Get in touch to book your adventure
If you want to talk to us about a Whanganui River Adventure, we are generally available by phone from 7am until 9pm New Zealand time, during the season from October 1 to April 30 (Don’t forget daylight saving!). However, we regularly check emails as well, so if you can’t raise us on the phone, then email us – you should have a response within 24 hours.
We are happy to tailor packages to accommodate big groups.
Call the Blazing Paddles team on 0800 BLAZIN - 0800 252 946 - Call or TXT +64 21 991564 or email email@example.com for more information.
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The Whanganui National Park is a Naturalist’s Paradise…
If birds are your thing, there’s many different species, both native and introduced; and at least half dozen kinds of animals – most of them introduced. And to complete the “fish, fowl, animal” line up, native fish are joined by introduced species such as trout and salmon. And, who knows, perhaps there’s even a huia or two still flying around in the backblocks – they were said to be very secretive, but also good mimics, so maybe the tui or bellbird you hear singing in the treetops might be something even more special…
When it comes to plant life, the Whanganui River trench has more than 300 different kinds of plants, mosses and lichens; from majestic Rimu and Ratas, to delicate kidney ferns and green hooded orchids.
Check out the links below for more information about the fascinating flora and fauna that makes the Whanganui National Park such a wonderful place.
The Birds of the Whanganui River
Many of the birds live in the tree tops, so you may not see them, even though you can hear them sing – make sure you pack some binoculars into the day bag. However, if you listen carefully you can hear kiwis calling around the Ramanui campsite at night.
Listen to the sounds of the forest…
Check out the different birds you may see and hear…
Want to help protect our native birds?
Don’t Let the Animals Get Your Goat…
One of the special animals in the Whanganui National Park are the long tail bats that you will see flying at night around the John Coull site. Some of the introduced animals in the park have multiplied to pest proportions, including the possums and goats. Others like the mustelids (ferrets, weasels, stoats) are deadly to our native birdlife. DOC does what it can to control them.
Flying night visitors
The pesky possums
If you want to know more about what DOC is doing to control the pests and how it manages the Whanganui National Park overall, check out their Draft Management Plan by clicking here
Beneath the River Surface…
The Whanganui River has been a traditional source of food for tangata whenua since they first settled its banks. Europeans introduced trout and salmon with negative effects on the native fishery, but most species have survived, if in reduced numbers.
The DOC website lists native fish, many of which are resident in the Whanganui River and its tributaries.
The Whanganui National Park comprises many hundreds of thousands of hectares of unmodified lowland rain forest – which lines the banks on both sides for most of the section between Whakahoro and Ramanui. This will help you identify many of our forest plants.
Natural History of the Whanganui River and Whanganui National Park
The land surrounding the Whanganui River is only about one million years old. Formed of soft sandstone and mudstone (papa) from the ocean-bed, it has been eroded by water to form sharp ridges, deep gorges, sheer papa cliffs and waterfalls.
Over this land has grown a broadleaf-podocarp forest of rata, rewarewa, rimu, tawa, kamahi and kowhai with beech dominant on the ridge tops. Tree ferns and plants that cling to the steep riverbanks are very distinctive.
Bird species such as kereru (native pigeon), tiwaiwaka (fantail), tui, toutouwai (robin), riroriro (grey warbler) and miromiro (tomtit) are often seen and heard. The call of the brown kiwi can often be heard at night.
The Whanganui River is rich in eels, lamprey, species of galaxiid (a group of native fish species including whitebait and kokopu), koura (freshwater crayfish) and black flounder.-Source: Department of Conservation website.
From Taumarunui to Whakahoro, much of the river margin has been converted to farmland, but there are still some good-sized pockets of bush. Often it is hard to tell that there is a road not far from the river. One of the features of the Retaruke River is the many fossilised rocks and it is home to the rare blue duck (whio).
Below Whakahoro and through to Kahura Station, much of the park is unmodified rainforest – untouched by humans that is, but goats, deer, pigs and possums provide a major challenge for DOC in its battle to maintain the biodiversity.
Kiwi can often be heard calling at both John Coull Hut and the Ramanui Campsite, while long-tail native bats can also be seen flying at dusk at the John Coull Hut. There are glowworms at both John Coull Hut and the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.
As well as the native fish in the river, there are both brown and rainbow trout, which can be caught with the appropriate licence. Most success comes from trolling a spinner behind your canoe.