Ohakune, New Zealand

When to Go

SAT 9 MAR - FRI 15 MAR 2024

Fitness Level

Level 2: Moderate


A$2,900 per person


New Zealand – the Land of the Long White Cloud, ridiculously gorgeous terrain, and home to ten mind-blowingly beautiful Great Walks. The Whanganui Journey is one of them.

We’ve added another element in 2024 – a day trek across the magnificent Tongariro Alpine Crossing – up and over an active volcano.

The trail is a challenging one, so we set off early to complete the 20km trek through Tongariro National Park, ascending over 1000 metres, past steaming sulphur vents, Red Crater and Blue Lake, before returning to our accommodation for a well-earned rest.

On day two we hit the water for three and a half days of canoe travel as we travel over 120km downstream, following the Whanganui’s winding journey through the majestic wilderness of the north island’s southwest, on what is an epic adventure. With remote hills, bush-clad valleys and deep Maori history, this adventure takes you from Ohinepane to Pipiriki.

We organize almost everything for you. From the park fees and trekking guide to the open Canadian canoes complete with safety gear, and of course the gourmet cooked breakfasts & 3-course dinners with New Zealand wine, spacious tents, comfortable 3-inch thick sleeping mats and cooking gear. You just bring a sleeping bag and your personal gear.

Accommodation from Day One through to Day Seven is included, with camping the name of the game throughout the expedition, and three nights in private ensuite units in Ohakune bookending the adventures.

This Best Life Adventure includes a private minibus charter from Palmerston North Airport (the closest airport to Ohakune which is the town one hour drive from where we start the river adventure), and back on the final day. You are free to make other transport arrangements to meet us at the start point if you prefer.

MINIMUM NUMBERS – this expedition is subject to a minimum number of 8 paying guests and once reached, the expedition is guaranteed to go ahead if not, it will be cancelled, and you can transfer amounts paid to an alternate expedition or departure date or receive a full refund.

INSURANCE – We highly recommend taking out personal travel insurance within seven days of booking this expedition, which will ensure you are covered if things go pear-shaped. In the past, we’ve worked with a number of different companies and have had the best customer experience and speed of response with World Nomads, but the decision is 100% yours if you have a preferred company.


Travel to Ohakune, New Zealand

Travel to Ohakune, New Zealand

Sat 9 Mar 2024

Your Best Life Adventure starts at Palmerston North Airport where our bus will transport you to the accommodation in Ohakune, around two hours drive north.

Alternatively, you can make your own way to Ohakune in time for our expedition briefing.

If you’re travelling from southeast Queensland you can fly from Brisbane to Palmerston North, via Auckland, departing around 09:00 and arriving in Palmerston around 18:00 all on the same day.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Sun 10 Mar 2024

This challenging trip begins at 1120 m following a well-formed boardwalk in a gradual climb through the Mangatepōpō Valley. The initial 5.4 kilometres share the track with the Soda Springs Walk. Soda Springs Walk is an easy 2 hr return is a good option for those who may not have the fitness to attempt the more challenging parts of the crossing.

At the end of the valley the track increases in difficulty, with a steady climb of around 350 m up a staircase to a short plateau in South Crater.

The climb resumes with the ascent to Red Crater, the highest point in the Crossing at 1886 m.

A steep descent on volcanic rock scree brings walkers to the vivid Ngā Rotopounamu-Emerald Lakes.

Loose rocks and stones on the steep slopes of Red Crater present a major slip hazard. Walkers are advised to take extra time and care.

The track continues past Blue Lake – Te Wai Whakaata o Te Rangihīroa (Rangihīroa’s mirror) and begins the long descent of the Northern slopes. The zig-zag descent includes many steps which can present difficulties for those with weaker knees.

Enjoy the magnificent views over Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupō before descending further into lush forest. The track ends at Ketetahi Road at an altitude of 760 m.

Be prepared for a long and challenging day out and be rewarded with stunning vistas and experien

Paddle Maharanui to Ohauora

Paddle Maharanui to Ohauora

Mon 11 Mar 2024

Day One on the Whanganui leads us into the gorge, which starts to narrow as we leave the last road access point behind at Whakahoro.

We pass Laceys and Wade’s landings and several old Maori Kaianga. Later in the morning, we pass Mangapapa campsite, Man of War Bluff and Kirikiriroa where the river does a huge horseshoe turn past the Verandah, the Whirlpool and down to Tamatea’s Cave and a lunch stop at Ohauora campsite.

There is plenty of time for stops with safe places to get out and swim.

We set up camp for our overnight at Ohauora campsite.

Paddle Ohauora to Mangapurua

Paddle Ohauora to Mangapurua

Tue 12 Mar 2024

Once we’ve had breakfast and packed up camp, we hit the river early. It’s a stunning morning paddle down the straightest part of the river and through another vertical gorge before stopping at John Coull campsite for morning tea.

Back on the water, we pass the confluence of the Tangarakau and Whangamomona rivers, Mangawaiiti campsite, and the Otumangu landing – one of the post-WW1 farming settlements. We then start to see the first pine trees since Whakahoro (planted by the early settlers), before stopping at the Mangapurua campsite for an afternoon break. We leave the canoes behind and walk to the Bridge to Nowhere (45 min each way) for expansive views from the bridge high above the river.

If it’s a warm day we can wash off in the river, before paddling the final 1.5 hours down to Ramanui campsite. As we pull into the river bank, dinner and hot showers await at Ramanui Campground. There’s the option to upgrade to sleeping in a cabin if you like (pre-bookings only).

Paddle Mangapurua to Ramanui

Paddle Mangapurua to Ramanui

Wed 13 Mar 2024

After breakfast, we leave the canoes behind and take a walk to the Bridge to Nowhere (45 min each way) for expansive views from the bridge high above the river.

If it’s a warm day we can wash off in the river, before paddling the last 1.5hrs down to Ramanui campsite, stopping for a short walk at Tangahoe landing to the Tangahoe waterfall.

As we pull into the river bank, dinner and hot showers await at Ramanui Campground. There’s the option to upgrade to sleeping in a cabin if you like (pre-bookings only).

Paddle Ramanui to Pipiriki

Paddle Ramanui to Pipiriki

Thu 14 Mar 2024

After breakfast, we start paddling and pass the Kahura landing and one of the locations for the filming of “River Queen”.

It is another hour’s paddle through the steep gorge until the river cascades through Ngaporo rapid and past the Mangaio stream and Mangaio rock where several of the early eyebolts can still be seen that were winching points for the riverboats.

From here it’s downstream to Pururoto Caves and past to the legendary Autapu rapid for lunch.

From Autapu there are several small rapids before the Paparoa rapids swing the canoes past the old eel traps and down to the end of our journey and the landing at Pipiriki. Once we’ve packed the boats and climbed into clean clothes, it’s a one-hour drive on our bus back to Ohakune.

We check into our accommodation before our farewell dinner in the town, swapping stories of adventure and sowing the seeds for the next one. We’ll find a local alehouse to take our tired bodies on a journey deep into the night.

Travel to Palmerston North Airport

Travel to Palmerston North Airport

Fri 15 Mar 2024

After breakfast we checkout, before the bus departs for the airport, ready to start your journey home.



A$2,900 per person


  • Return transport from Palmerston North Airport, New Zealand to Ohakune
  • One day hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Three and a half days of Whanganui River Canoe expedition including canoes and safety gear
  • All campsite bookings, spacious tent, sleeping mat and cooking gear
  • Two nights’ accommodation on day one and day seven in twin-share units in Ohakune (Single Supplement Price AU$500 paid in addition to the above price)
  • All meals from dinner on day one, through to breakfast on day seven, including soft drinks, water and local New Zealand wine, local transport, guides, entrance fees etc.
  • Certified experienced guide(s) trained in wilderness first aid


  • Flights into/out of New Zealand
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Sleeping bag
  • Additional personal expenses including visa (if required) and any passport fees
  • Additional accommodation and associated costs before or after the Event
  • Specialist/specific personal gear and equipment suitable for the Event
  • Additional sightseeing trips or optional extras
  • Meals, other than those included in the itinerary
  • Alcohol
  • Fines or penalties incurred during the Event
  • Medical and associated costs including medical evacuation
  • Legal costs incurred during the Event


  • Click the BOOK NOW button to book and register for this expedition.
  • A 20% non-refundable Booking Fee is due 7 days after registering for this expedition.
  • Your Balance Due must be paid 90 days prior to departure or your deposit will be forfeit.

FLIGHTS:  Best Life Adventures do NOT include flights into and out of New Zealand. You will need to book these, details will be provided after you register. We recommend looking at Skyscanner for an idea of times and prices. The closest airport to the river is Palmerston North, so you’ll need to fly into Auckland first, and then transfer from there.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS: We can cater for some food allergies or vegetarians but please understand it’s not always possible in remote mountain villages high in the Himalayas. You can list any dietary requirements in the Participant Information Form that you need to complete as one of your tasks in preparation for the expedition.

Our full terms and conditions are published here.


Expedition Reports

It's one of New Zealand's most famous trails - find out more about what our day on the volcano involves.

Read about our last expedition to explore the Whanganui River by traditional canoe, through verdant rainforest, across raging rapids and through deep gorges.

If it's accessible wilderness with spectacular river-scapes, droplet waterfalls, calm serenity (with the odd grade 2 rapid!), and awesome guides you’re after, then the Whanganui expedition is for you! The Best Life Adventures team has pulled together a genuine modern off-grid escape requiring moderate level fitness to enjoy everything this great adventure has to offer. The team’s ability to create seamless booking, travel and on-river experience with like-minded adventurers is unequaled. Perfect for families, couples, corporates or anybody seeking an incredibly accessible wilderness experience.
Steve White

Digital Entrepreneur & Veteran Venturer

This was out and out one of the best experiences I've ever had. The trip exceeded my expectations in every department. The hospitality was second to none and the care taken for all of us was outstanding. Safety was never forgotten and was balanced with a load of fun and great humour throughout.
Simon Christie


Open chat
🏴 Welcome to Best Life Adventures

How can I help you?