This early-morning trip, run by Whanganui Tours, goes to Pipiriki and back by midafternoon and includes sightseeing stops and optional extra tours. Times vary depending on how much mail the postman has to deliver and whether he waits while you enjoy a jet-boat ride. Pickups are from city accommodations and reservations are essential.
Sights include the remains of giant, fossilized oyster shells at Oyster Cliffs (28 km [17 miles] from Wanganui) and the marae (village) of Koriniti (47 km [29 miles]), with historic (and still much-used) ceremonial buildings and a small Anglican church. If there's anything happening, just ask whether it's appropriate to visit—unless it's a private funeral, you're likely to be made completely welcome. The restored Kawana Flour Mill (56 km [35 miles]) and colonial miller's cottage provide a glimpse of bygone pioneer life. At the farming settlement of Ranana (60 km [37 miles]), a Roman Catholic church from the 1890s
is still used, while the larger St. Joseph's Church and Catholic Mission, established by Home of Compassion founder Mother Aubert, is at picturesque Hiruharama (66 km [41 miles]), better known locally as Jerusalem. At Pipiriki (79 km [49 miles]), the turnaround point, it's possible to arrange a jet-boat tour to the magnificent river gorges farther upriver, or further to the Mangapurua Landing. A short walk leads from here to the Bridge to Nowhere, a huge concrete bridge in remote forested country that is a remnant of the pioneering Mangapurua farming settlement, abandoned in 1942.