Follow the river from Wanganui to Pipiriki to discover Maori villages, historic sites and a constant flow of beautiful scenery.
Allow a couple of hours driving time for the 80 km journey from the town of Whanganui to Pipiriki. Once you leave State Highway 4 the road follows the Whanganui River, ensuring a constant stream of beautiful scenery.
Driving speed is slow - around 60 km per hour, and there are plenty of places to stop and take photos. The low speed road is perfect for cycling, and there isn't much traffic; unless you include sheep and the occasional piglet.
The first place of interest is the Kawana Flourmill and Millers Cottage. Built in 1854, Kawana was the most successful of the flour mills that operated on the river.
The next highlight is the fascinating village of Jerusalem (Hiruharama). Originally a larger Maori village known as Patiarero, Jerusalem was once home to famous New Zealand poet James K. Baxter and Sister Mary Aubert, whose Catholic mission remains there to this day.
From Pipiriki you can organise a jet boat tour to the Bridge to Nowhere. Marooned in the forest, this bridge was built across the Mangapurua Gorge to give access to an isolated farming settlement that was finally abandoned in 1942.
Along the road you'll find many accommodation options offering good food and the chance to chat with local hosts as you enjoy a glass of wine or a cool beer overlooking the river.