The Whanganui River Journey is one of New Zealands Great Walks, even though it's not walked but paddled in a canoe. The full tour takes between three and five days, and there was no way for us to fit it into the schedule. We definitely wanted to at least see some of the river, paddle a bit ourselves - and we wanted to see the famous "Bridge to Nowhere". So we booked a one-day Jetboat/Bridge to Nowhere/Canoe-Trip starting in Pipiriki.
After being fitted with livevests and a short safety briefing, we climbed onboard the Jet Boat and started our journey up the Whanganui River. On the way our guide gave us some insight on the river itself and the inhabitants of the area around it.
We could see marks from previous high waters, and learned that the river can rise up to several meters during torrential rain, which makes it very dangerous. Whenever we came across a rapid, he also gave us some tips to navigate those later on. And we realized, that even though this canoe trip was supposedly OK for beginners, we lacked the experience to deal with rapids on that river. There was the very first rapid we came across - called the 50/50 rapid, because half the canoes keel over when going through the rapid. And then there was one with a huge rock in the middle of it. A canoe is wrapped around the rock due to the water pressure, and we were told that in fact that rapid had already destroyed three canoes this season. We were advised to paddle or carry across a shallow sand bench instead of going near the rock.
Then we continued further upstream, closing in on the Bridge to Nowhere. After getting of the boat at Mangapura Landing, it took a walk of about fifteen minutes to get to the Bridge. There we had some snacks, complimentary with the tour, and some more food that we brought ourselves.