper reaches lead to deeply incised gorges of the middle reaches where tree ferns and rare native plants cling to the steep riverbanks.
This dramatic landscape opens out onto the lower reaches of the River, to follow rolling farmland and open valleys to the coastal dunes and cliffs, which border the Tasman Sea.
The banks of the river were occupied by the people of Te Atihaunui a Paparangi (the Whanganui iwi) who lived in villages (kainga) protected by fortified sites (pa). A close and deeply spiritual connection with the river has been maintained and today these villages are being revitalised.
In both pre- and post-European times, the Whanganui River was an important thoroughfare and trading route for the central North Island.