Exploring the Jurassic Park-Like Whanganui River
“Water is an oft-used metaphor for virtually everything: time, sex, death. But to New Zealanders it’s much more elemental – a connection forged when the first Polynesian migrants arrived in their seagoing waka a thousand years ago,” Paul Bloomfield writes in a travel feature for Britain’s Telegraph.
“Today, Māori and Pākehā alike thrive on sea and river, as New Zealand’s world-beating watersports teams demonstrate regularly,” Bloomfield writes.
“How better, then, to get under the skin of local culture than on a waterborne expedition?”
The author chooses a three-day guided canoe safari “tracing the meanders of New Zealand’s longest navigable river”.
“I was tackling a 90km stretch of the trail known as the Whanganui Journey, rather curiously classified as a Great Walk by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation alongside such tramping classics as the Milford and Routeburn Tracks. The journey offers the chance to absorb the glorious natural habitats and Māori heritage of Whanganui National Park, designated 30 years ago, on a remote but relatively accessible mini-adventure.
“The Māori of the Whanganui have a saying: ‘Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au.’ I am the river. The river is me.
“Their connection with this waterway extends back many centuries. But even to this Limey Pākehā, at the end of a three-day walk that’s not a walk, paddling a river that’s not just a river, those simple words make perfect sense.”
Original article by Paul Bloomfield, The Telegraph, August 29, 2018.
Photo by Janette Asche.