Day 312 on the Road
Jet Boating in the Whanganui National Park!
Today we are jumping on a jet boat to The Bridge to Nowhere in the Whanganui National Park! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities then head on over to our epic YouTube Channel and Subscribe!
Today we are going to be jet boating to the mysterious Bridge to Nowhere. Where does it go? I don’t know.
This morning we are leaving the volcanic landscapes of the Tongariro National Park and heading to another nation park in New Zealand, called the Whanganui National Park. Known for being wild with it’s forests and amazing jungle-like landscape.
And we’re joining Whanganui River Adventures for a tour to the Bridge to Nowhere.
So Laura is so scared of other people’s driving she’s wearing a life jacket and helmet in the van.
We follow our guide Ken onto the Whanganui River Adventures jet boat because we’re going to be taking a 32km journey up the Whanganui River and then taking a short walk to get to the Bridge to Nowhere.
The Whanganui River is rich in history both with the local Maori tribes and with the early European pioneers. We learn lots from our guide.
Approximately 10 metres and it’s got a waterfall in the back of it, it comes off the tunnel got a big pool of water inside of it there it also has the rata vines grown upside the mouth of the cave.
The Whanganui River is the longest navigable river in New Zealand and the third longest river in New Zealand at 290km and it’s been used like a highway for centuries and centuries before roads were made in New Zealand.
But beyond the history of the Whanganui River, there’s something else about this river that absolutely takes our breath away and that is the amazing scenery. It looks so rugged and wild and further down this river we go the more towering the gorge walls get, we even get the chance to go up narrow creeks to see hidden waterfalls and not to mention the amount of forest we are seeing along the way.
And our guide has so many fascinating stories about every single nook and cranny of this river. For instance, we see lots of little holes in the side of the rocks and that’s actually from the poles used by the Maori when they used to use their waka, which is the Maori word for canoe, to make their way down the river they would put the poles into the walls to push themselves along.
Tackling the Whanganui River is actually a multi-day trip usually because it’s one of the 10 New Zealand Great Walks. It usually takes between 3 to 4 days to canoe all the way down, yes, it’s one of the Great Walks but you don’t get to walk, you actually just canoe. But because we are taking a jet boat today we get to see most of the Whanganui River and its hidden gems like the Bridge to Nowhere all in one day tour.
After little under an hour on the river, we arrive at the beginning of our walk. This walk is gonna take us about 45 minutes through the beautiful lush native bush of the Whanganui National Park to make our way to the Bridge to Nowhere. This bridge is really to nowhere it takes us an hour on a jet boat then 45 minutes to get there can you believe that?
Along the way we get to see towering trees, beautiful native ferns, stunning little waterfalls and some awesome wildlife including this female tomtit which is taunting us all the way following us along the track. It’s awesome! After about 20 minutes walking our guide takes the time to stop us and tell us a little bit more about the history of the area. It’s quite impressive to see how much Ken knows about the area. He really wants to share his knowledge with us and he tells us that the hiking trail that we’re currently using was actually the main road to explore the area, Yes, this very narrow hiking trail was a road but to be quite fair, the carriage back in the days were actually much smaller than our current cars.
We’ll tell you the whole story of the Bridge to Nowhere when we get there but basically this whole area needed a road to travel through because it used to be a massive farming area. Yes, this really thick New Zealand bush was a farming land back in the day when the English settlers arrived they just burnt everything and put some pasture onto it.
But luckily the New Zealand bush is really resilient and it grew back in just a few years and that’s why when you look down at the Bridge to Nowhere it is absolutely surrounded by wild native forest and that’s what makes this bridge look so out of place.
Ken showed us a really awesome side track leading to a lookout point which gets amazing views overlooking the Bridge to Nowhere. But once we get down from the side track, we’re actually going to be stepping onto the bridge where Ken has prepared a few snacks and hot drinks and he’s about to tell us more about the bridge.
The story goes that after World War One, the government sort of opened up this area of land for people to start farming the area but they realised that this area is so crazy and wild that it just wasn’t suitable for farming so everybody up and left and left the are to do its own thing and this is a result a really well built bridge in the middle of, well, nowhere.
After getting plenty of time to soak up the amazing scenery from the Bridge to Nowhere and stuff our faces with snacks and hot drinks that Ken provided, we make our way back along the track and find the toilets to nowhere.
It’s the most clean toilet I have ever seen in my life.
So you guys have heard us say Whanganui at some point in this New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year and now you hear us saying Wanganui. There is a bit of a debate in New Zealand in what you should actually pronounce when looking at the word Wanganui or Whanganui, Because there is a “WH” in front. Some people will tell you you need to pronounce it “F” some people will tell you that you need to pronounce it “W” and honestly I’m a foreigner so we are going with whatever we’ve been told last.
But jokes aside, as soon as we jump back onto the jet boat we are treated to amazing sight this animal right before your eyes is the New Zealand blue duck it is actually rarer than a kiwi bird and it actually features on the $5 note here in New Zealand it’s an amazing bird it is called the Whio in maori and believe it or not, it has lips at the end of its beak.
It was only the second time in our trip that we got to see this rare bird and we are stoked about it.
But we are now making our way back down the Whanganui River and it’s a pretty awesome trip back since we already saw the scenery once in the way in we actually get to go a little bit faster but Ken still has a few pitstops for us to tell us more about the river and its inner workings.
One of the amazing things about the Whanganui River is that it has this massive cliff or gorge walls on both sides of the river and because New Zealand used to be under the sea, we can see a lot of seashells which is really unusual on the side of a river.
Another really cool fact is that the Whanganui River actually has the same rights as a human. A law has been passed here in New Zealand to give this river which is really important in Maori beliefs, the same rights as a human so it is preserved and the conservation efforts around here are made even easier.
On the final stretch of our journey down the Whanganui River today we get a really speed sensation thanks to the fact that this is a jet boat using a jet propulsion system to take water up the jet system and blast it out and that’s why it feels kind of like we’re gliding across the river as well as the boat is slightly raised off the river compared to a normal speed boat. And because it’s a jet boat that also means we can also do 360 spins and that’s one way to make our way to the end of this amazing tour.
Oh no. Every time you move I will slap your SASS.