Bridge to Nowhere

Discover stories of the river - and our failed attempts to tame the valley

Join your local guide as they deliver the mail up the Whanganui River Road.  Stop to chat to locals and grab some morning tea.  Visit some of our special places along the way.

Rich in history and culture, you will learn about local Iwi (tribe), Te Awa Tupua – their River of Sacred Power and why the river was vitally important for transport, food and spiritual wellbeing for local Māori.  Hear stories of the early settlers and the paddle steamers that plied the river, deep into the interior of the Whanganui.

At Pipiriki, you will connect with river locals at Whanganui River Adventures.  Ken, Josephine and their guides will whisk you up the awa, sharing more insights and stories along the way.  The team have been navigating this river all their lives and their families for generations before.

The scenery through the river valley is spectacular and mystical.  Along the way you are bound to spot canoeists making their way down the final sections of their Whanganui River Journey - NZ's only Great Walk on water.

On arrival at the Mangapurua Landing, you'll walk along the relatively flat track up the valley to the spectacular Bridge to Nowhere.  A Bridge that stands testament to an ill-fated and some would suggest poorly planned post war farm settlement programme.  Today it is host to regenerating ngahere (forest), birds and other wildlife.  During the Summer you'll also surely see cyclists appearing out of the valley on their Mountains to Sea - Nga Ara Tūhono adventure.  Some of them may even join you on the return leg to Pipiriki.

The return leg of the river journey will be filled with excitement as you take in your new found knowledge and memories.  Once back at Pipiriki, the team will then transport you back to Whanganui, adding more stories along the way.

Tour inclusions

Pick and up and drop off in Whanganui City

Along the way to discover:

  • See how the mail gets delivered in rural New Zealand, with all the connections that matter
  • The convent at Jerusalem/Hiruharama
    (with the stories of James K Baxter, Sister Mother Aubert and local Māori) 
  • Kāwana Flour Mill - the original river think big project
  • Morning tea
  • The unique Tunnel culvert
  • Be inspired by the route the Mountains to Sea Cyclists and Te Araroa Walkers traverse
  • Jetboat ride to the Bridge to Nowhere (Mangapurua Landing) with a local family business that has been plying the river for generations.
  • Walk up the Mangapurua Valley to the Bridge to Nowhere, see the remnants of long abandoned farms, relics and signs of failed attempts to open up the valley with a road, and the incongruous Bridge to Nowhere.
  • Glimpse inside the lives of our rural hinterland, shaped by centuries of occupation along the river
  • See the unique geology borne from a millennia of uplifting changes
  • Spectacular views


Monday - Friday (minimum 4 persons)
Depart at 7.30am (pick up at your Whanganui accommodation)
Connect with Jetboat at 10am to navigate up the river to the Mangapurua Landing and walk to the Bridge to Nowhere. 
Return to Whanganui for arrival at 4.30pm

Duration  8-9 hours


Cost per person $216 (Minimum 3 persons)
Includes all transport (shuttle, guide, jet boat) 

There is a short 10-minute walk to and from the jetboat.
Additionally the walk to the Bridge to Nowhere is around 1.30 hrs return

What do you need to bring

  • Camera
  • Lunch
  • Sunscreen and sun hats
  • Windproof Jacket for the boat 
  • Shoes suitable for walking

Note: The walk in to the Bridge to Nowhere will take most people 45 mins along a well graded track (each way).  There are some steps at the landing which can be slippery in the wet.