Canoeing on Whanganui: A journey to a forgotten world


The canoe moves silently through the water. Surrounded by green, wild growing trees and peaceful bird song the tranquility lies like a soft blanket of velvet on top of us. We forget everything else. We are only in the present. The wilderness has taken full control of our minds. Nothing else interferes. Nothing else matters.


I take another few paddle strokes and the canoe speeds up again. A beautiful little kingfisher swoops just above the surface in front of us. A mallard duck with her four ducklings is crossing the river just behind us. This is their amazing home and we are privileged to be their guests.

The mighty Whanganui River is our home for three days. The canoes are packed with food, tents and sleeping bags. We are on the river with our guides from Canoe Safaris.

We were camping under a pink sky. Photo: Patrik Enlund

First nights dinner, creamy chicken pasta with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Photo: Patrik Enlund

I’d like to stay here forever. Nowhere else I get as calm as when I find myself in nature, far away from civilization. Far from internet connection I feel more connected than ever before. My breathing slows down and my heart skips a beat and I can’t stop smiling.

The speed of the river makes it easy to paddle. There is no stress and we have loads of time to just look at it all. We soak up the green and the beauty. Soak up the energy that nature gives for free.

I let the hand hang down over the side of the canoe and I feel the water trickling between my fingers.

Many small waterfalls along the whole way were filling the river with new water. Photo: Patrik Enlund

Whanganui River takes us to an enchanted world where absolute silence and tranquility prevails. To a world that has been forgotten in an ever faster spinning society that is reality for most people.

My favorite part of the river was when it narrowed down to a smaller canyon with deep green moss clinging to the steep sides. It felt like we were paddling in a scene taken straight out of Jurassic Park.

In some places the river turns into something out of Jurassic Park. Pretty cool! Photo: Patrik Enlund

To paddle the Whanganui River is not a hard feet, anyone can do it. In total, the river is meandering 180 miles across the North Island. Ninety of them counts as a part of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

For me, it was one of the things on my bucket list. If you ask me, I say it’s a must if you visit New Zealand.

Going with Canoe Safaris was a great choice. The family owned company takes great care of their guests and the food we had on the river was out of this world. What do you think of fried sausages with hash brown and scrambled eggs for breakkie, steak for dinner and pavlova for dessert. In between meals there were alway bits to snack on and plenty of water.

Scrambled eggs, sausages, hash browns and bagels for breakkie was awesome. Photo: Patrik Enlund
Pavlova for dessert was yum! Photo: Patrik Enlund

Phil and Kirsty have ran the company for many years and know what they are doing. Unfortunately Phil, who have been canoeing the river for a long time, couldn’t be the guide on our trip. But I would recommend you to ask for him as he has many stories to tell about this mysterious river.

The canoe trip on the Whanganui River is a collaboration with Canoe Safaris. Everything I have written about the trip is my own opinions and I would never write something that I don’t stand for. It’s all written by me and are written based on how I experienced it.