Immersed in the awa with Whanganui Tours

Immersed in the awa, with Whanganui Tours

The sun rises into a cloudless sky as Tracy greets our group and runs through the formalities for the day. Our bikes are loaded, and we depart on our journey up the Whanganui River valley in search of beautiful scenery and immense history.

Not only does our host deliver passionate insight into the land, but the rural mail too!

We are onboard the Whanganui Mail tour, making our ascent of the Gentle Annie to the Atene viewpoint for a brief glimpse of the majestic landscape that awaits as the Korero begins.

Immersed in story and scenery, we soon stop at our final mailbox, ready for the second leg of our journey to begin.

Another passionate local, Mark, of Whanganui River Scenic Jet, is poised to welcome us. With introductions and safety briefing out of the way, we board the boat, where the korero continues. With each twist and turn of the awa comes more insight into the stories of the land, the people, their beliefs and the battles. 

The river weaves through the valley, the remains of rock groins from the river steamer days, past relics of a proposed hydroelectric dam and the sacred battle site of Moutoa Island, to which Pakaitore Moutoa Gardens takes its name. 

Mesmerised by the ever-changing scenery, the unmistakable steeple of the historic Catholic Church comes into view, signaling we have made it to Hiruharama Jerusalem, the conclusion of the river leg of our tour and our morning tea stop. 

Following a tour of the convent and immersing ourselves in its rich history, it is time to indulge in some home baking, which we will soon work off as we embark on our cycle back to Whanganui, with the promise of lunch at Matahiwi.
As we pedal, the twists and turns of the River Road reveal glimpses of the river.

Historical points of interest in the ever-changing landscape are spaced perfectly among the gentle undulations of the Whanganui River road, providing regular discoveries and ample opportunities to catch our breath.

It's not long before we reach the Kawana flour mill. Rebuilt in the 1980s, the mill provided immense detail into the history. Further down the road, a short walk takes us to Tunnel Culvert, a perfectly preserved papa drive that diverts a stream under the road and into the river.

Arriving at Matahiwi, we are greeted by the local wildlife before we fill our water bottles and bellies with a divine quiche for our catered lunch.

Rested and revived, we continue our meander, passed by the occasional car and campervan as we near the one major climb of the route, our reward, a postcard-perfect view of the awa from Atene lookout. 

Crossing the cycle bridge at Upokongaro, it is hard to believe so much history and natural beauty is in one valley. It is easy to agree with the locals the Whanganui River Road is the best ride in the world.

With its 70km cycle and 1000m of elevation gain (approx.), this package caters to those with good fitness or e-bike riders looking for a one-day adventure. Whanganui Tours offers a range of other packages for those seeking a more relaxed day out in the Wanganui River Valley.

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